As a person-centred service industry, workers are key to success. Building positive cultures with capable leadership, with opportunities for learning and career development pave the road to success and quality services for people living with a disability.
On this page, NDS has developed and compiled a wide range of workforce resources that may be of use. The resources are categorised around the following topics:
Over the years, NDS has undertaken several workforce projects to support workforce attraction, development, and retention in the disability sector. We have included a library with some of our latest projects. The pages in this library include the key learnings, outcomes, and deliverables of the projects, which can be used as case studies by anyone interested in workforce initiatives.
Workforce data provides the evidence needed to inform workforce business decisions, necessary to achieve strategic business objectives. It is used to benchmark and inform workforce planning.
The NDS Workforce Census data collection is a unique resource for the disability sector. Workforce Census supports organisations in monitoring the workforce and sector changes making informed decisions about workforce development and planning for the future.
The annual NDS State Of The Disability Sector Report is based on an annual market survey and outlines key issues that affect disability service providers, including workforce challenges.
Jobs and Skills Australia also provides up-to-date labour market data, resources and links to support employers to make informed decisions and the NDIS Data Insights provides current comprehensive information about NDIS participation including data on participant age, location, services accessed
Workforce planning looks at what an organisation needs to accomplish in a given period of time and analyses what knowledge, skills, and experience are required to achieve this. This includes the size, skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience needed. It assists in defining the activities necessary to have ‘the right people with the right skills in the right place at the right time’.
Workforce planning assists business to answer questions such as:
- What are the key workforce segments we need such as Disability Support Workers, Allied Health Assistants and Allied Health professionals?
- What number of supervisors and managers are needed and where?
- What succession risks does the organisation have for key roles and how long does it take to develop people to be ready for those roles if vacated?
- Is support available to manage transition risk as people take on a supervision role for the first time or move into more senior roles?
These considerations build on the supply and demand understandings and should form part of the organisation’s workforce plan and HR strategy.
The Workforce Review Tool (2023), created as part of the Workforce Coordination Project, offers you the opportunity to assess your organisation’s approach to capacity building within workforce planning and development. The aim of the review is to assist you to identify where your priorities and areas of capacity development are in four domains, including strategic planning, operational planning, organisational development and the employee lifecycle.
Workforce Planning in a Nutshell (2016) is a simple handbook on developing and implementing a workforce plan. There is also an accessible version. You can also download the workforce planning templates below:
The Analysing Time Guide describes the different elements that comprise working time and how to estimate them. It is intended to be useful to organisations in support of their budgeting, costing and pricing, rostering, management and supervision and organisational development.
Two spreadsheets are also available for use. One shows a worked example of staff time calculated according to the categories in the Guide, and the other is an example of how working time data can be presented in a simple dashboard that everyone can review and discuss.
Tools featured here focus on recruitment, selection, on-boarding and induction.
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.
Promotion of Disability Support Work
We've developed flyers to encourage job seekers with the right attributes to choose the disability sector as a place to work and have a career. The flyer can be used anywhere jobseekers may be present. The flyer can complement organisational workforce attraction materials.
Carecareers is NDS’ workforce attraction hub, offering career advice and recruitment tools specifically for the disability sector.
A life-changing life is a page built by the Australian Government to raise awareness on careers in the care sector and attract a suitable workforce to the sector. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission also provides a Career Options Guide to help workers explore opportunities in the sector.
In Tasmania, the Work with Purpose initiative aims to attract people to work in aged care, disability, education and care, and social services, by highlighting the purpose-led, meaningful work that these sectors have to offer. The initiative features and honours the work that is done by over 30,000 workers and 75,000 volunteers across Tasmania in the community services industry. Each story features Tasmanians who share their own career journeys and the meaning of their work both personally and professionally.
And in Queensland, the Community Services Gateway to Industry Schools Project aims to provide schools the resources to inform students about the range of careers and pathways in the Community Services sector.
Creating an employee value proposition
An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a unique collection of benefits, supports and perks that you offer your workers. When done well, your EVP helps you attract the right people to the right roles because your EVP answers the burning question “why work with us?”
Find out more about EVPs and why they're important on our Why have an EVP? webpage.
Creating job descriptions
Creating job definitions are not something that’s often thought of as a candidate attraction method, but the way you define a job has a massive impact on how candidates will respond to a job ad. Watch the video by SACS Consulting to understand the importance of creating clear job descriptions, using outcome-based criteria, and how this will help you attract the most suitable candidates for the job.
In the learning kit, SACS has set out some of the Real World Outcomes and some core competencies that may relate to the position of direct support worker, as an example to make the concept more practical for you. We have also provided a link to a brief explainer video about the process. They have also provided a proforma template which you can use to undertake interviews to build outcome-based job definitions.
The Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 is the main industry award covering the disability sector. In 2010 clauses were added to the classifications to make it clear how disability roles fitted into the SACS (Social and Community Services) Schedule of the award.
