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Learn more about the Return to Work program

1. The Return to Work program

1.1 The Return to Work program (Program) supports women through the development of a Return to Work Plan which may include the provision of funding to buy goods and services that will help reduce barriers to finding employment. 

1.2 The Program is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a disproportionate impact on women’s employment and workforce participation. 

1.3 Stereotypes around the role of women result in many doing more unpaid housework and taking on more caring responsibilities than men. This unequal division of unpaid work has increased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In turn, this increase in unpaid work has reduced the ability of many women to participate in paid work.  

1.4 Women are also more likely to work in many of the industries hit hardest by COVID-19. Many of the women experiencing unemployment as a result of the pandemic will need to retrain or upskill in order to embrace new opportunities. 

1.5 The Program acknowledges and seeks to address some of the financial challenges women face in returning to the workforce in a COVID-19 recovery environment.

2. What does the Program involve?

2.1 The Program is administered by Service NSW in partnership with Women NSW and the Department of Customer Service.

2.2 Women who receive a grant must develop a Return to Work Plan with the assistance of a Return to Work Coordinator. Service NSW will appoint each eligible woman a Return to Work Coordinator for this purpose.

1.1 How the grant may be used

No. Category Examples Comments

1.

Education/Training

  • accredited training
  • pre-payment of HECS – HELP fees
  • career coaching
  • assistance with job seeking skills

$5000 may be used for this category. 

The grant recipient is responsible for arranging their own enrolment and payment.

2.

Textbooks/Stationery

  • prescribed material for courses, including textbooks, personal protective equipment, tools of trade or similar material 

  • stationery 

Up to $500 may be used towards this category.

The grant recipient is responsible for making all purchases.

3.

Professional attire

  • industry-specific uniforms and professional clothing  

  • grooming 

  • personal protective equipment 

Up to $500 may be used towards this category.

The grant recipient is responsible for making all purchases.

4.

Childcare/Respite for carers

  • fees for childcare/family day from a Registered Provider
  • before/after school care fees
  • fees for respite care from a Registered Provider

Up to $3500 may be used towards this category.

The grant recipient is responsible for making their own childcare and respite arrangements.

5.

Transportation

  • car registration fees 

  • costs of vehicle repair carried out by a registered mechanic 

  • public transport fees 

  • driver licence fees 

  • driving lessons 

Up to $500 may be used for this category.

The grant recipient is responsible for making their own transportation arrangements.

6.

Technology and office equipment

  • computer/laptop/tablet 

  • mobile phone 

  • learning/ training software  

  • home office equipment  

Up to $2000 may be used for this category.

The grant recipient is responsible for making all purchases.

7.

Relocation costs in order to take up a job opportunity

  • travel 

  • shipping personal belongings 

Up to $2500 may be used for this category.

The grant recipient is responsible for making all relocation arrangements.

Note: Relocation expenses will require proof of a job offer in a location that is at least 50 km away from the applicant's home address at the time of applying for the Program.

3. Who is eligible?

3.1 To be eligible for the Program, women must:

  • (a) be an NSW resident;
  • (b) intend to return to the workforce as an employee within six months; and 
  • (c) if previously employed; 
    • (i) be unemployed for the 30 days or more preceding the date of application, or
    • (ii) worked, on average, no more than 16 hours per week, on a casual basis, in the preceding 30 days and the gross weekly income is less than or equal to $721.15
    • (iii) intend to return to work within six months; 
  • (d) if: 
    •  (i) previously earning income from a business, have for a period of at least 30 days, ceased earning income from that business, 
    •  (ii) earning other income, such income must not exceed $721.15 gross per week.

3.2 Women are ineligible if they:

  • (a) are currently enrolled in school; or 
  • (b) are on leave, under an entitlement from full-time/part-time employment, and have a role to return to; or  
  • (c) have participated in any other Return to Work program administered by Service NSW.

4. How do I apply?

4.1 Customers who registered their interest in the Program during the Expression of Interest (EOI) period will be invited to apply for the Program. 

4.2 All applications must be submitted via:

  • (a) the Service NSW website, or
  • (b) the Service NSW mobile application.

