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Fairer support for school leavers with disabilities

Assessment tool and predictive model developed by Australian Health Services Research Institute expected to be taken up nationally

On leaving school, many young people with disabilities need a little more time and support to help them develop life skills and to participate in the community. A more equitable solution was needed for distributing support to school leavers with disabilities.

It was at this point in 2002 that Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) in the NSW Department of Family and Community Services called on UOW’s Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI).

ADHC identified that an AHSRI research and development work stream on functional assessment may provide the solution it was seeking.

Programs run by ADHC have been providing funding to students at one of two levels - aiming either to improve employment outcomes for participants (Transition to Work) or, for those who are not able to move to employment, to help in the development of life skills to increase the participant’s independence (Community Participation - CP).

AHSRI researchers, led by Professor Kathy Eagar, developed an assessment tool to capture the relevant information about the school leaver applicants to determine their eligibility for each level of the program.

The 15-year-long collaboration has seen the introduction of an assessment approach and analytical methods that were new to this sector.

“We run the assessment scores through the predictive model and are able to consider the outcome in light of the comments made by the assessors. We participate in the review process that is available for applicants who wish to appeal their allocation. Our close connection to each stage of the process has enabled constant refinement, resulting in very few requests for reviews,” Professor Eagar said.

“Being part of the process that equitably and effectively matches these applicants to appropriate support is perhaps the greatest reward of this collaboration.”

The AHSRI team continues to be closely involved in the process for assessing support needs.

Reforms in this sector mean that the provision of this type of support is moving from ADHC to the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The assessment tool developed by AHSRI has been used successfully to determine program eligibility during the current transition period and it is anticipated that this will continue, and be adopted nationally.


Partner organisation

NSW Department of Family and Community Services

UOW participants

Prof. Kathy Eagar, A/Prof. Janette Green, Ms Meg Blanchard, Ms Milena Snoek, A/Prof. Rob Gordon, Dr Luise Lago

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