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08 August 2023

NDIS employment supports: All you need to know.

Do you have an employment-related goal in your NDIS Plan? Are you at school and thinking about what’s next? Are you on the NDIS and working or doing volunteer work?

NDIS employment supports may be able to help. If you’re on the NDIS and have a work-related goal, whether it’s to find a job, earn money, learn new skills or begin open employment, read on!


How NDIS employment support works.

There are many steps on the journey to achieving your career goals. NDIS employment supports cover the entire employment journey, from preparing for work to getting help on the job to making your next career move.

These include:

  •  Identifying and developing a career pathway
  • Transition to work such as developing skills
  • Supports to help you get and keep a job
  • Assessments and counselling
  • Career planning
  • On-the-job support to work in the job or company of your choice.


Who can access employment supports?

NDIS employment supports were changed several years ago to make them more flexible and available in a wide range of workplaces. 8They now cover:

  • Private and government employers
  • Social enterprises
  • Micro-businesses
  • Self-employment
  • Volunteering
  • Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE).

Like any NDIS-funded purchase, employment supports must meet the reasonable and necessary requirements.


Types of NDIS employment supports.

 1. Workplace assistance.

Workplace assistance can help with building an employment or career pathway and provide support to fulfil your job or study related goals. It may be used in an open employment setting or with an Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) by any working-age NDIS participant with an employment-related goal. Workplace assistance can also be used to build employment capacity and maintain a job, including self employment.

 It might include:

  • Support to discover what type of work you’re interested in
  • Foundational and communication skills
  • Managing complex barriers to employment
  • Job customisation
  • Career planning
  • Transitioning from an Australian Disability Enterprise into open employment
  • Mentoring to understand the opportunities, roles and responsibilities of running a small business (self-employment).

Workplace assistance will appear under Capacity Building in your NDIS Plan.


2. Supports in employment – Specialised supported employment.

Supports in employment are designed for employed participants who need extra support because of disability. For example, people who are less independent in performing work tasks. These supports can also be used to fund additional coaching to operate in the workplace such as help to stay focused, assistance with communication or job customisation.

Supports may be provided individually or in groups and include:

  •  On-the-job assessments related to the impact of disability on your ability to work
  • Job customisation program
  • On-the-job training
  • Support with work tasks
  • A support worker to assist with mobility and personal care at work
  • Extra support to manage complex needs.

Supports in employment will appear under Core – Assistance with Daily Life in your NDIS Plan.


3. School leaver employment supports (SLES).

SLES support school leavers to transition from school to work during the final months of school until they are settled in a job. These supports are tailored to the individual needs of school leavers with disability.

They might include:

  • Work experience opportunities
  • Skill development
  • Understanding work capabilities
  • Building confidence.

More information can be found in our story School leaver employment supports.

SLES will appear under Capacity Building in your NDIS Plan.


4. Employment related assessment and counselling.

Employment-related assessment and counselling provides services that assist participants to successfully engage in employment.

For example, participants who need significant support after a traumatic injury and require significant support to develop a new work or career pathway.

Employment-related assessment and counselling sits under the Capacity Building budget in your NDIS Plan.


 What’s not covered by NDIS employment supports?

The NDIS doesn’t duplicate or replace other mainstream, community or social services. That means if you’re getting supports from another organisation, the NDIS won’t fund the same supports.

The NDIS will not fund:

  • Wages and salaries
  • Disability employment services (funded by the government to help people with disability find and keep a job) and supports available through a DES provider
  • Centrelink services
  • JobSeeker payments
  • Incentives and wage subsidies for hiring people with disability
  • Vocational education or TAFE courses, or learning support while you study
  • Textbooks and computers for work or study
  • Equipment and other costs to start a business (in the case of self-employment)
  • Equipment that an employer must provide to meet legal and business needs
  • General training required of all employees.

It is the responsibility of employers to make reasonable adjustments so people with disability have the same opportunities for employment, inclusion and promotion as other Australians. The Leap in! Inclusive Employment ebook is packed with information to support businesses to become more inclusive.


How to get employment supports in your NDIS Plan.

Your NDIS plan meeting or plan reassessment is an ideal opportunity to talk about your work goals to ensure you get the supports you need in your NDIS Plan. For more details on goals and how to set them, read our blog posts What is a goal? and Achieving your NDIS employment goals.

There can often be barriers for people with disability entering the workforce so your plan meeting is an ideal time to discuss any challenges you face with your NDIS planner or local area coordinator.

Be sure to take the following to your meeting:

  • Employment plans from Disability employment service (DES) or Australian Disability Enterprise (ADE) if relevant
  • Other reports or assessments like school reports or work assessments
  • It’s also common to take a functional capacity assessment completed by an Occupational Therapist.

It’s helpful to have an idea of what you would like NDIS funding to cover. The free Leap in! app is a great place to record your goals. It even includes tips on actions you can take along the way!

Top tip: A Centrelink Employment Services Assessment (ESat) is not needed to confirm eligibility for NDIS employment supports.


What goals look like for employment supports.

There are many reasons that people want to work in a job or a volunteer role. It could be to earn money, build confidence, meet people, learn new skills or contribute to society.

By setting clear goals, you have a much better chance of getting funding included in your NDIS plan for employment supports. Here’s an example goal from the NDIS Let’s talk about work book.

Akari’s goal: “This year I’d like to explore what type of jobs might best suit me and find work.”

Akari’s action plan: Akari used some SLES funding in her NDIS Plan to gain supported work experience in a supermarket. Her support worker is helping Akari to develop skills to work more independently. When Akari is ready, she will start looking for work with the help of DES.


Want to know more?

If you have an employment-related goal but you’re unsure about what NDIS employment supports can help, have a chat with the Leap in! Crew. Call us on 1300 05 78 78, email us at or chat with us online on our website.


Originally published 20 October 2020, updated 22 February 2023 and July 2023.


Further reading

School leaver employment supports

Achieving your NDIS employment goals

Resources to help you find a job

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