Autism Spectrum


leaving school and leading your own life

Supported options after school


Until the NDIS takes over, each state has a separate system for assisting school leavers and young people with a disability. We have a detailed description of the NSW programs here and below that are links to the programs run in the other states. 

In NSW, if your son or daughter is not heading to independent study or to work straight after school, there are two supported programs offered by the Department of Family and Community Services, Ageing Disability and Home Care.

One is called Community Participation and the other is Transition to Work.

If your child’s school learning support teachers think he or she would benefit from support after school, they will be able to assist you with more details on the options and on application.

We have included some information below about the programs and some feedback from parents whose children have undertaken these programs.


Transition to work

Here is a brief guide to Transition To Work from FACS’s website:

Over two years, young people with moderate to high support needs learn the skills they will need in the work place, and gain practical work experience in a structured program, usually held over three days per week.

Here is a video from Nova Employment that describes some of the supports a transition to work program can provide and includes a number of young people and employers talking about their experiences.


The aim of Transition to Work programs is to prepare young people to enter the workforce. Young people can explore their own skills and interests and are trained in workplace settings.

The skills needed for to work successfully are also looked at e.g. getting to work on time and building relationships with colleagues. Self help and daily living skills may also be addressed.

You can attend study part-time whilst attending a Transition To Work program. Some service providers may charge a small fee to participants.

Families are encouraged to work with program providers to encourage and build on the skills learned and to encourage recreational and social activities too. Families, friends and personal networks can be tremendously helpful in assisting young people become ready for open employment.

This information is from the program guidelines.


Transition To Work could include:

  • helping young people gain work experience
  • interviewing skills, developing a resume
  • enrolling in a suitable course of study
  • providing information about employment options and career choices
  • supporting development of independence skills such as getting a licence, increasing social opportunities and skills, learning basic cooking skills, travel training
  • obtaining paid employment


My worker at Transition To Work helped me do my resume from top to bottom. She did mock interviews with me and those were really helpful.


We went out and did lots of stuff together. My sense of direction has never been good and so we caught trains and read timetables.

Matt B, 25

Community Participation

This program is aimed at young people with moderate to high support needs who are not planning to seek employment or further study straight after school. Young people learn new skills and enjoy activities which aim to increase independence.

You can start a Community Participation program straight after school or within two years of leaving. You can work or study part time whilst doing a Community Participation program.

24 hours of support is offered to people with moderate to high support needs and 30 hours to people with very high support needs.

Some service providers may charge a small fee to participants. There are different options for the way a Community Participation program may operate:


Centre Based With Community Access

You participate in small group activities at a centre and within the local community.

Individual Community Based Options

A service manager assists you to choose activities within the community.

Self Managed Model

You and your family/carers select and purchase recreational and educational activities with the help of an intermediary service provider.

You can use the money allocated to employ people to work with you, to pay for classes and courses and to do other activities that you enjoy.

Find out more about the self managed model in this online booklet.


It is possible to change from one option to another.

Young people doing Community Participation have an Individual Plan which looks at their goals, skills, the activities they will do and the supports needed.  Health and wellbeing goals are an important part of your child’s Plan. This is reviewed every six months.



Eligibility criteria for both options

To be eligible to Transition To Work or Community Participation, you need to:

  • Have moderate to high support needs
  • Have a disability and be assessed as eligible by FACS
  • Have finished Year 12, although there can be early or late starts
  • Not be in full time employment or study
  • Be a resident of NSW

If your son or daughter does not meet criteria for these programs, you can enquire about support through Disability Employment Services.

How to apply

To apply for either of these programs as a school leaver, the steps are the same:

  • Register interest at school which should have a designated transition teacher
  • With the transition teacher, and a parent or carer if desired, the young person completes a screening tool. This asks questions about daily living skills, behaviour and functioning. ADHC uses the results of this screening tool to determine whether he or she can access Community Participation or Transition To Work
  • Once the young person has been accepted as eligible, they need to start the program within two years. If the application is successful then a provider needs to be chosen. If the application is unsuccessful, the young person does have the right to appeal
  • Choose a Program provider.  The school transition teacher can help, you and your young person may be able to attend an expo where providers can explain in person what they offer.  (Read about one and see some photos here.) You can also get help from your local FACS office. There is a list of providers on the FACS Post School Programs web page
  • Start the Program. This involves developing a Plan which looks at  goals, skills and support needs and then develops methods and strategies for goals to be achieved. This Plan is reviewed to see how skills are developing and whether the young person is gaining the skills and experience needed. It is possible to change providers during the two years of your program.

Young people can also access support from Tafe NSW when they are enrolled in a Transition to Work or Community Participation program.

Read some useful information about how TAFE NSW works with service providers and young people who are in TTW and CP programs here.

Young people can qualify for Youth Allowance whilst participating in a Transition To Work program. They can also keep receiving Disability Support Payment.

Click on Our Stories on the right hand side of the page or click here to read personal stories about supported options after school.

For further information

This page on the FACS website provides further details on eligibility criteria, the assessment procedures and program guidelines for Transition to Work and Community Participation:

You can also call the Post School Programs information line on 1800 761 030.

Or contact your local FACS district office.


For those living outside of NSW there are similar programs in every state and territory:

Click below to find more information



South Australia

Western Australia

Northern Territory

Australian Capital Territory



Choosing a service provider

The website My Choice Matters has a useful list of things to think about when choosing service providers, find it here.

 Choosing provider


Giant Steps Community College

This is NSW only autism-specific post school service provider. The Community College provides opportunities for young people with high support needs to engage in study and in recreation activities.

Giant Steps Community College website here