Employment can offer many more advantages to a person with Down syndrome than simply a source of income. Work gives structure, a sense of purpose, feelings of competency and pride whilst offering an opportunity to learn new things and meet new people. Work can fulfil the need for an individual to be productive, can promote independence, enhance self-esteem, and allow for participation in the mainstream of life.

There are several options to consider when thinking about employment. The various employment options can be considered in how they meet an individual’s current needs and interests or can be used in combination as a pathway to an employment goal. Different styles of employment support services are available to provide training and support which enables school leavers and adults with intellectual disabilities to work in ordinary work situations. Some individuals with Down syndrome are working full time others have a mixture of activities during the week.

Open employment

Employing someone with Down syndrome - It's good for business! - Video

For a person who is interested in employment in a mainstream job in the open job market, Centrelink can be contacted for an assessment of capacity to work and to determine the supports needed to achieve this goal.

Employment in the open market, of more than 8 hours per week, is commonly obtained with the support of a Disability Employment Service  (DES). DES providers are contracted by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. A DES can assist job seekers to gain and maintain employment in the open employment market. They provide training, job placement and on-the-job support.

For a list of DES providers in your area click here.


Job Access

JobAccess is the national hub for workplace and employment information for people with disability, employers and service providers.

JobAccess provides information on, for example: financial support, workplace modifications, help with finding and changing jobs, creating flexible work environments, links to career advice and training courses, connecting with employers, providers and peak bodies and a range of other tools and resources for people with a disability, employers and service providers.

For further information on JobAccess click here 


Supported employment

Australian Disability Enterprises (ADEs) 

Australian Disability Enterprises are generally not-for-profit organisations providing supported employment opportunities to people with disability. ADEs provides a wide range of employment opportunities and they operate within a commercial context.

There are ADEs across Australia providing supported employment assistance to approximately 20,000 people with moderate to severe disability. ADEs are funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services.

Australian Disability Enterprises will offer a much higher rate of onsite support which adjust according to a persons support needs. The hours of employment can vary to suit the individual and the enterprise.

School Leaver Transition programs

School leavers can enrol in the Victorian Government Transition to Employment (TTE) two year program which is  designed to develop work skills and build capacity in young people to improve opportunities for employment. The TTE program is being replaced by the NDIS funded School Leaver Employment Support (SLES) 2 year program as it is rolled out across Australia

Legal advocacy

The AED Legal Centre provides legal advocacy to people with a disability in the areas of employment, education and training. If you have concerns about your employment conditions you can contact the AED website

NDIS and employment

The NDIS provides various levels of funding for ADE service providers in relation to support for people in the supported employment environment. There is also some provision for funding support in “Finding and keeping a job” for individuals who are not currently able to register for employment of 8 hours or above. This support is on a fee-for-service basis and can be included in an NDIS plan.

For details of what the NDIS will fund click here