Education to Employment Education to Employment

Section 3: What is a Disability Employment Service?

This information sheet provides basic information about Disability Employment Services (DES) and their role in supporting finishing students and graduates with disability and their employers.

DES providers can be a critical factor in supporting an individual with disability to make the transition into graduate employment. They are also an essential source of support and information for career services and graduate employers in their general efforts to achieve better employment outcomes for graduates with disability.

What is a Disability Employment Service?

Disability Employment Services (DES) are funded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) to help people with disability get and keep a job, and to help employers recruit and retain staff with disabilities.
There are DES providers available across all of NSW and Australia.
There are 2 types of DES programs:

  • Disability Management Services: help people with disability, including graduates, who need support in the workplace but not on a regular, long-term basis; and
  • Employment Support Services: help people with permanent disability, including graduates, who need ongoing, regular support in the workplace to keep their job.

What can a DES do to help a graduate with disability and their employer?

Helping Graduates

A DES provider will help a student or graduate with disability to develop an individual plan that describes the types of things the DES will do to help get and keep a job.

A DES can help people with disability, including graduates and students, who are not working at all or working at least 1 hour less than the maximum amount of hours they are assessed as capable of working. Centrelink can arrange the necessary 'Job Capacity Assessment'.

A DES can provide these types of support:

  • opportunities to gain new skills and qualifications;
  • access to work experience opportunities;
  • help to manage the person's disability and other medical or health interventions;
  • overcoming and managing other barriers to employment;
  • finding a job that matches a persons skills and qualifications;
  • depending on individual needs, short-term or long-term help once the person is in the job with on-the-job training; and
  • negotiating and setting up any workplace adjustments needed.

Helping Employers

Even before a DES participant is placed in a new job or an employer identifies an employee with disability in their workplace, a DES can work with employers and employer networks in the local area to get to know upcoming employment opportunities and what skills are most in demand. DES can also provide an employer with free professional recruitment and advice and job matching to help employ people with disability.

For workplaces with an employee with disability, a DES can help in these ways:

  • assist with job design for new or existing employees with disability;
  • on-the-job or off-site support to help a new employee with disability settle into their job;
  • give ongoing support to an employee to maintain their job (where it is assessed by the DES that the person needs ongoing support); and
  • training, information and awareness raising activities for employers and other workplace staff.

A DES can also help an employer to receive:

  • financial support, wage subsidies and incentives;
  • access to any equipment or workplace modifications needed for the employee with disability;
  • mental health training; and/or
  • interpreter services for employees using Sign Language (Auslan).

Working with Tertiary Career Services

It may be very helpful for a TAFE or university career service to work with a DES provider when supporting a student with disability to find employment in their chosen field (if the student needs additional employment support). A DES and career service can be very effective when working together to support a student with disability find employment in their new field.

A career service can help by:

  • supporting the student to successfully plan and prepare for the move from TAFE or university into qualified employment;
  • use their existing network of employers most likely to employ their graduates; and
  • give details of any workshops, programs or events run by the institution for finishing students about future employment.

A DES can help to:

  • identify the student's disability orientated needs;
  • provide/arrange any necessary training to help the student get ready for employment; and
  • negotiate and set up any workplace adjustments and employer incentives after the employee has secured their new job.

It is important to note that a DES can only help a graduate with disability who meets their eligibility criteria. This includes that they are not already working (even in a field unrelated to their qualification) the maximum number of hours that they are assessed (by a Job Capacity Assessor) to be capable of working.

For example, a final year student in a TAFE course for Veterinary Nursing is currently working in a retail outlet to help support them during their studies and gain some work experience. The student with disability is allowed to use a DES service (where they meet the other eligibility criteria) to help them find work in their new field, as long as he/she is working at least 1 hour less in the retail outlet than the maximum number of hours that they are assessed as being able to work.

How does a student or graduate with disability get help from a DES?

A graduate or student with disability can get help from a DES by contacting Centrelink. See human services website or call 132 850. Centrelink will then arrange an assessment (called a Job Capacity Assessment) of the student or graduate's situation and work out whether a DES, or another type of employment service is the most appropriate.

After the assessment, if appropriate, the student or graduate will be referred to a local service matched to their needs.

Where can I find a DES provider?

To find a local DES provider you can:

  • phone JobAccess, a free confidential government telephone service providing information and advice to employers about recruiting and working with people with disability on 1800 464 800; or
  • see the Australian Government's JobSearch website and search 'find a provider'


'Disability Employment Services: Flexible, Tailored Employment Assistance: A Guide for Participants' (2010) by DEEWR as found on website on 21 May 2010

'An Employer's Guide to Employing Someone with Disability' (2010) by DEEWR as found on website on 21 May 2010

DEEWR webpages from website at on Support for Job Seekers: Overview; Disability Employment Services: Overview as found on 4 May 2010.