Frequently Asked Questions

Self-Employment Assistance can help individuals interested in starting their own business or existing small businesses needing assistance to become viable. The Self-Employment Assistance Program is delivered as part of the Federal Government’s Workforce Australia. A total of 10,000 places are available around Australia each year, delivered by a network of providers.

Self-Employment Assistance providers offer support to turn a good idea into a viable business. The program allows you the flexibility to choose the level of support needed and assists people and their businesses by offering:

  • Exploring Self-Employment Workshops
  • Business Plan Development
  • Accredited Small Business Training
  • Business Advice Sessions
  • Business Health Checks
  • Small Business Coaching*

* Participants receiving Small Business Coaching may also be eligible to receive financial support (fortnightly Allowance) for up to 39 weeks and Rental Assistance for up to 26 weeks.

Self-Employment Assistance, previously known as NEIS, has been providing assistance for over 35 years. Read some of our business success stories.

How does the Self-Employment Assistance Program work?
  • Contact your nearest Self-Employment provider, who will determine if you are eligible to participate in the Self-Employment Assistance Program.
  • If the Self-Employment Assistance Program is suitable for you and / or your business, they will assist you to identify the support most suited to your needs, or that of your existing business.
  • You will receive practical small business support delivered through the relevant services, whether that be group training and / or one on one support.

The range of support services available, if eligible, include:

Exploring Self-Employment Workshops help you understand what is involved in starting a business and can assist you to generate or research a business idea and make an informed decision about whether self-employment is right for you. Workshops are delivered over 25 hours over 1 to 3 weeks.

Business Plan Development  can provide you with one-on-one support to develop a business plan helping you to focus on the steps and actions necessary to make your business succeed. You can then have your business plan reviewed and assessed for viability.

Accredited Small Business Training provided for up to 8 weeks, provides you with the skills and knowledge to start and operate a small business. You can choose to enrol in one of the following Qualifications or Skill Sets, however will need to discuss the details with your provider before commencing. A full Qualification can take longer than the training period alone.

  • Certificate III in Entrepreneurship and New Business (BSB30220)
  • Certificate IV in Entrepreneurship and New Business (BSB40320)
  • Micro Business Skill Set (BSBSS00102)
  • New Business Ventures Skill Set (BSBSS00103)
  • Small Business Management Skill Set (BSBSS00104)

Business Advice Sessions are delivered by an experienced small business mentor. These one-on-one sessions give you targeted small business advice, whether you are wanting to start your own small business or are already running an existing business and need extra support. You can book up to 2 free one-hour sessions every 12 months.

Business Health Checks provide a one-on-one session with an experienced small business advisor who can help you assess your business’s performance and explore ways to improve the business opportunity. This service is delivered over 3 hours and can be accessed once every 12 months.

Small Business Coaching provides you with up to 12 months of personalised small business mentoring and support to help you start and run your small business. During that time, you may be able to access up to $300 to assist with business start-up costs, a fortnightly allowance* for up to 39 weeks, and rental assistance for up to 26 weeks.

* Please note that if you are not receiving an eligible government income support payment you would not be eligible for the fortnightly Allowance or Rental Assistance.

Eligible income support payments include Job Seeker Allowance, Parenting Payment, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension and Youth Allowance. Your eligibility for the Allowance and Rental Assistance will be discussed during the application process.

For more details, find your nearest Self-Employment Assistance provider with our postcode search tool.

Am I eligible for the Self-Employment Assistance Program?
Eligibility includes that you are:
  • At least 15 years of age (noting that a person must be 18 years of age to access Small Business Coaching)
  • An Australian citizen, or hold a permanent visa or nominated Visa Holder (including a New Zealand Special Category Visa, Temporary Protection Visa Holder and a Safe Haven Visa Holder)
  • Not be an undischarged bankrupt


Additional eligibility criteria will apply for some services available through Self-Employment Assistance. This may include that the business:

  • Is either a new business or a micro-business (with up to 4 employees, including the business owner) which is at risk of not operating commercially
  • Is assessed as potentially viable
  • Has an independent business structure
  • Is lawful and capable of withstanding public scrutiny
  • Is established, located, and operated solely within Australia
  • Will allow program participants to maintain a controlling interest over the business throughout their time in the program
  • Can operate the required hours.

Your Self-Employment Assistance provider can discuss and assess your eligibility further during the application process.

For more details, find your nearest Self-Employment Assistance provider with our postcode search tool.

Is my business idea eligible for the Self-Employment Assistance program?

The Self-Employment Assistance program is suitable for most small business ideas. Contact your nearest provider to discuss the suitability and eligibility of your business idea.


Reading some of our business success stories may also give you some idea of the diversity of businesses started through Self-Employment Assistance.


You can find your nearest Self-Employment Assistance provider by using our postcode search tool.