Details about the SCHADS Modern Award are available through the Fair Work Commission (FWC) website. As awards are subject to change it is recommended that organisations refer to the most up-to-date online version of the award and register for update notifications.
Finding Care Workers
Find higher quality, more experienced and more passionate care workers by advertising on EthicalJobs.com.au — Australia's top job-search site for the not-for-profit sector and beyond. Call (03) 9419 5979 for details and to access a special NDS discount, or advertise a job now.
Many NDIS Providers value candidate recommendations from their existing workforce. Read a brief overview of Employee Referral bonus schemes.
The Values Based Recruitment Toolkit provides a range of useful recruitment tools, ranging from interview guides to assessment centre exercises and information about psychological testing.
The NDIS Workforce Capablity Framework.The NDIS Workforce Capability Framework describes the attitudes, skills and knowledge expected of all workers funded under the NDIS. It gives clear, practical examples and establishes a shared language of ‘what good looks like’ for participants when they receive NDIS supports and services.
Registered NDIS providers must ensure that key personnel and other workers in certain types of roles have a worker screening clearance that meets the requirements of the NDIS Practice Standards. This helps ensure that key personnel and workers in these roles do not pose an unacceptable risk to the safety and wellbeing of NDIS participants.
The NDIS Worker Screening Check is an assessment of whether a person who works, or seeks to work, with people with disability poses a risk to them. The assessment determines whether a person is cleared or excluded from working in certain roles with people with disability.
The NDIS Worker Screening Check is conducted by the Worker Screening Unit in the state or territory where a person applies for it. The Worker Screening Unit also decides whether a person is cleared or excluded. Registered NDIS providers are required to ensure that they only engage workers who have been cleared in certain roles, called risk assessed roles. Find out more about the NDIS Worker Screening Check. The website also outlines NDIS requirements and provides links to each state and territory registration portal.
Assessing workplace literacy and numeracy
The Workplace Literacy Activity Toolkit enables an employer to gather information about potential and current employees’ literacy and numeracy skills.
It can help employers to see if people’s skills:
- match the requirements of the position, or
- require more development in the workplace, or
- are not adequate for the position
Australia’s disability workforce is constantly changing to prepare for and respond to our sector’s future needs and goals. Due to the current workforce shortages that the sector is facing, disability service employers are increasingly needing to diversify their workforce and take advantage of untapped markets. In this sense, having a multicultural staff ensures the right people are in the right positions to support clients as best as possible. However, multiculturalism in staff relationships involves planning.
This practical workbook, ‘Building a Diverse Workplace’ (2016), is a comprehensive resource to help organisations recruit and retain a culturally diverse workforce.
In addition to multicultural populations, people with disability bring a range of skills, talents, and abilities to the workplace. So how can you employ more individuals with a lived experience of disability in your workforce? Learn more about employing people with a disability: diversifying the workforce for retention.
And if you’re interested in supporting First Nations employment, the NDS guide and toolkit assists organisations with a mix of information and tools to effectively recruit and retain Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
If you need a tool to showcase what working in the disability sector is like to prospective workers, ThinkSupport (Western Australia) is a great tool targeted at men and First Nations peoples.
Induction is the formal and informal process by which a person becomes familiar with, and able to participate effectively in, their new work environment. Effective induction is necessary for engaged and productive working relationships, service user outcomes, and employee wellbeing.
Induction involves ensuring all new employees have what they need to do their job competently, safely and effectively, and to know what is expected from them in the workplace. Induction involves setting the scene for a positive ongoing working relationship with the organisation, colleagues and service users.
There are various legal induction requirements. These may vary between states. They include Work Health and Safety (WHS), workplace relations, disability service provision, key organisational policies and procedures, and any required core training. Employers need to understand their legal responsibility in these areas.
An effective induction may therefore include individual ‘on-the-job’ instruction, relevant checklists and supervisor or manager sign-off for site or job specific information, as well as participation in required group induction or training experiences, such as assisting with medications. Induction can also involve shaping and supporting:
- Employee alignment with organisational strategy
- Positive culture development
- Employee engagement
- Employee wellbeing
This kind of induction might take the form of a ‘centralised’ induction day, which is sometimes called an orientation day. It involves all new, and sometimes longer-term, employees, and can include:
- Introductions by senior managers
- An overview of key policies and procedures
- An explanation of the organisation’s history
- Discussion of culture and values
- Contributions from people with lived experience, supporters, carers and other key stakeholders
- An experience of the service being provided or field trip to other sites
Once new workers are employed, or during the recruitment process, you can access this industry-endorsed e-learning program that prepares people to work in today's disability sector. Completing the 5 modules takes on average between four to five hours.
Learn and Develop also has a comprehensive sector induction and compliance suite of resources that might be useful for workers starting out in the disability sector.
Tools featured here focus on workplace culture, retention, and management.
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.
How can we build better organisations and teams on purpose and with purpose for now and the future? NDS Purpose at Work video series Creating an Enabling Work Environment focuses on how organisations can create a work environment that enables employees to do their best work by giving an overview of the key aspects that create the conditions for organisations and teams to thrive.
