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What is a University Specialist Employment Partnership?

University Specialist Employment Partnerships set up local on-campus employment services that has been developed with and for graduates with disability in Australia, to improve rates of employment for students after University. We are a collaboration between passionate partners in Universities, Disability Employment Services and the National Disability Coordination Officer Program.

Currently, USEP is in trial mode at six universities in Australia, harnessing existing support, services and resources.   The aim is to provide a free service for graduates wishing to access support to obtain graduate employment through the Australian Government Disability Employment Services program.

This program allows on-campus access to a university employment consultant specialising in Disability Employment for eligible graduates with disability* and connects graduates with existing university student career services that may also assist them.

USEP has been developed and is being led by a team of National Disability Coordination Officers under the National Disability Coordination Officer program, funded by the Australian Government.


Student FAQ’s


Are there any timelines around gaining suitable employment?

The cut off is negotiated by each partnership – generally starting 1 year prior to graduation and ending 1 year post.  In post-graduation, students are able to register with the provider directly to continue to receive the USEP service off campus or remotely, hopefully as you begin work and settle in.  Typically, this support lasts for 6 months to one year with the possibility of extension from the moment you start work.

What can you help me with?

You will receive tailored one-on-one support from a dedicated consultant in addition to the services provided at your university to help you meet your post graduation employment goals.  The practical application of this will vary – but the first discussion is about your resume, work experience, and plans for work.  If you do not have any field related work experience this is a likely first stop – brokering experience with an employer for you to get current references & experience while we focus on graduate round applications.  One of the supports which is likely to be utilised often is about disclosure of disability and working with managers, or if preferred, yourself directly to manage this.

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

Who will be collecting and analysing the data?

The National Disability Coordination Officers are collecting summary data with the view to provide insight into this field and suggest further improvements.  USEP is a learning based group – and all summary information will be released in written reports for the benefit of University students with disability.  Your personal information will not be released without your express written consent.

When I fill in the registration form, who has access to this?

The employment partner and the National Disability Coordination Officer in your region will receive and action your referral.

Can the NDIS cover any of the costs of the consultant?

The NDIS will not fund an on campus employment specialist.   The consultant is free – funded by participating employment providers.

What are the expected qualifications of the consultant?

Degree or higher, or, demonstrated experience working with graduates with disability or in a University in a related field (employment, support) would be the best practice choice.  Ultimately, the 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.

Disclosure of Disability to graduate employers is also your choice – your consultant and yourself can build a plan which will work best for you and your individual circumstances at your first meeting.

have a read about what some graduates with disability say about sharing information about their disability with prospective employers: Disclosure research


University FAQ’s


How does this work with the student services team?

The student services team is integral in identifying students who would like additional career support and providing referral or introductions to the 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 this 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 to advocate for accessible graduate positions.  Careers teams will be able to work closely with the consultant on prospective organisations who are leading the way with diversity intakes and policy – and the consultant will be able to prepare and assist students with disability at your university to apply and enter these programs.

How can we help a USEP consultant settle in?

Universities will need to introduce the consultant to the career planning and integrated experiences occurring at your particular institution.  It is best practice to have the consultant aware of all the current opportunities the university provides so that this can be promoted in the one-on-one conversations, and the consultant can assist the student to access and participate if required.

These types of colocation programs work best when good relationships are formed and great conversations start. The best thing you can do is have a conversation and get to know each other – and then figure out how best to work together to improve graduates with disability employment rates from your institution.

What about Work Integrated Learning (WIL)?

Research demonstrates practical and relevant experience on a resume assists with employability.   At times, work experience may be a very nerve wracking 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 person responsible for this so they can get to know each other.  A possible model for integration is offering a referral to USEP after work placements – so the student continues to receive support to convert their recent experience into graduate work.

Provider FAQ’s

What is required of the DES?

  • Allocate a suitably qualified staff member with long term goals with your organisation one day a week to the pilot.
  • The consultant does not engage in any DES work while they are on campus.
  • The consultant learns from the university careers team, and learns from the university equity/diversity team.
  • The consultant shares their knowledge about disability employment, disclosure, workplace modification and reverse marketing with staff members.
  • Consultant participates in a network of USEP consultants and attends virtual training, engages with local NDCO.
  • Consultant gets students with disability into graduate jobs – brokering internships, marketing to employers with graduate intakes, and working one-on-one with the student to build and enact a career plan with the support of the careers & equity teams if required.

What is the benefit to the DES?

  • Work with medium & large business to improve their diversity and graduate intake of students with disability
  • Enhance links with Universities and build relationships based around improving employment for people with disability
  • The organisation is a leader in their community and promotes the diversity of the leaders of the future
  • Staff member joins a network of consultants to learn & grow – bringing ideas and skills back to the organisation
  • Be a part of a strategic trial to lead policy development

Why not just deliver the standard DES program on campus?

  • The standard DES program in general 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.
  • It needs to be stand alone to ensure that the student gets help to find a graduate job instead of any job in a flexible way that suits the student.
  • 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.

How is the consultant paid?

  • DES providers view it as a strategic program as a part of their community engagement and performance strategies, and funds the consultant.
  • Providers are then able to have the students enter the DES program after graduation, ideally with a job to go straight into.

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