4.3 Timeframes and key dates

  • (a) Applications will open on 5 September 2022. 
  • (b) Applications will close either when funding is exhausted or six months from the application open date specified in clause 4.3(a), whichever occurs first. 

4.4 All applications must be submitted via:

  • (a) the Service NSW website, or
  • (b) the Service NSW mobile application.

4.5 Applicants must provide:

  • (a) personal contact details (name, email, and phone number);
  • (b) proof of identity; 
  • (c) details of an Australian bank account;  
  • (d) proof of residence in NSW;
  • (e) if previously employed:
    • (i) proof of redundancy, for example, a severance letter, bank statements, or a Centrelink JobSeeker statement; and 
    • (ii) details of previous employment, including employment status (full-time, part-time, casual or temporary) and working hours, and 
  • (f) if earning income from a business:
    • (i) the relevant business Australia Business Number (ABN) details, and 
    • (ii) if the ABN is registered, proof the applicant ceased earning income from the business for at least 30 days prior to their application. For example: 
    • (A) the most recent Business Activity Statement (BAS), or 
    • (B) a letter from a qualified accountant, registered tax agent or registered BAS agent confirming the applicant no longer derives such income. 

4.6 To receive the grant, applicants must: 

  • (a) declare their intention to return to work within six months; and 
  • (b) fully complete the online application and submit all requisite documentation as stated on the application before the application close date set out in clause 4.3(b); and 
  • (c) submit a draft Return to Work Plan as part of the online application, providing as much information as possible about how you intend to spend the grant; or discuss the Return to Work Plan at an appointment with the Return to Work Coordinator. 

4.7 Application approval and process 

  • (a) SNSW will assess all applications. 
  • (b) Approval is discretionary, lodging an application does not guarantee approval. 
  • (c) Service NSW will use reasonable endeavours to notify applicants of the outcome of their application within 21 days.
  • (d) All eligible applicants will be invited to attend an appointment with a Return to Work Coordinator and will be provided with information to help you prepare for the appointment. 
  • (e) The Return to Work Coordinator will finalise the Return to Work Plan which must outline:
    • (i) the applicant’s employment goals; 
    • (ii) the way in which the grant will assist in achieving such goals; 
    • (iii) the specific goods and/or services intended to be purchased; 
    • (iv) cost estimates for each good and/or service to be purchased. 
  • (f) Applicants must agree to the Return to Work Plan before they are provided the grant.
  • (g) Within 6 months of receiving the grant, applicants may be asked to provide any evidence Service NSW considers necessary to demonstrate they used the grant in accordance with the Return to Work Plan. 
  • (h) As applicable, Service NSW may request applicants to explain: 
    • (i) why the grant has not been fully spent, or 
    • (ii) if the grant was not spent in accordance with the Return to Work Plan, the reason. 
  • (i) Applicants must agree to the terms and conditions, including to return any part of the grant that has not been spent in accordance with the Return to Work Plan. 
  • (j) If information in the application is found to be untrue or misleading, the matter may be referred to law enforcement authorities and penalties may apply.

4.8 Important information

  • (a) These guidelines are correct at the time of publishing. 
  • (b) Either Women NSW or Service NSW may amend, alter, or change these guidelines at any time in their discretion. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure they comply. 
  • (c) The guidelines that apply to each application will be the guidelines that are current at the time the application is assessed by Service NSW.
  • (d) Service NSW may share applicant information with other NSW Government agencies.

For further information, or should you have any questions regarding the Program, please contact Service NSW on 13 77 88.

5. Definitions

Terms or expressions starting with a capital letter have the meaning given in this section. 
ABN has the meaning given in clause 4.5(f)(i). 

BAS has the meaning given in clause 4.5(f)(ii)(A). 

EOI has the meaning given in clause 4.1. 

Program has the meaning given in clause 1.1.

Registered Provider means an authorised carer that is on the NSW Carers Register regulated by the Office of the Children’s Guardian, or an accredited respite care provider.  

Return to Work Coordinator means a Service NSW staff member that will assist applicants with a Return to Work Plan as per clause 2.2. 

Return to Work Plan means a document that sets out the applicant’s intentions and goals for returning to work. This document can be found at Get started on your Return to Work plan.

Last updated: 12 January 2023