Employment Programs for People With Disabilities

The Australian Government funds two types of specialist agencies to help people with disability find and maintain work: Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE) and Disability Employment Services (DES). Australian Disability Enterprises are commercial businesses that employ and support people with disabilities who need a higher level of ongoing support, often in specialist working environments, work crews or contract labour arrangements. Disability Employment Services deliver employment assistance for job seekers with disability, and are delivered by a network of organisations around Australia. These organisations play a specialist role in helping people with disability, injury or health condition get ready to look for a job, find a job and keep a job.

Disability Employment Services (DES)

Through Disability Employment Services, job seekers with disability, injury or health condition may be able to receive assistance to prepare for, find and keep a job. Disability Employment Services providers are a mix of large, medium and small, for-profit and not-for-profit organisations that are experienced in supporting job seekers with disability and experienced helping businesses to put in place practices that support the employee in the workplace. Disability Employment Services has two parts:

  • Disability Management Service is for job seekers with disability, injury or health condition who need assistance to find a job and occasional support to keep a job.
  • Employment Support Service provides assistance to people with permanent disability and who need regular, ongoing support to keep a job.

Disability Employment Services is uncapped, so that all eligible people with disability have immediate access to individually tailored and comprehensive services including capacity building, training, work experience and other interventions to help participants obtain and maintain suitable employment. Providers of Disability Employment Services are able to commit to early intervention partnerships with schools and other services to ensure employment assistance is available as soon as a person with disability is ready to participate. Features of Disability Employment Services include:

  • Disability Employment Services is uncapped so that job seekers with disability don’t have to wait for services to help them get and keep a job.
  • Two clearly distinct programs focusing on job seekers with disability with different needs.
  • Providing the right assistance as early as possible, including for school leavers, to ensure a successful transition to work.
  • Encouraging a strong focus on job outcomes with the greatest rewards available when Disability Employment Service providers find sustainable jobs for participants.
  • Incentives for Disability Employment Service providers to encourage skills development, education and training.
  • A funding structure that targets resources to the most disadvantaged job seekers.
  • Resources to assist job seekers with disability in remote areas.
  • Development of an Employment Pathway Plan between a Disability Employment Service provider and a job seeker which details the services tailored to help the individual secure employment.
  • A flexible approach so Disability Employment Services can deliver a mix of interventions to address both vocational and non vocational barriers.
  • Minimal red tape to give Disability Employment Service providers more resources to assist job seekers to find and maintain a job.
  • All Disability Employment Service providers are required to be certified as complying with the Disability Services Standards.


Australian Disability Enterprises

Australian Disability Enterprises are commercial businesses that employ and support people with disabilities who need a higher level of ongoing support, often in specialist working environments, work crews or contract labour arrangements.  Australian Disability Enterprises operate across a wide range of industries covering everything from graphic design, printing, and metal fabrication through to packaging, recycling and landscaping. Australian Disability Enterprises offer quality products and services at competitive prices, and there are over 300 outlets Australia. Employees of Australian Disability Enterprises enjoy the same working conditions as those in the general workforce.


Useful Resources and Links


The Employment Assistance Fund helps people with disability and mental health conditions by providing financial assistance to purchase a range of work related modifications and services. Assistance is available for people who are about to start a job or who are currently working, as well as those who require assistance to find and prepare for work. The Fund may reimburse the cost of work related modifications and services including, but not limited to:

  • the cost of modifications to the physical work environment
  • modifications to work vehicles
  • adaptive equipment for the workplace
  • information and communication devices
  • Auslan interpreting
  • specialist services for employees with specific learning disorders and mental health conditions
  • disability awareness training
  • Deafness awareness training, and
  • mental health awareness training.

Recruitment agencies may also apply for reimbursement of Auslan interpreting that they provide for a job interview.


JobAccess is an information and advice service funded by the Australian Government. It offers help and workplace solutions for people with disability and their employers. JobAccess is an initiative of the Australian Government to support the employment of people with disability. JobAccess includes a comprehensive, easy to use website and a free telephone information and advice service where you can access confidential, expert advice on the employment of people with disability. The JobAccess website provides information written specifically for employers, job seekers and employees with disability, co-workers of people with disability and Australian Government employment service providers. It has a comprehensive range of information about different disabilities and workplace solutions and adjustments. The website has step by step guides and checklists on recruitment, job searching, adjusting a workplace, employer incentives, understanding rights and responsibilities at work and much more.


The Supported Wage System is a process that enables employers to pay productivity based wages to people whose work productivity is significantly reduced as a result of the effects of their disability. Through the Supported Wage System, the Australian Government funds qualified assessors to determine a worker’s productivity, with the resulting wage being paid by the employer. People employed under the Supported Wage System provisions are required to have their work productivity reviewed each 12 months or earlier if the person’s work productivity significantly increases or decreases. The Supported Wage System operates across both federal and state workplace relations regulatory frameworks.


The Workplace Adjustment Tool lets employers search for ideas on how to make a workplace more accessible for people with disability. You can search for ideas based on the type of job being undertaken, a particular disability, a type of product or a particular supplier. When you find the product or solution you need, you can view contact details for suppliers in your area. Step-by-step instructions are provided.

JobSearch is Australia’s free online jobs website. It is funded and operated by the Australian Government as a free service to assist job seekers into employment and connect employers with quality staff. Job Services Australia providers and public employers upload their job vacancies to JobSearch and search for potentially suitable staff. Job seekers can search for jobs via the map on the homepage by choosing their state, local area and occupation category. JobSearch has a range of features to help jobseekers search for a job, including:

  • free registration for all Australians seeking work
  • jobs across all industries and regions of Australia
  • your own personal page, where you can create a job match profile, upload your resume and use our instant job list to find jobs based on your skills and experience
  • links to employment assistance and information for all job seekers.

SEEK Jobs, employment, career and recruitment site.SEEK has made it even easier to navigate the advertising and search process by creating areas to meet job type and country specific needs. SEEK Volunteer brings volunteers and not-for profit organisations together free of charge.  SEEK Learning assists jobseekers with career development by providing vocational education through partnerships with leading training providers, such as TAFE institutions and major universities.


Mobility Allowance assists people with disability to pay for transport costs when they are unable to use public transport without substantial assistance. You may qualify for Mobility Allowance if you are:

  • aged 16 or over
  • unable to use public transport without substantial assistance either permanently or for an extended period due to a mental or physical disability
  • undertaking an approved activity, such as employment, vocational training or job search, and required to travel to and from home as part of your activity.


The Remote Jobs and Communities Program (RJCP)aims to increase the participation and employment rates for people living in remote areas. The key features of the RJCP include:

  • employment and participation activities, including personalised support for job seekers;
  • the Remote Youth Leadership and Development Corps to help young people move successfully from school to work;
  • providers and communities working together through the development of Community Action Plans to identify the strategies and resources needed to overcome barriers to employment and participation
  • the Community Development Fund to help communities build strong social and economic foundations.The Community Development Fund is available to a range of potential recipients., including local councils, community and non-government organisations and local employers, as well as RJCP providers.


The Fair Work Ombudsman is a statutory office created by the Fair Work Act 2009. The Fair Work Ombudsman’s functions include promoting harmonious, productive and cooperative workplace relations and ensuring compliance with Commonwealth workplace laws. The services of the Fair Work Ombudsman are free to all workers and employers in Australia.


The Fair Work Commission is the national workplace relations tribunal. It is an independent body with power to carry out a range of functions relating to:

  • the safety net of minimum wages and employment conditions
  • enterprise bargaining
  • industrial action
  • dispute resolution
  • termination of employment
  • other workplace matters.