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Using NDIS funding to transition from school to work

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Transition from school

The transition from school to adult life is an important and often challenging time. This can be particularly true for young people with intellectual disability.

It’s a time when teenagers are beginning to think of themselves as adults and think about what they want to do when they leave school. For families of young people with intellectual disability, it can be a time when you worry a lot about what they will do when they leave school.

For a long time, employment opportunities for school leavers with intellectual disability have been very limited. Most people end up working in Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs), going to day programs or not doing much at all. Parents have described the end of school as feeling like you are about to ‘fall off a cliff’.

However, there are things that increase the chance of people with intellectual disability successfully transitioning from school to work. These include:

Using your NDIS plan to transition from school to work

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants who are 15 years and over can apply for employment support to be added to their plan. This means students with disability can get NDIS employment support when they are in Year 10. This doesn’t replace transition planning and the transition activities that schools provide, like work experience in Year 10 and support from a careers counsellor. By working together with your school, you can use NDIS supports to add to what they offer.

For example, you could use NDIS support to:

  • find extra work experience opportunities
  • provide support and workplace training during work experience
  • help young people look at the different kinds of work that might suit them
  • help create a resume and portfolio
  • help young people to develop work-related skills
  • support young people and their family at transition planning meetings.

When students are in Year 12, the NDIS can also provide School Leavers Employment Supports (SLES). SLES helps young people develop skills and experiences and connects them with supports to help them get a job. SLES is a lump sum of funding. You can use it flexibly as and when you need it.

How to ask for NDIS employment support

You ask for employment support funding in your NDIS plan the same way you ask for other kinds of NDIS support. This means organising and preparing for an NDIS planning meeting so your young person can add their employment goals. Timing is important so that they have the funds in their plan when they need them. If it is a long time until your next meeting, ask your Local Area Coordinator (LAC) or Planner to apply for an unscheduled plan review. You may need to provide evidence that your circumstances have changed.

Your young person will need goals that relate to employment so that the right supports can be included in their NDIS plan. A long-term goal could be to have a job in open employment. A short-term goal would be about the next steps they need to take towards getting a job. This will change over time. Keep it fairly broad so that it’s relevant until the next year’s plan.

It’s important to think about what your young person wants and write down goals to take to the planning meeting. If you use a planning workbook, take this to the meeting too. Also bring along other information like school reports.

The good thing about using the NDIS for employment, is that the supports in your young person’s plan are designed specifically for them. With your support, your young person decides what their employment goals are and how they use the supports in their plan. This includes choosing who provides their supports and what they help them with. Your young person doesn’t have to fit into a program or share supports with other people.

You can find out more about getting ready for work in the ‘Let’s talk about work’ booklet on the NDIS website.

An Easy Read version of the booklet is also available (PDF).

An Australian Disability Enterprises (ADE) is a type of employment support for people with disability who need significant support to work.
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