If you’re interested in starting your own business, you may be eligible to participate in Self-Employment Assistance, previously known as NEIS. The program has been assisting people to start their own businesses with free support for over 35 years, and is part of the Australian Government’s Workforce Australia initiative. Training and Advice is delivered by a network of experienced providers across Australia, offering support to turn a good opportunity into a viable business. You can find your nearest Self-Employment Assistance provider by using our postcode search tool.

During Training you will develop a comprehensive business plan and learn small business management skills. Your business plan will be reviewed to ensure that it meets the program criteria and has the potential to become a commercially viable business.

Self-Employment Assistance provides a range of support services, and gives you the flexibility to choose the assistance that best suits your individual and business needs. Services offered include:


  • 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

Over the past 35 years, NEIS and now Self Employment Assistance has helped more than 185,000 people start their own businesses. Read some of our inspirational business success stories here

There has been a broadening of eligibility in recent times, which means that you no longer need to be receiving government income support payments to access support.

Eligibility now includes:
  • People working or studying up to 25 hours per week, and those with significant caring responsibilities
  • People over 65 years of age in receipt of the age pension
  • Retrenched workers in the last three months of their employment
  • Serving members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) with an identified transition date, and their direct family members
  • Existing micro-business owners (with up to 4 employees) who need help to build a viable business.

* 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 JobSeeker 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.

To participate in Self-Employment Assistance you must:
  • be at least 15 years of age (noting that a person must be 18 years of age to access Small Business Coaching)
  • be 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
  • not already be in education and / or employment for more than 25 hours per week*


There are 12,000 Self-Employment Assistance places available nationally each year, delivered by a network of Self-Employment Assistance providers.

Contact your nearest Self-Employment Assistance provider for a chat, to discuss the suitability and eligibility of your business idea. You can find your nearest Self-Employment Assistance provider by using our postcode search tool.


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