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 as NDIS-supported options.

One is called Community Participation and the other is School Leaver Employment Supports.

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.



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.

School Leaver Employment Supports (SLES)

Here is a brief guide to SLES from the NDIS website:

SLES is about giving you the skills and confidence to help you move from school to employment.

SLES offers you individualised support for up to 2 years after finishing year 12 to help you get ready for work and plan your pathway to employment.

A general overview booklet of the SLES program can be found here

These videos are about the stories of SLES participants, and what you might be able to expect as a participant. 



Eligibility criteria 

To be eligible to SLES, you need to:

  • Be a year 12 student 
  • Be an NDIS participant

If you are not eligible for a post school program such as SLES, you should then enquire about Disability Employment Services.

You may also also access support from TAFE NSW if you are enrolled in a School Leaver Employment Supports or Community Participation program.

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

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

If you have further questions, the SLES has a FAQ linked here

Please visit this page to view changes to SLES in 2018. 

Tasmania post school services is now serviced by the NDIS, click here.

Eligibility criteria for both options

To be eligible for 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 this program as a school leaver:

  • 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 
  • 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.) 
  • 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 may also be able to access support from Tafe NSW when they are enrolled in a SLES or Community Participation program.

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

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


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