Disability
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What is disability support work

What do disability support workers do?

A disability support worker supports a person with a disability to reach their goals, engage with the community and meet their support needs.

A disability support worker focuses and supports the individual needs of the person from a community inclusion, independence, decision making and personal choice perspective.

Click here to read an article from The West Australian as Karratha local Luke and his support worker Olean discuss what disability support work means to them.

What does a disability support worker’s job involve?

So much more than a job!

Disability support workers are closely involved in the day-to-day life of the person they support. They provide essential support so people with disability can:

Have their say
  • Support people with disability to know their rights and to make their own decisions
Be active in their community
  • Participate in recreational or sporting clubs
  • Attend sporting and cultural events
  • Access community facilities such as parks, shopping centres, cinemas, restaurants and other services.
Be part of the workforce
  • Find and maintain employment
  • Develop and operate their own small business
Maintain their independence
  • Assistance to maintain their home and tenancy
  • Support people with disability to develop and maintain their independence at home
Stay connected & independent
  • Support people with disability to perform household tasks such as menu planning and cooking
  • Support people with disability with their personal care needs
  • Support people with disability to maintain contact with their family, friends, advocates, and facilitate outings and other social activities.

Is disability support work for you?

Have you thought of working in the disability sector?

The introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is set to transform the disability sector and will create many exciting new career opportunities. The Australian Government predicts that the disability workforce in Western Australia is expected to need an extra 10,000 employees to keep up with the demand for NDIS jobs. (Growing the NDIS Market & Workforce 2019; Australian Government)

Are you the kind of person who has:

  • Great communication skills
  • A genuine interest in people
  • An ability to problem-solve and be flexible
  • An ability to think creatively
  • Empathy to ensure you personally connect with people
  • A positive attitude
  • An ability to work well with others
  • Punctuality and reliability.

Whilst some roles require formal qualifications, you may already have the foundation skills and values to start your career in the disability sector.

To help you decide if disability support work is for you, download the Your Skills overview from NDS.

Download PDF Download DOCX

What skills are employers looking for in their support workers?

Do you have what it takes to fast-track your career in disability support?

Disability employers are looking for passionate and positive people, who work well with others. Employers look for these skills:

  • A positive attitude.
  • Strong values: anyone working in the disability sector needs to be ethical and treat people with respect.
  • An understanding of disability and the disability sector. Do your research. The Care Careers website is a good place to start.
  • The ability to work well with others. The disability sector is all about teamwork and working towards shared outcomes.
  • Are you punctual? As a disability support worker your client relies on you so being on time for work is really important. 
  • Are you reliable? Your employer will create rosters and schedules to create a fair work environment and to ensure the needs of the person you are supporting are met.
  • Good communication skills and the ability to listen. Listening and communication skills are particularly important when you are starting out as a disability support worker, as some aspects of the work may be new to you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek guidance if you are unsure about anything. Communication is key to growing your skills.
  • Attention to detail: this is crucial and will assist you to notice the small things that are important to the person you are supporting.
  • Willingness to learn new skills: the world is changing faster than it ever has before, and we all have to learn to adapt.

Useful terms for new disability support workers

Here are a few common terms and their definitions to help you understand the sector.

Get to know these terms to feel confident to talk about disability support.

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Inclusive Language and Engagement

People with disability are diverse.

Check out some of our top tips for using inclusive language and engaging positively with people with a disability.

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Common questions about disability support

See below for the answers to the most common queries about disability support work.

So what do disability support workers do?

A disability support worker supports a person with a disability to reach their goals, engage with community and meet their personal care needs.

A disability support worker focuses and supports the individual needs of the person from a community inclusion, independence, decision making and personal choice perspective.

What else does a disability support worker do?

On a number of levels, disability support workers are closely involved in the day-to-day life of the person with disability they support. They provide essential support so people with disability can:

Have their say

  • Support people with disability to know their rights and to make their own decisions

Be active in their community

  • Participate in recreational or sporting clubs
  • Attend sporting and cultural events
  • Access community facilities such as parks, shopping centres, cinemas, restaurants and other services.

Be part of the workforce

  • Find and maintain employment
  • Develop and operate their own small business

Maintain their dignity

  • Assistance to maintain their home and tenancy
  • Support people with disability to develop and maintain their independence at home

Stay connected and independent

  • Support people with disability to perform household tasks such as menu planning and cooking
  • Support people with disability with their personal care needs
  • Support people with disability to maintain contact with their family, friends, advocates, and facilitate outings and other social activities.
What about qualifications?

Not all employers require a disability support worker to have formal qualifications, many provide initial training when you start and on the job training thereafter.

Job applicants with a Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) will be highly regarded.

What can you tell me about the job?

Working Hours
Flexible working hours are available which includes weekdays, evenings, overnights and weekends, or a combination of these. Options also include full-time, part-time and casual work.

Pay
Salary rates and levels vary across organisations and depend on the nature and level of work. After-hours and weekend work usually attracts higher penalty rates.

