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What is a University Specialist Employment Partnership?

USEP is a specialist employment on-campus service developed by and for graduates with disability in Australia.  The objective of USEP is to improve employment rates for students with disability after university.  The USEP collaborative partnership consists of University, Disability Employment Service (DES) and Employers currently facilitated by the National Disability Coordination Officer Program, an Australian Government initiative.

USEP is active in twelve universities in Australia, harnessing existing support, services, and resources. Disability Employment Service offer free employment advice and support to graduates with disability seeking internships, graduate positions or employment in their discipline.

USEP was established in 2017 by the National Disability Coordination Officer Program (NDCO).

Watch how USEP operates in Western Sydney


Student FAQs


When can I start?

The timeline is negotiated by each partnership.  Generally starting one year prior to graduation to start the process of linking in with graduate positions and internships and ending one year post.

How can USEP help?

You will receive tailored one-on-one support from a dedicated Disability Specialist Consultant in addition to the services provided at your university.  In preparing for employment, preliminary practical steps will include a review discussion of  your resume, work experience and plans for work.   If you do not have any field related work experience,  we can work with you to broker work experience with an employer, providing you with current references and experience while we focus on graduate round applications.  One of the avenues for support which is extremely helpful is how, if and when  you decide to share personal information on your disability.  The experienced employment consultant will ensure whatever your decision that you have all the tools and support you require to achieve success.

Read about how the USEP Consultant works: Natalie @ Griffith – Introduction

Who collects and analyses the data from the registration form?

The National Disability Coordination Officers are collecting summary data to enable an insight into this field with a view to suggesting further improvements.  USEP is a learning based collaborative initiative – with all information being released for the benefit of university students with disability.  Your personal information will not be released without your written consent.

Will the NDIS cover the costs of the USEP Consultant? 

The NDIS will not fund an on campus employment specialist.   The USEP Consultant is free – funded by participating disability employment providers.  Have you seen the pre-planning toolkit to help with tertiary support?

What are the necessary qualifications for an USEP Consultant?

Degree or higher, or demonstrated experience working with graduates with disability. Ultimately, the USEP Consultant will be passionate about getting University graduates with disability into work.

Will you tell everybody about my disability if I participate? 

Sharing information about disability is your decision to make at all times.  Your participation is confidential. Should you be willing to share your story of study to work, you can opt to provide written consent and restrict it as you see fit.

There are graduate employers that contact the USEP Consultant directly with the knowledge that this employment initiative is for students with disability.

Read about the experience of some graduates with disability and what they say about sharing information about their disability with prospective employers:  Link to research – sharing information about your disability 

What happens after I graduate?

Post-graduation, students can register with the Disability Employment Service provider directly to continue to receive USEP services, hopefully as you begin work and settle in.  Typically this support lasts for up to six months to one year with the possibility of an extension from the moment you start work.


University FAQs


How does USEP work with the student services team?

The student services team is integral in identifying students who could benefit from additional career support and referral for introductions to a USEP Consultant.  It is also a wonderful opportunity for cross learning. Consultants will share what they know about disability employment and will learn all about reasonable adjustments in the University setting.

How does USEP work with the careers team?

Generally speaking, careers teams may not have the time or expertise to provide the additional one-on-one support to upcoming graduates with disability and advocate for accessible graduate positions.  Careers teams will be able to work closely with the USEP Consultant and with prospective organisations who are leading the way with diversity intakes and policy.  The USEP Consultant will be able to prepare and assist university students with disability to apply and enter these programs.

How can we help a USEP Consultant settle in?

As part of the induction process, universities will introduce the USEP Consultant to the career planning team and other integrated services. These types of co-location programs work best when good relationships are formed and great conversations start.  We encourage you to have a conversation and get to know each other; then figure out how best to work together to improve employment rates for your institution’s graduates with disability.

How can USEP be involved in Work Integrated Learning (WIL)?

Research demonstrates practical and relevant experience on a resume assists with employability.   At times, work experience may be a daunting concept for students with disability.  Student concerns may range from being  unsure whether or not they should share information about their disability and what will happen if they ask for reasonable adjustments in a host workplace.  Please introduce the USEP Consultant to your WIL placement staff or the appropriate person so they can establish how to best support the student together.  A possible model for integration is offering a USEP referral after work placements to enable the student to continue to receive support to convert their recent experience into graduate work.

Disability Employment Service FAQs

What is required of the Disability Employment Service (DES)?
  • Allocate a suitably qualified staff member who has or is interested in working graduates to work one day a week in the role of USEP Consultant based at the university.
  • During time on the university campus, the USEP Consultant will not engage in any current DES work, rather, the focus will purely be on working with university staff and graduating students.
  • The USEP Consultant liaises on an ongoing basis with the university careers and equity/diversity teams to gain and increase their knowledge of the working environment and supports offered by the university.
  • The USEP Consultant shares their knowledge on disability employment, sharing personal information on disability, workplace modifications and reverse marketing with staff members.
  • The USEP Consultant will be required to participate in the USEP Consultants Community of Practice and attend virtual training.
  • The USEP Consultant’s responsibility is to obtain employment for graduates with disability.  The USEP Consultant will gather data, broker internships, market to employers with graduate intakes and work one-on-one with the student to build and enact a career plan with the support of the university careers & equity teams if required.
What is the benefit to the DES?
  • Build a strong relationship to be the preferred disability employment service for graduates with disability and the university.
  • Opportunity to expand the scope of your caseload to include job ready and qualified graduates.
  • Work with medium & large businesses with an aim to improving their organisations diversity and graduate intake of students with disability.
  • Enhanced links with universities and building relationships based around improving employment for graduates with disability.
  • Recognition for your organisation as a leader in your community increasing diversity and opening avenues for graduates with disability as future leaders.
  • The USEP Consultant will join a network of Consultants to learn and grow – bringing innovative ideas and skills back to the organisation.
  • Become part of this strategic initiative to influence and lead policy development.
Why not just deliver the standard DES program on campus?
  • The standard DES program generally is not equipped to work with university graduates.
  • USEP is an additional, separate, voluntary only, specialist support.
  • There is only one purpose of the program: to get university students with disability into graduate work.
  • USEP is a ‘stand alone’ initiative that ensures that the student receives the necessary support to find a a graduate job that recognises and utilises their qualifications.  USEP is not about finding any job for the student to meet a DES monthly target.  Rather it is building a long-term relationship with Universities and an employment pathway for graduates with disability.
  • There are risks for Universities hosting services on-campus that may effect student’s payments, life, and schedule.  For this reason we request complete separation from standard DES activities.
How is the consultant paid?
  • DES providers view USEP as a strategic partnership within their community engagement and performance strategies funding their consultant for their role in expanding their business to graduate employers.
  • USEP allows direct access to university students close to graduating.  The preparation component on campus is in-kind and payment occurs after the student graduates and chooses to register with DES for continuation of service or secures graduate employment.

Additional Information

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