The Disability Employment Services (DES) program funded by the federal Department of Social Services assists over 310,000 jobseekers with disability to get and keep employment. There are around 40 DES providers in hundreds of locations across NSW. 

Guide to working with disability employment services

Use our guide to help you work with disability employment services to recruit in your workplace.

What disability employment services do

DES support some people with disability to gain and maintain meaningful employment by: 

  • connecting candidates to the right job for them
  • preparing both the workplace and candidate for employment
  • offering ongoing support to ensure success in the long term.

Through offering pre-employment and on the job support to candidates, DES can save employers time and money in the recruitment of high-quality people. Providers continue to offer support after an employee commences in the new role, to ensure that a new employee is settling into the new role. All this support is provided at no cost to the employer.  

Each provider works with their own program participants and there is no straightforward method to reach candidates across providers.  

Almost all DES are ‘generalist’ services, meaning they work across all types of disability. Some are ‘specialist’ services meaning that they work with participants with a type of disability.  For example, there are specialist providers for people with intellectual disability, vision impairment and mental illness.   

How and when to engage with DES

  1. Prepare: do your research and understand the providers in your area.
  2. Connect and communicate: connect with a DES provider. Explain your business requirements, the role/s on offer (and the role description/s), and how public sector recruitment works. The earlier the engagement the better to ensure that the DES provider can meet your needs.
  3. Develop the relationship: DES providers will work closely with you to develop a relationship, and understand your agency, and the vacancies available at any given time. The aim is to find a great match between what you are looking for and the DES participant put forward for interview. Building a good relationship can lead to more mutually beneficial outcomes, including more sustainable employment opportunities for people with disability.

Demand led partnerships

There are many different approaches to recruitment and some providers are better matched to some methods. While the primary focus of DES is on individual placements, some of the larger services provide innovative and ‘demand led’ or project led approaches. 

Demand led partnerships are when an employer develops a strategic partnership with a DES provider to fill roles, leveraging the skills of the provider to source suitably skilled candidates. Although not commonly used, this recruitment method can provide excellent and mutually beneficial outcomes. This could be a method for you to consider when working with larger DES providers – especially if you have multiple roles available and can take adequate lead time to work with the provider to plan the approach and source suitable candidates.

DES providers in your region

Visit Job Access to find a DES provider near you.

Generally, DES providers can:

  • present to you on their service
  • job match candidates and address focus capabilities
  • facilitate workplace adjustments and WHS advice
  • assist with induction and development of 6-month support plan
  • deliver the Work Assist program to support current employees with disability.

Providers can also offer additional services. 

For more information on Disability Employment Services, visit the Department of Social Services' website

Organisations which provide fee for service disability employment programs

These organisations are not funded by government and are funded by the employers who use their services. A key difference between these services and DES, is that the fee for service programs start with the employer’s needs and then matches the jobseeker. DES providers usually start with the candidate and then look for a suitable employer.

Stepping into Internship Program (Australian Network on Disability)

AND’s Stepping Into program is an internship program that matches talented university students with disability to specific requirements of member organisations. 

Engagement: Individual internships  
Internal resources: Co-ordination with hiring managers
Cost: $3,900 for each intern (AND membership required) 
Lead-time: February for July program, July for December/January/February program 


Auticon provide people on the autism spectrum with employment in IT. Auticon are an approved IT supplier under the NSW Government procurement scheme. 

Engagement: Contracted services 
Internal resources: commitment to contracted services. 
Cost: requires discussion.
Lead-time: requires discussion 

Dandelion Program

DXC Technology established the Dandelion Program in Australia in 2014 to help establish careers for people on the autism spectrum. DXC is an approved IT supplier under the NSW Government procurement scheme. 

The Dandelion Program focuses on information technology skills, testing, data science and cyber security. Its employment programs are 1-, 2- or 3-years duration with various support structures.

Engagement: Programs and contracted services with individual placements at program completion.
Internal resources: commitment, negotiation, and project manager.
Cost: requires discussion.
Lead-time: requires discussion 


Jigsaw is a social enterprise that trains and transitions people with disability into award wage employment and is an approved provider under the NSW Government procurement scheme. 

Engagement: Individual roles
Internal resources: Program leader for co-ordination
Cost: requires discussion.
Lead-time: 3-6 months 


Specialisterne is an international not for profit social innovation enterprise that creates employment opportunities for people with autism.

Engagement: Programs and/or individual placements
Internal resources: Co-ordination, liaison, negotiation, (internal project manager for establishment)
Cost: Program dependent
Lead-time: 6 months+

Xceptional Testing Pty Ltd

Xceptional exists to create meaningful careers for autistic individuals, and has pioneered new approaches to recruitment to source skilled and often overlooked talent, and is an approved provider under the NSW Government procurement scheme. 

Engagement: Programs, Contracted services and/or Individual Placements 
Internal resources: Liaison, co-ordination, and project management  
Cost: Requires discussion
Lead-time: Requires discussion