What is NEIS?

NEIS assists eligible job seekers who are interested in starting and running a small business with training an mentoring.

The program provides training and business set-up mentoring assistance to enable eligible unemployed people to become self supporting and independent by establishing and running their own business.


What does NEIS stand for?

NEIS stands for New Enterprise Incentive Scheme.



NEIS is part of jobactive. It is a program delivered by a network of 21 providers who provide individualised help for job seekers to become self-employed business owners.

A total of 8,600 NEIS places are available each financial year.

If a job seeker is interested in self employment, they can contact their local jobactive or Disability Employment Services provider.

If their provider considers NEIS to be an appropriate activity, they may be referred to a NEIS provider.


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NEIS Training

NEIS training helps job seekers achieve a nationally recognised qualification for up to 13 weeks for either:

  • Certificate III in Micro-Business Operations
  • Certificate IV in Small Business Management

During the training job seekers will develop a NEIS Business Plan which will need to be approved by their NEIS provider.


How long is the NEIS course?

A NEIS course lasts for 13 weeks. The NEIS Allowance runs for 39 weeks and the NEIS Rental Assistance runs for 26 weeks.


NEIS Allowance

Job seekers participating in NEIS will receive allowance for 39 weeks of business operation. The NEIS Allowance is equivalent Newstart Allowance (equivalent to the single, 22 or over, no children rate)

The amount of NEIS Allowance that a job seeker receives will not be affected by income from their NEIS business.

Job seekers can receive income from outside their business (such as from investments or other work) while participating in NEIS. However, NEIS providers will ensure that the NEIS business is their primary, full-time activity. If a job seeker’s external income is greater than twice the basic rate of NEIS Allowance in a given financial quarter, it may affect the amount of their NEIS Allowance.


NEIS Rental Assistance

NEIS participants may also be able to receive Rental Assistance. This is a fixed rate payment for a period of 26 weeks from the date you first receive NEIS Allowance.


NEIS Business Mentoring and Support

Business mentoring and support is an essential component of the NEIS and participants will receive business mentoring during the first year of the operation of their business. NEIS business mentors are people with proven business acumen and experience. They will provide assistance and advice about organisational, financial and marketing issues to help participants to develop their business.


NEIS New Business Assistance

Individuals who are interested in running a new small business may be eligible for New Business Assistance with NEIS.

New Business Assistance can help by providing:

  • Accredited small business training;
  • Personalised mentoring and support from a NEIS provider in the first year of the new business to help the individual put their business idea into practice; and
  • Income support for up to 39 weeks (NEIS Allowance) and NEIS Rental Assistance for up to 26 weeks (if eligible).



NEIS provides:

  • accredited small business training and mentoring for up to 52 weeks
  • income support for up to 39 weeks
  • rental assistance for up to 26 weeks (if eligible)
  • mentoring and support from a NEIS provider in the first year of the new business.


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Who is eligible for NEIS?

A job seeker is eligible for NEIS if they:

  1. are  eligible for jobactive or are a Disability Employment Services participant in the Employment Assistance Phase
  2. are participating in jobactive as a Volunteer and commence in NEIS Assistance before the end of their period of service.

NEIS Job seekers must also:

  1. be at least 18 years of age
  2. be receiving an income support payment such as Newstart Allowance, Parenting Payment, Carer Payment, Disability Support Pension or Youth Allowance (Other)
  3. not convert to the Age Pension before or during participation in NEIS
  4. be available to participate in NEIS training (if relevant) and work full time in the proposed NEIS business
  5. not be an undischarged bankrupt
  6. not have, at any time, received NEIS Assistance for a similar business activity
  7. not have received NEIS Assistance in the previous three years.

Recipients of Disability Support Pension, Carers Payment, Parenting Payment (Single) and some Department of Veterans’ Affairs pensions can choose to remain on these payments while participating in NEIS.

If a job seeker is eligible, their NEIS provider will assess the business idea to make sure it meets the business eligibility criteria. This means the proposed NEIS business:

  • cannot already be operating on a commercial basis
  • will be independent
  • is lawful and capable of withstanding public scrutiny
  • has been assessed as commercially viable by the NEIS provider
  • is not based on the purchase or takeover of an existing business
  • will not compete directly with existing businesses unless it can be demonstrated that there is an unsatisfied demand for the product or service, or the product or service is to be provided in a new way
  • will be established, located and operated solely within Australia
  • will be structured so the job seeker has and will maintain a controlling interest over the NEIS business for the duration of the job seeker’s time in NEIS
  • will not be a not-for-profit business unless otherwise agreed to by the Department of Employment.



NEIS applications open on an ongoing basis.




Upswitch – Michael Hanley

Michael Hanley’s business, Upswitch, creates unique handmade lamps using upcycled materials. Upswitch re-invents old treasures into functional art pieces that inspire and illuminate

With an emphasis on industrial and retro design, Upswitch brings forgotten objects back to life with elegance and charm. Michael uses old science equipment, cameras, salvaged copper or timber and anything in between.

While travelling in 2014 Michael was inspired by artisans he saw at markets who were working with repurposed objects. He stayed with an assemblage artist in a tiny German village, who made beautiful artwork from discarded objects. Michael was thoroughly inspired and realised the potential in all the vintage paraphernalia he had collected over the years.

In 2015, Michael’s friends recommended the NEIS programme to him and he decided to give it a try. ‘I never could have imagined the amount of knowledge, support, and experience it would give me to help get my wild business idea off the ground. Not only have I gained essential business and marketing skills, but I have also been given so many great opportunities through my NEIS provider, mentor and the networks of friends made during the course,’ he said.


More Information


NEIS Program Application

Contact a NEIS provider for assistance with your NEIS program application.



NEIS Program Providers Melbourne