New website upgrades! What’s new

Supporting Employment Outcomes

Sally examines 5 ways Support Coordinators can help Participants find a job.


Updated 15 Apr 20241 Mar 2021

Support Coordinators and the people who manage them often ask me about the future of Support Coordination. Will the NDIA continue to fund Support Coordination? How much is the NDIA likely to fund, on average, Support Coordination in the future? Who is likely to get Support Coordination funding in the future, and why? All wonderful questions best answered by understanding the journey Support Coordination has taken so far and extrapolating that journey into the future. 

For example, there was an overinvestment in Support Coordination in the early days of the NDIS as Local Area Coordinators (LACs), who were originally designated for Support Connection, were redeployed to planning. Now, LACs are increasingly expected to provide Support Connection to the Participants they support (approximately 80% of Participants); as a result, we are seeing a reduction in Support Coordination funding for these people (even though many LACs are still unable to find the resources they need to offer Support Connection). If this trend continues, we expect the people most likely to get Support Coordination in the future will be those who have their plans developed by an NDIA planner (approximately 20% of Participants). These people have been streamed by the NDIA as Intensiveand Super Intensive. Within the NDIS Participant population, these are the people who have been identified by the NDIA as having the most complex support needs (it’s not an exact science so people are often mis-streamed, which is another blog for another day). This suggests that at least 20% of Participants are likely to get funding for Support Coordination in the future and that these people have relatively complex support needs, requiring more experienced and specialised Support Coordinators. 

In addition to the allocation of Support Coordination for the general coordination of complex support needs, we often see targeted Support Coordination funded for people who need support in navigating life stages or big changes such as moving out of home. People who are preparing to move out of home use Support Coordination to help test Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) eligibility, to advise on the development of a Supported Independent Living (SIL) roster of care or design an Independent Living Options (ILO) arrangement, or to explore mainstream housing options like public housing or private market rental.  

This leads me to the next big Support Coordination priority area: employment. 

The NDIA aims to have 30% of Participants of working age in meaningful employment by 30 June 2023While this goal doesn’t seem particularly ambitious, in June 2019 only 24% of working-age Participants were in employment, a figure that has been largely stable since the launch of the NDIS, with a growth of only 1%. 

The NDIA has been busy making changes to NDIS funding for employment and has an employment strategy aptly titled the NDIS Employment Strategy 2019 – 2022. While all this effort indicates a welcome emphasis on meaningful employment for Participants, it seems probable – given that we are quickly approaching the halfway mark of June 2021 – that the NDIA will fall woefully short of its goal without some serious intervention. Cue Support Coordinators specialising in employment.

Low expectations, ongoing and systemic discrimination and complex employment support systems persist as barriers to reaching employment goals for Australians with disability. Participants need help from Support Coordinators to guide them through an exploration of their employment options, from identifying what’s possible to understanding how it can be funded. Support Coordinators play a key role by helping people address employment barriers, navigate complex employment supports across NDIS and mainstream government and identify and design options to exercise choice and control for meaningful employment. Here are five ways that Support Coordinators can play a critical role in meeting the NDIA’s goals for Participant employment.

1. Initiate conversations about employment early

Employment conversations should start as the person nears working age. In Australia, this is typically 15 years old, but there are exceptions like family businesses, which have no minimum age. Teens can learn valuable life lessons by starting work early: taking on responsibility, understanding the value of money, becoming financially independent and gaining confidence in real-life situations. When teens with disability miss the opportunity for early employment that their peers without disability experience, they are disadvantaged from the outset. Post-school employment conversations should begin while a person is still at school to ensure that funding and support are available when leaving school. 


2. Raise expectations and awareness of possibilities

Conversations should aim to raise awareness of potential employment options, facilitate discussion around contemporary employment models and contribute to a mindset of higher expectations. Stories about how people have pursued meaningful employment can inspire others to think big.


3. Prepare people and their Supporters to request Employment Supports in their NDIS planning meeting

 Support Coordinators can help people establish employment goals by collecting evidence of the support required and quotes for support as part of preparing people and their supporters to request employment supports in their NDIS.


4. Coordinate community, mainstream and NDIS-funded Employment and educational opportunities

Support Coordinators help people navigate complex employment and educational opportunities, such as:

  • Informal employment and educational opportunities like unpaid internships and work experience
  • Community employment and education opportunities like Community Collegesand neighbourhood centres
  • Mainstream employment and education opportunities like TAFEand local businesses
  • Commonwealth supports including people’s rights and the potential impacts of employment on eligibility for the DSPand housing supports
  • NDIS-funded employment and educational opportunities like specialised courses and supported employment


5. Facilitate Employment choice and control

 Support Coordinators can facilitate choice and control by supporting people to take the following steps:

  • Identifying options
  • Comparing options
  • Comparing providers
  • Accessing information in formats people understand
  • Raising expectations about educational and employment opportunities
  • Providing information about how NDIS can be used to fund education and employment

An injection of targeted support from Support Coordinators between now and 30 June 2023 has the potential to support the NDIA in reaching its employment goals for Participants. Support Coordinators and people who manage Support Coordination would do well to develop subject matter expertise in employment, the next big Support Coordination priority area.


Explore DSC

Subscribe to the newsletter you’ll actually want to read

Learn from the humans obsessed with Australia’s NDIS. 50,000 readers strong.

Explore DSC Learning