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A person with disability in a wheelchair smiling next to their support person at a restaurant

Entry to Care Roles is a DEWR-funded program to train and coach job seekers in entry level roles in the disability sector and attract suitable workers.

Key benefits
  • More trained and coached job seekers from diverse backgrounds to entry-to-care roles within the disability sector.
  • Increased confidence and capacity for employment consultants to identify job seekers with the interest, abilities or potential for jobs in the disability sector.
  • Greater promotion of jobs and careers in the sector.
  • Increased knowledge of the challenges and barriers to job seekers getting work in the sector.
  • Stronger collaborations between disability service providers, Workforce Australia staff and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to assist job seekers move into disability service roles.

On this page:

Who is this for?  

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

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Project overview

Entry to Care Roles (ECR) was a Local Jobs Program Recovery Funded project. The Local Jobs Program and Fund are managed by the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR). This project was a partnership with Workforce Australia and operated in Inner Metro Melbourne. It focused on priority groups of job seekers, including young and mature aged, culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) and Indigenous people. Most job seekers who joined ECR had experienced long-term unemployment. The purpose was to identify how disability service providers can work within the existing employment system to effectively attract suitable workers to the sector. The project had two intake rounds, and six main stages:

  1. Initial screening of job seekers by Workforce Australia providers and National Disability Services (NDS) to ensure their suitability for work in the sector. Importantly, Workforce Australia case managers were trained about the needs and opportunities in the sector with help from Boosting the Local Care Workforce (BLCW) team. 
  2. A co-design workshop from NDS to determine details of the program. It included representatives for all stakeholders, job seekers, employers (disability service providers), people living with disability, Workforce Australia, trainers, BLCW and disability support workers. 
  3. An eight-week, two-day-a-week face-to-face training course run by On Call Training College (RTO). This ran for six weeks for the first ECR intake, but extended to eight weeks after participant feedback.   
  4. Participants also received interview preparation training, one-on-one and group mentoring, and support with compliance checks.  
  5. After completion, graduates were matched for interviews with key disability employers (Focus Care, Interact Australia, Just Better Care, and ADEC being the partnered organisations of the project). 
  6. After being successfully onboarded with an employer, graduates were matched with a coach from their new organisation or NDS to support them as they began working in the disability sector. Workplace coaches were trained by Bounce Australia as part of the project in preparation for their role 

There were 16 students in the first intake of which 12 were offered employment, four received their statement of attainment. Four of these students also received considerable extra support to help them become job ready. After a comprehensive mid-project evaluation to determine lessons from the first intake, adjustments were made for the second round. Notably, the training for the second intake was increased from six to eight weeks, allowing more time for the students to assimilate the learning. All 20 students in the second round completed their training, with 12 offered employment. At the end of the program, 21 people were in employment in the disability sector.  

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Key learnings

  • Codesigning the program guided the project and contributed to the positive results for all parties. 
  • Active and sustained collaboration across the employment, disability, RTO and NDS system has impact for job seekers and employers. 
  • Educating employment case managers is vital, so they can identify suitable job seekers and talk to them about the job opportunities and requirements for working in the sector. Workforce Australia providers are most effective when they are disability service provider employment partners. 
  • Volunteering for confidence or matching job seekers to jobs that will best suit them, such as working in group settings rather than one-on-one, or providing services to people from their language community provides a more realistic starting job for some.  
  • Although there is currently no mandatory qualification for disability support workers, there are several requirements for people joining the sector, including NDIS Worker Clearance, driver's licence, and car insurance, that can be a daunting barrier. 
  • Establishing trauma-informed and trusting relationships helped job seekers navigate requirements and sustain belief that they would get a job.  
  • Practical help is needed for job seekers to understand and obtain prerequisite pre-employment compliance checks, including what is required, how to navigate the process and help with costs.  
  • The lived experience voice in training and in values-based recruitment is important​ for providing insights into working as a disability support worker. 
  • Having a coach or mentor is an effective part of supporting new workers, especially where they have not worked in the sector before.  
  • A critical component of worker retention involves stronger and more flexible pathways for entry level support workers and supporting individuals that have not worked in the sector to be upskilled and job ready.  
  • With focused and structured support, long term unemployed people can provide a source of workers for disability providers, helping them find work and providers address their staff shortages. 

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A short video showcasing various stakeholders and job seekers experiences of being involved in the ECR project and what they got out of it.

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Each of these podcasts offers an insight into the experiences and learnings from a Workforce Australia Provider, RTO and Disability Support Provider.

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Related resources

  • The NDS Workforce hub is a pathway to the best disability workforce resources on offer.

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Contact information

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