A Guide to Picking a Disability Employment Provider

Little known fact: If you’re engaging with the Disability Employment Service you get to choose which provider you use!

Many jobseekers are referred to the DES service by Centrelink and may not realise that there are many providers they can choose from.

If you are eligible to use the Disability Employment Service, you can pick the DES provider of your choice AND switch providers if you want to change.

Am I eligible for the Disability Employment Service?

The term ‘Disability Employment Service’ can often be misleading.

If you live with a diagnosed health condition, injury, illness OR disability you could be eligible for more intensive, specialised employment support through the Disability Employment Service (DES).

If you are eligible for the Disability Employment Service you get to choose which DES provider you use. General eligibility criteria for DES:

  1. You need to be looking for work (duh!)
  2. Have a diagnosed health condition, injury, illness or disability
  3. Receive a Centrelink benefit and/or have an NDIS Plan
  4. Be aged at least 14 and under Age Pension age
  5. Are an Australian resident
  6. Not be studying full time.


Your right to choose and change DES providers is protected by the National Standards for Disability Services.

You can make an informed choice by researching the providers in your area. Below are some tips on how to assess the suitability of DES providers. Finding a job has a big impact on your life and if you choose a provider that does not suit your unique needs and values you as an individual, then you are potentially missing out on a life-changing opportunity!


DES Info sheet download

Things to consider when choosing a Disability Employment Service provider:

Find out who the Disability Employment Service providers are in your area

All DES providers are contracted by the Federal Government of Australia. The government lists all providers for your area on the jobsearch website.

You can access a list of local providers by visiting the ‘Find a Provider’ page at jobsearch.

Ask around for word of mouth referrals

Ask around your local and community networks and get trusted feedback from the personal experiences of local people. If a past customer is satisfied with the service and support they’ve received from a DES provider – and is a positive advocate – you can feel more confident in the choices you make.

Search their name and see the results

Type the name of your potential provider into an internet search engine. Not only will you be able to look through their website, you can also find insights, such as community involvement, press coverage, reviews or awards for innovative programs.

Check the Star Rating of potential providers

“The Star Ratings measure provider sites’ relative success in achieving employment or education outcomes for their job seekers and are updated every three months. Sites with 5-Stars are the best performing while sites with 1-Star are the lowest. The ratings methodology allows for differences in job seeker and labour market characteristics across the country that influences outcomes. “ – jobsearch

Star Ratings vary dramatically in some cases. For example, the same provider might have a one star site and a five star site. Remember to occasionally check-up on the ratings as these can change and are updated regularly.

Request an in-person meeting

Asking to meet with a representative from the DES provider will give you a good insight into how the organisation operates. You will be able to see if they are they professional, timely and supportive. Most providers tend to specialise in certain areas but this may not be evident on their promotional material or website. Find out if they do specialise and if that suits your circumstances. They might have a focus on education but you are after employment, or they might focus on youth but you are older. It can be worth asking how the team at that site is structured, the roles of team members, and their qualifications.

Try a trial period

Give your provider a trial period, for example, maybe six months or even a year. This way you can get a good feel for the suitability and sustainability of their service. You can see if their service meets your needs, makes you feel comfortable and is helping you work towards your employment goals.

How to switch DES Providers

And remember - if you find a DES provider that you prefer, you can switch providers. Jobseekers can change providers up to 5 times a year to ensure they find the provider that suits their needs best. Call the National Customer Service line on 1800 805 260 or visit jobaccess.gov.au for more information.

You can also also tell the staff of your current DES provider that you wish to change. They are then required to help facilitate a transfer for you to your newly chosen provider.

CHESS Connect have been supporting local jobseekers into work SINCE 1995. With offices across the Hastings Valley, Coffs Coast, Clarence Valley and Lismore we are THE regional specialists in disability employment, with strong connections with community and industry. Our staff are committed to supporting your goals in achieving sustainable and fulfilling employment.


If you think you’d be eligible for the DES program OR if you want to switch DES providers, send us your details and one of our friendly team will be in touch with within 2 business hours.

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  • Our employment supports are designed to provide extra support to local people who experience barriers when looking for work. These include people living with disadvantage, injury, a health condition, disability or mental ill-health, including depression and anxiety.

    If you are unsure about your eligibility you can still enquire and a friendly team member will contact you for a confidential chat. You do not have to declare any type of disability or condition in our enquiry form if you don't wish to.

*our DES supports are delivered in partnership with CoAct Employment and the Department of Social Services