Disability employment services, also known as DES, provide choice and flexibility for people with a disability who are looking for a job. DES can be large organisations or small providers. They may be for-profit companies or for-purpose groups, or a partnership of organisations.

DES providers are organisations that help people living with a disability to prepare for a job, find one and keep it. These services are tailored to the individual needs of the participant and may offer different supports, such as help to preparing a resume, assistance planning for a job interview, and support through the first weeks of employment.  In addition to these services DES providers can also assist with the development of other job-ready skills. Disability employment services may also work with employer groups to find workers and create ways to support people with disabilities to enter or stay in the workforce.

DES providers are all registered with the Department of Social Services. There are strict requirements and quality controls in place, to make sure that people receive the service they require and deserve. In 2021, there were more than 314,000 people being supported by the DES system.

Benefits of employing a person living with a disability

Research has demonstrated the positive impact of engaging people living with disabilities in the workplace. A comprehensive review of studies around the world, undertaken in 2018, found both financial and social benefits from hiring people with disabilities.[1]

These included increased profitability through cost-effectiveness, reduced staff turnover and increased retention, employee reliability, punctuality, and loyalty and improved company image. The research also concluded there was a competitive advantage for the business, as the presence of employees with a disability encouraged diverse customers, customer loyalty and satisfaction, innovation, productivity, work ethic and safety.

The author concluded: “There are many benefits of hiring people with disabilities, particularly for employers.”

Who is eligible for disability employment services?

To be eligible to receive support from a disability employment service you must meet the eligibility requirements. Specific details can be found on the services Australia website. Requirements

  1. Have a medically diagnosed disability, injury, or health condition
  2. Receive an income support payment or disability support pension from Centrelink
  3. Be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  4. Not be a full-time student
  5. Be assessed as having capacity to work less than 30 work hours per week

What can a disability employment service do?

The purpose of disability employment services is to help you prepare for employment and to find employment that suits your skills, interests and considers your individual circumstances.  that is sustainable. As part of identifying the skills and training you will need before applying for a job, training or guidance could be provided in some of the following areas:

  • Development of skills
  • Taking part in a work trial or a work experience program
  • The preparation of CVs, resumes, and cover letters
  • Job searching assistance
  • Getting ready for a job interview and considering how to answer questions
  • Working knowledge of how to dress, act, and respond in the workplace
  • Knowing your rights and responsibilities as an employee.

The benefits of having a job can really enhance your quality of life and your health. Meaningful work can increase your quality of life, boost your self-esteem, provide an income, and satisfy your sense of purpose. Additionally, going to work helps to build your community and social networks as you meet new people and share experiences.

Best disability employment services

The best disability employment service is the one that provides tailored services to help you find and meet your goals. The Australian Government is focused on developing a high-quality disability-employment sector to support participants and employers find long-term solutions.

The Department of Social Services is currently reviewing the DES Program under the DES Reform. The current system connects people with employment opportunities but there is agreement that the current system does not work for everyone.

At Ability Options, we take an innovative approach, in partnership with Olympus Solutions, to support participants and employers in New South Wales. We are committed to providing employment services that meet your needs as an individual.

Disability employment services for employers

Disability employment services can also help workplaces to recruit and manage people with a disability. Services include advising on workforce diversity, designing or refining jobs to better suit people living with disabilities, finding staff, provision of wage subsidies (if eligible) and supporting new and ongoing staff.

Having a diverse workforce reflects the Australian population, where more than four million people are estimated to live with a disability such as temporary or long-term impairment, a limitation on their activity, or restricted participation. Almost one in five of us live with such a condition, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare People With Disability report.

In addition to increasing workplace belonging and equity, enhancing staff and personal engagement, and demonstrating your credentials as an employer of choice, businesses can benefit from engaging a diverse workforce, including people living with disabilities. There are also gains in a positive and inclusive work culture. Make 2023 the year you gain the benefits of being in a diverse workforce.

At Ability Options, our mission is to support people who need help to achieve their goals and to feel included in the community. We are a listed provider of disability employment services. Find out more.

[1] Lindsay, S., Cagliostro, E., Albarico, M., et. al., “A Systematic Review of the Benefits of Hiring People with Disabilities”, Journal of Occupational Rehabilitation, 2018, Feb, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10926-018-9756-z, accessed December 2022.

What is DES?

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