Employees are key to organisational performance and quality services. Fostering employee wellbeing contributes to performance and retention. Wellbeing is a shared responsibility between employers and employees. Successful organisations find ways to value and support their employees.
The best results for organisations, employees and participants come from teams and individuals that are set up for success. This involves understanding and appreciating employees’ strengths and providing coaching and development support to develop new skills and knowledge. Structuring work and responsibilities to engage employees and encourage them to find the best ways to deliver quality service is an important strategy being used by many organisations in the disability sector.
In this webinar series, Helen Sanderson uses practical examples to demonstrate the key components of wellbeing teams and how they can benefit staff and organisations.
In a person-centred organisation, supervision and performance appraisal are inextricably linked, so they are treated as an ongoing series of activities. The NDS Supervision and Performance Appraisal resource (2017) talks more about what is person-centred supervision and performance appraisal and how to implement it, and the NDS Person-Centred Performance Management resource (2017) talks more about person-centred performance management.
CareCareers and the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission also have valuable resources on how to implement effective supervision in the disability sector. CareCareers also has useful performance management and person-centred people management resources.
Resources featured here focus on building the capacity of the disability workforce.
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.
Your employees' first year in the disability sector (2023) is a tool to for supervisors to encourage opportunities to discuss future career pathways with employees and how they can be supported. The five conversations framework also offers managers and team leaders a practical performance review and career progression process that identifies and builds upon individuals’ skills and talents.
NDS Training and Development offers the disability sector access to quality, flexible and cost effective learning solutions from recognised providers. One of its offerings is the Workforce Essentials e-Learning Library, which aims to meet the benchmarks of providing high-quality, safe supports and services to NDIS participants as outlined by the NDIS Practice Standards. National Disability Practitioners also provides information and resources to develop and support the disability workforce.
It is important to note that all workers of registered NDIS providers should complete the worker orientation e-learning module called ‘Quality, Safety and You’, that covers human rights, respect, risk, and the roles and responsibilities of NDIS workers. The NDIS Commission has also produced eLearning courses covering: Supporting Effective Communication, Supporting Safe and Enjoyable Meals and a New Worker NDIS Induction Module.
Work Safe Victoria also has a tool called Safe Support, which assists support workers, clients, and their families to create and maintain safe, supportive relationships.
These Allied Health Workforce Resources have been developed to assist the sector to meet the challenge of ensuring a sustainable Allied Health Workforce in the context of NDIS.
The Allied Health Practitioners Hub is an open access online gateway to information, resources, and connections to support Allied Health professionals delivering services under the NDIS.
In March 2021, My Allied Health Space was launched. My Allied Health Space provides free tools and training resources to support allied health professionals, as well as people with disability and complex support needs.
NDS, in partnership with Dr Susan Nancarrow from Health Work AHP Workforce, has delivered a set of three workshop series exploring ways to enhance retention of allied health professionals using an employee lifecycle approach.
It is critical that all employees have at least a basic understanding of the human rights-based approach to disability service provision, including how to recognise and respond to abuse and neglect. These form the basis of person-centred service provision and effective safeguarding. Training in this area is strongly recommended for inclusion in organisational induction programs for disability service providers.
Zero Tolerance assists disability service providers to understand, implement and improve practices which safeguard the rights of people they support.
Understanding Abuse includes resources that help workers enable rights and minimise the risk of abuse of people living with a disability.
The Australian Indigenous HealthInfoNet contains health and disability resources and information guides for providers working with First Nations people.
Employees look to leaders to foster a shared organisational vision and clear pathways to achieving it. Organisations’ ability to flourish and respond positively to change rely on skilled leaders from team leader to CEO. Effective leaders understand and champion change management processes. They are reflective and engage in continual learning.
NDS Learn and Develop provides access to a range of training programs, workshops and modules that are designed to support capacity building and ongoing professional development of the disability workforce. Examples include Leadership Development and Managing Change and Communication.
NDS Fundamentals for Boards (2019) provides links to guidance, advice, tools and information to support board members.
The not-for-profits and the NDIS toolkit for Directors (2017) guides Directors on NDIS assurance and compliance matters.
The Managing Change and Communication interactive e-learning module introduces frontline staff and supervisors to concepts and techniques for managing change in their organisation, and communicating with individuals during change.
To support participants, the NDIS Workforce Capability Framework has released a new participant resources page, including Easy Read resources, animation videos and other handy tips and templates. The participant resources include tools for hiring workers, supervising, providing feedback, workforce planning and management, career planning and training opportunities. You can visit the participant resources page.
The pages in this library include the key learnings, outcomes, and deliverables of the workforce projects NDS has recently undertaken, which can be used as case studies by anyone interested in workforce initiatives.
Disability Sector Workforce Retention (Victoria – 2022-2023)
Entry to Care Roles, Local Jobs Program (Victoria – 2022-2023)
Disability Workforce Connectors (Victoria – 2018-2020)
People and Culture (Tasmania – 2017)