In Australia, working in the disability sector to provide support to National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Participants means you’ll become a Disability Support Worker, helping people with disabilities to become more independent and get their care needs met.
Tell Me the Role of a Disability Support Worker
The Disability Support Worker role is the frontline role in the disability support industry.
When you work with people with disability needs, you assist clients and support people with their intellectual development and physical limitations.
How Do You Work with Disabled People?
Disability care improves a person’s life as you provide personal care, health care, help with household tasks, and social activities to people with disabilities.
What Makes a Good Disability Support Worker?
The traits that make someone good at disability support work are less about formal qualifications and more about the “soft” skills as shown in the infographic pictured.
The right attitude is one of the key components of being effective at disability work. Skills such as being able to offer specialist support in specialised care settings are important, but the right attitude is the biggest factor in determining if you’ll be great in the role.
When you work as a disability worker, the lines between your personal and work life can blur. Critical but often overlooked skills are the ability to maintain a good work/life balance and set emotional boundaries.
Why Do This Work?
If you want to make a real difference in the lives of people with disability needs, then this could be the perfect career for you.
Some NDIS participants need such a high level of support that they’re eligible for Supported Independent Living.
What’s the Job Outlook for Disability Support Workers?
According to the NDIS National Workforce Plan: 2021–2025, another 83,000 Disability Support Workers will be needed by 2024 (Department of Social Services, 2022, p. 4).
This is due to two factors: increased demand because of the number of people with disability needs and a high rate of churn amongst Disability Support Workers.
How Much Do Disability Workers Get Paid in Australia?
The average hourly salary is $33.39 (“Disability Support Worker Salary in Victoria,” n.d.).
The Difference Between Disability Support Workers and Enrolled Nurses & Registered Nurses
Nurses provide services to people with specific medical needs. Nurses need to have completed medical training, whereas Disability Support Workers do not undergo formal qualifications. But Workers need to pass trustworthiness checks and complete training to show they understand what’s involved in working with people with a disability.
Tell Me the Certification Required to Become a Disability Support Worker
You need to complete two educational modules to work as a Disability Support Worker:
Apart from these two requirements, you mostly learn how to be a disability worker through informal training, such as that provided through an NDIS Provider like the SALT Foundation. Employers make sure that anyone who will offer support to people has the training they need to do their job.
You can complete the following qualifications to be better equipped to assist people:
Certificate IV in Disability
The purpose of Certificate IV in Disability is to equip workers to support and train people with disabilities.
Get this certification and you’ll do a better job of helping participants become more independent and self-reliant in community and disability accommodation settings.
Certificate III in Individual Support
This Certificate III in Individual Support is like the previously discussed Certificate IV in Disability but focuses on disability workers who work from an Individualised Plan in the support they provide.
What is an “Individualised Plan?”
An Individualised Plan is a personalised plan that outlines how the NDIS will help the participant achieve their goals. The NDIS tailors the plan for each person to meet their specific needs.
Why a Career in Disability Support?
A career as a Disability Support Worker is at once rewarding and challenging. It’s rewarding because you get to empower people with a genuine need to do things they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.
It’s challenging because some disabilities require patience to handle.
Also, the working conditions can be tough as you do a job aimed at giving people their independence.
What’s it Like to be a Disability Support Worker?
Working as a Disability Support Worker can be one of the most fulfilling things you do.
No matter who you are, you’ll find the role stressful. Stress is simply your psychological and physiological response to change (Waitley, 2020).
If caring for these kinds of clients isn’t one of your highest values, then you’ll experience a lot of distress in the role. Distress is simply what most people mean when they use the word “stress.”
But if you’re genuinely interested in improving daily activities for people with disabilities, then you’ll experience eustress, the positive stress that comes from pursuing a challenge you love.
Tasks and Duties as a Disability Support Worker
As a Worker, your daily tasks and duties in each shift will cover a range of things.
For an NDIS Provider like the SALT Foundation, most of your work would involve taking the participant into the community and to other social activities.
Disability Support Workers Provide Emotional Support
Because of the personal nature of the work, it’s more than a job. You’ll provide companionship and maybe even work with the family of your participant.
You may become friends. They may come to depend on you.
What to Expect When Working with Disability Support Workers
An NDIS Provider like the SALT Foundation matches workers with participants. This matching process goes beyond checking on a worker’s availability and geographic location.
More important than these factors is that the participant and worker are a good fit, that they have shared values and an outlook on life, and they can have a laugh together.
Make sure you think about what you can bring to the job that’s beyond the basic training. How will you make yourself stand out so that participants will choose you over all the other Support Workers available to them?
Working with NDIS Participants: Conclusion
To sum up, choosing a career as a Support Worker can be one of the most fulfilling decisions you make.
You get to come to work each day and make a tangible, measurable, visible difference in improving the lives of someone who is in need and wouldn’t be able to live as fully without your help.
Altmann, G. Inclusion group wheelchair. [Illustration.] Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/inclusion-group-wheelchair-2731339/
Department of Social Services. (2022). NDIS national workforce plan: 2021–2025. https://www.dss.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/06_2021/ndis-national-workforce-plan-2021-2025.pdf
Disability support worker salary in Victoria. (n.d.). https://au.indeed.com/career/disability-support-worker/salaries/Victoria
Fabregas, H. Integration special needs. [Illustration]. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/illustrations/integration-special-needs-diversity-5192458/
Pbxy666. Wheelchair care disabled. [Photograph]. Pixabay. https://pixabay.com/photos/wheelchair-care-disabled-people-908343/
Waitley, D. (2020). Psychology of success: Maximizing fulfillment in your career and life (7th ed.). McGraw-Hill Education.
Daniel G. Taylor is a mental health speaker. Daniel teaches people affected by mental health personal development principles so they can reach their goals and achieve their potential. He lives with bipolar disorder and has developed a lot of tools and strategies for staying well long term. He’s the author of “Staying Sane: How to Master Bipolar Disorder for Life” and a contributor to “Mastering Bipolar Disorder: An Insider’s Guide to Managing Mood Swings and Finding Balance” edited by Kerrie Eyers & Gordon Parker (Allen & Unwin, 2010).