What is supported employment

14 January 2020

This is actually a really great question, and one that we receive a lot.

Supported employment is, as the name suggests, a job where people with disability can receive extra support while they are at work.

Supported employees often receive help to:

  • do their job
  • learn and develop new skills
  • make work goals

There are lots of different kinds of jobs available to people who are interested in supported employment.

Like most workplaces, supported employment is a great place to make friends, earn money, learn new things and be part of the community.


Find a job near you


What’s the difference between supported employment and open employment?

Supported employment is employment that has been designed for people with disability. It’s great for people who need more support than what’s available in a traditional workplace.

Open employment is a job that can be done by any person. It’s a term that’s often used when someone with disability works in a mainstream workforce, alongside employees without disability.

Is supported employment funded by the NDIS?

Yep – supported employment is funded by the NDIS as part of the NDIS employment supports.

How do I know if it’s in my plan?

The NDIS calls it ‘Finding and Keeping a Job (Supported Employment).' If you have this written in your plan you should be able to access supported employment if there is a provider in your area.

Is supported employment that same thing as Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), Disability Employment Services (DES) and School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES)?

There are so many confusing names, acronyms and bodies involved - it can be hard to know who’s who!

Here’s a little guide:

Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE) are non-profit organisations who hire supported employees. Endeavour Foundation Business Solutions is an example of an ADE. We have dozens of sites across NSW, QLD and VIC where we do all kinds of things – everything from food packing to recycling.

Disability Employment Services (DES) help people with disability find in open employment and keep a job. DES can be provided by both non-profit and for-profit organisations. Community Solutions is an example of a DES provider.

School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES) supports people with disability to transition from school to employment. Like supported employment, SLES is funded by the NDIS. SLES funding is used when people are transitioning from high school. SLES funding is used to build a person’s ability and confidence to work with a DES provider. SLES funding usually focuses on capacity building supports.

How do you get a job as a supported employee?

It works more or less like any other job. Here are some of the steps that people generally take to become a supported employee:

  1. Make sure you have the right NDIS funding

    To be a supported employee, you will need to have NDIS funding for employment supports.

    The way you get NDIS funding for work is to talk to your NDIS planner about wanting a job, and what kind of job you would like. If getting a job is one of your NDIS goals and supported employment is a good fit, there is a good chance that you will have the right funding.

  2. Chat to a provider that offers supported employment

    You will need to see which organisations in your area offer supported employment and reach out. If you have a support coordinator, they will be able to help you out with this.

    Endeavour Foundation is one of Australia’s largest employers of people with disability, so we often have a lot of vacancies for supported employees. You can check out our locations here – there might just be something available near you!


    Find a job near you


  3. Book a site tour

    If you find something available that suits you, the next step will be to chat to us to book in a site tour.

    A site tour is a great way to see the workplace and meet some of the people who could become your workmates and managers.

  4. Start a trial as a supported employee

    This is a great way to try it and see what you think. During this time, you will learn about the organisation and see if it’s right for you.

  5. Placement as a supported employee

Do supported employees get paid?

Yes, supported employment is paid work. It is paid from day one and supplemented by your disability support pension (DSP). This means that as a supported employee, you will often still receive the DSP.

How do I know if supported employment is right for me?

There are many reasons that people choose supported employment.

Supported employment is designed to help two types of people:

  • People with disability who want a job, but need more support than what’s available in open employment
  • People with disability who want to eventually work in open employment, but want to learn some skills first.

Instead of us going through all the reasons people may choose to be a supported employee, here’s a video of some of our talented Mount Druitt employees in Sydney talking about what their job means to them:

The many reasons why I love my job

Contact us to find out how we can support you


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