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DSS Presentation on Disability Enterprises transitioning to the Supported Wage System

DSS have provided a resource for Disability Enterprises setting out how to use the Supported Wage System.

Member webinar: Budget Briefing with Laurie Leigh

Resource Summary: NDS Chief Executive Officer Laurie Leigh gives expert analysis on what this year’s Federal Budget holds for the disability sector.

NDS Member Exclusive DRC Webinar: Inclusive Governance

This webinar is on Inclusive Governance, hosted with the Council for Intellectual Disability. Inclusive Governance addresses the concern that organisations do not have sufficient people of disability on...

Disability Sector Workforce Retention

A senior person holds onto a walking aid, while the hand of a younger person places their own hand over the top of it.

Key benefits

  • Increased knowledge of the key determinants that influence whether workers stay in or leave jobs in the disability sector
  • Increased knowledge of effective retention practices and strategies
  • Increased engagement and knowledge-sharing across the disability service sector of what works
  • Increased quality of workforce management leading to increased retention of disability workers

On this page

Who is this for?

HR Managers, People and Culture Leads, Senior Managers and CEOs in Disability Services, and Leaders in Registered Training Organisations.

About these resources

Workers are drawn to the disability sector for many reasons. Roles in the disability sector are promoted as opportunities within which workers can make a difference and undertake meaningful work that, whilst challenging, offers variety, job security and opportunities for career progression.

However, although these are commonly features of the work, we know that retaining staff is a big challenge for many disability service providers.

In 2021, the Government estimated that 213,000 workers will be required to replace people that leave the sector over the five years to 2025. The 2021 National Disability Services State of the Sector Report highlighted that some of the key drivers that lead to staff turnover include a lack of permanent positions, availability of better working conditions in other sectors, and staff burnout. In this sense, we are aware that there is a gap in visibility regarding career pathways for frontline staff and that current NDIS settings pose additional challenges for adequate supervision.

Retaining workers is more cost-effective and better for participants and providers than hiring new workers as it provides continuity of service and reduces onboarding and training costs. NDS has observed that some providers are retaining sufficient workers and have others seeking to join their organisations even in tight labour markets. This points to the potential for providers wanting to learn and improve retention. Phase 1 of the NDS Workforce Retention Project found that there are four key areas that affect workforce retention in the disability sector, namely:

  • Organisational culture
  • Supervision
  • Workload
  • Job security and opportunities for career progression

In line with this, we have included below useful resources for disability service providers that address the key areas highlighted above.

For more information, check our Understanding key factors that impact Disability Support Worker Retention research paper.

Organisational culture

Organisational culture is defined as the combination of values, expectations, and practices that an organisation has in place to guide and inform the actions of workers. When there is a lack of clarity or misalignment with values, expectations, and practices, this increases worker stress and potential for abandonment of employment. The following resources touch on important aspects to consider in these key areas.


Supervision is an essential element to support for worker wellbeing and retention. Whilst recognising existing challenges, providing regular constructive feedback gives workers clarity about their role and acknowledgement that their work is being valued; key elements that are positively correlated with worker retention. The following resources touch on important aspects to consider around supervision:

Induction and mentoring:

Good supervision:

Performance Management:


Research in associated industries has found that a sense of ‘making a difference’ in conjunction with having variety and job autonomy were positive influences on managing workload.

Conversely, stress at an organisational level and in the external environment, cumbersome administrative requirements, and unsupportive colleagues were identified as negative influences on workload management. The following resources touch on important aspects to consider regarding workload:

Good rostering:

Managing stress:

In the case study above, Angela Schepis from Better Health Network talks about how their wellbeing program ‘Mornings with Purpose’ reduced staff absenteeism, improved client satisfaction and, ultimately, made a significant difference in staff-client relationships.

Watch the video to learn more about their program and feel free to use the resource below to apply this approach at your organisation. If you’d like to get in touch with Angela, we are happy to make the relevant introductions. Please contact us submit enquiry/feedback


Job security and opportunities for career progression

Whilst there is widespread workforce shortages and a need to recruit new workers to the sector, many early entrants into the sector, particularly those employed on casual contracts, perceive their employment to be tenuous.

A survey by HESTA found the top three reasons community sector workers left the industry were that there were not enough opportunities for career progression, low rates of pay, and dissatisfaction with the employing organisation. The lack of visible career paths has also been identified by other sources.

Therefore, finding ways to build and communicate clear career pathways to workers is key to increase worker retention. The following resources touch on important aspects regarding these areas:

How to build internal pathways for staff:

For employees - Different roles available within the sector:

Professional development and career progression:

These resources can be used to support workers interested in a career in the disability sector:

Related Resources

Contact information

For any enquiries, please contact Lourdes Zamanillo, Senior Policy and Project Officer, submit enquiry/feedback, show phone number