Traineeships
You may be eligible for a traineeship through your employer, which means that you can complete a qualification whilst working and getting paid. Pre-traineeships are also available and are designed to give you experience working as a disability support worker.

What are the benefits of working as a disability support worker?
  • You can travel with you work
  • It is flexible around you
  • It is an opportunity to bring your individuality to work
  • You can work part-time which suits TAFE and University studies
  • There are a lot of career pathways and opportunities in the disability sector
  • There are ongoing training and development opportunities
  • Get job satisfaction, security and stability.
What career pathways will be available to me?

Working in the disability sector opens doors to a range of job options, find out more about the opportunities by downloading the NDS Disability support career pathway map.

Yes, it’s for me. Where to next?

Visit Jobs in WA Disability Services to register your interest in seeking work in the disability sector or contact your local Jobs and Skills Centre.

THE ROLE OF THE DISABILITY WORKER

WHO ARE MY PEOPLE?

Getting involved

Where do I start?

Interested in a career in disability support work? Then you’re in the right place.

The disability sector is one of the fastest-growing industries in Australia. Why not consider a role supporting people with disability. Work in a sector where you can make a difference to the lives of people with disability and the communities in which we live.

Employment checklist

A checklist to consider

The following checklist might be helpful for you to understand the qualifications and requirements of disability support work and can assist you in gaining entry into the disability sector.

  • You are an Australian citizen, a permanent resident or have the right to work in Australia for at least 12 months
  • First Aid Certificate: invaluable and essential for most entry-level roles
  • Driver’s Licence: not all employers will require a driver’s licence but for many disability support workers, it is a necessity
  • Qualifications: not all employers will require qualifications for an entry-level position, but a Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) would be highly regarded
  • Working With Children Check: employers will require you to undergo a Working With Children Check if you are supporting young people with a disability
  • NDIS Worker Screening Check: a NDIS Worker Screening Check will be required for most positions
  • Worker Orientation Module: Quality, Safety and You. This module explains the NDIS Code of Conduct obligations and will assist you to understand how to support people with disability. This is a mandatory requirement for anyone entering the disability sector

Yes, it’s for me.

How do I apply?

Visit Jobs in WA Disability Services to register your interest in seeking work in the disability sector or contact your local Jobs and Skills Centre.

Job application tips and help

To help you in your journey towards employment in the disability sector, check out our useful guide which includes:

  • Tips for writing a good resume
  • Essential things to include in your resume
  • Tips for writing your cover letter
  • A resume checklist
  • Interview techniques

For more information and resources visit Jobs & Skills WA website.

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Entry level training

While a training certification is not essential for employment as a disability support worker, it is highly regarded by many potential employers.

The new Job Ready Program will fast-track your entry into a disability support career, providing you with three weeks of training and a two-week work placement. Read more here.

Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) is the recommended entry-level course for people who are interested in undertaking training for a career in disability support. More information about this course and other training options is available on the Australian Government’s My Skills website.

School-based traineeships

Still at school and interested in a career as a disability support worker?

A school-based traineeship in disability support work is a great way to gain real-world experience while working toward a nationally recognised qualification, all while completing secondary school studies. Watch Stacey’s Story on  School Based Traineeships in Disability Support Work.

SCHOOL BASED TRAINEESHIPS IN DISABILITY SUPPORT

The benefits

A career in disability support work offers a huge range of benefits and opportunities. Find out where a career in disability support can take you.

IS FLEXIBLEAROUND YOU…

IS MORE THANJUST A JOB…

MAKES ADIFFERENCE…

GIVES YOU MORETHAN A SALARY…

MEANS EVERY DAYIS DIFFERENT…

Flexible work that works for you …

A career as a disability support worker could be the most flexible job you ever have.

Shifts can be arranged and rostered around your commitments.

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More than ‘just a job’…

With on-the-job training available you’ll be able to progress your career with clear direction.

You’ll learn from others on a daily basis and develop your own skills.

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Makes a difference…

Supporting people to live their best life, do more of what they enjoy and be active in their community will fill you with all the good feels.

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Gives you more than a salary…

Through the work you do you’ll grow as an individual, both professionally and personally.

A disability support worker hones their people skills on a daily basis – teamwork, communication, respectfulness, empathy and integrity. These skills are highly regarded in both the workplace and outside in our everyday lives.

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Means every day is different…

Just like no two people are the same, no two days are either!

One day you could be supporting someone pay a utility bill and having a cup of coffee, the next you could be taking someone to the movies (it’ll be their choice, though!). A career as a support worker is never dull or boring!

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Resources

Disability Support Work is more than you think
PDF version
Accessible version

What will you do when you leave school
PDF version
Accessible version

Working in the disability sector
PDF version
Print version
Accessible version

Your Future Career
PDF version
Print version
Accessible version

Your Skills
PDF version
Print version
Accessible version

Learn more

NDS Online

National Disability Services is the peak body for
non-government disability services in Australia, representing 1200 non-government disability support service providers.

For more information about NDS and the organisations it works with visit www.nds.org.au.