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Victorian Disability and Social Services Regulation Amendment Act 2023

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Disability Workforce Connectors

Three people sit and talk in an office space, smiling
Key benefits
  • Service providers and others can easily find information about the project.
  • Help, information and tools will be accessible including links to other useful resources
  • There will be a repository for project products and learning and somewhere to hold material for links from NDS communications

About this resource

NDS previously ran an innovative and successful Workforce Connectors project, designed to address disability workforce challenges using a place based, connections approach. This was complemented with workforce grant funded projects undertaken by disability providers. The resulting resources and an outline of this successful approach are collated below.

In the NDS State of the Disability Sector Reports in 2017 and 2018, providers cited HR Strategy and Workforce Planning as one of their top three business capabilities most in need of improvement. 

The Victorian Government is funding a $26 million program of strategies outlined in, Keeping our sector strong: Victoria’s Workforce Plan for the NDIS to build the Disability workforce in Victoria. This plan identified the need to support regions as one key strategy.  In line with this, the NDS conducted a Disability Workforce Innovation Project funded by DHHS (DFFH).

Who is this for? 

Service Provider CEOs, HR Managers, Managers, Project Officers. Since the project took a place based, ecology approach to workforce innovation, other audiences included RTOs, local councils, Carer and Consumer Advocacy groups, Job Actives, Disability Employment Services.

Workforce Connectors - A Powerful Model!

This project allowed Regional Workforce Connectors to use their local knowledge and networks to help local organisations and stakeholders to:

  • Identify and capture local workforce issues and contributing factors
  • Identify and work on local solutions
  • Access funding grants with free grant application workshops and follow up coaching
  • Choose and access workforce tools and other resources
  • Increase relevant workforce data using the NDS Workforce Wizard
  • Learn what other organisations are finding useful and not useful
  • Form and facilitate local collaborations to work on local workforce problems
  • Increase Victorian Government knowledge of local disability workforce issues

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The Workforce Connector Model

The Workforce Connectors had a broad range of workforce knowledge, skills and networks that were important to the success of this project.

The Workforce Connector Model formed the basis of the NDS Disability Workforce Innovation Project, run in 2019 - 2020. The model was built on learnings from other projects. Successful regional change projects occur in complex disability ecosystems and require place-based solutions.

At its most basic, the model is about having individuals (Connectors) to create or preferably, consolidate and build on existing, trusting relationships with local people and to operate in a manner that brings about positive place-based solutions.

In this project, four regionally-based Victorian Connectors engaged with multiple and diverse stakeholders. The Connectors were recruited based on their existing local networks and connection to regional areas. To be effective in their roles, they were required to have relevant disability workforce expertise, great relationship skills, exceptional written and verbal communication skills and project management and facilitation expertise. As they worked from home, Connectors also needed to be self-motivated, curious, organised, quick to adapt and practical team players.

The Workforce Connector Model provided the extra energy and focus to bring local disability service providers and other stakeholders together. The Connectors recognised when there was a promising idea with enough support, to foster development on a local solution. The two-way communication role of Connectors also proved very valuable when emergencies arose. They were trusted with frank and specific local information that they could quickly feedback through their networks. Regional stakeholders reported that because of this they felt included and not forgotten during the challenging times of 2020.

The Connectors amplified the regional voice at both national and state wide levels by linking their areas into consultation opportunities and pilot programs.

The combination of Connectors (with the necessary skill set) and management support, ensures the model delivers great value. It is a flexible, organic and adaptive model that can take advantage of opportunities, providing a powerful way to bring about change.

The results speak for themselves:

  • 45 per cent of stakeholders indicated that they did things differently as a result of their engagement with the Workforce Connectors
  • 77 per cent of stakeholders formed new relationships. 98 per cent reported that these were useful including 72 per cent deeming them very or extremely useful

The following statement provided by Manager Workforce Design, NDIS Projects, Department of Health and Human Services December 2020 also gives a further indication of the success of the program.

“Intelligence arising throughout duration of the DWIC [Disability Workforce Innovation Connectors] project was highly regarded and regularly drawn upon and referred to by the Workforce Design team to inform delivery of related projects and initiatives under the Plan and outside of the Plan. This intelligence was also used to inform policy advice and recommendations at interdepartmental and inter-jurisdictional forums, and key policy work such as development of the National NDIS Workforce Plan. Intelligence from the DWICs was critical in informing responses to the most recent Victorian bushfires and COVID-19.”

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Recruitment and retention insights

Learn from a recent case study on a consultation and workshop process aimed at improving partnerships with employment services in regional Victoria.

According to the NDIS Longitudinal Research Study, commissioned by the Department of Premier and Cabinet (Victoria) and conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs, some areas of Victoria will need to almost double their disability workforce to meet the needs of participants.

Despite the care sector being one of the biggest employers in regional Victoria, there are limited connections between local employment services (Jobactives and Disability Employment Services) and disability service providers. Improving these links could contribute to addressing disability workforce shortages.

This recent case study details a consultation and workshop process aimed at improving partnerships with employment services in regional Victoria.

Disability Workforce Success Stories

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Regional Disability Workforce Innovation Showcase Forum

Theme One: Service Delivery Models

MIND Australia

Telephone based services for regional customers: Develop organisational capacity to introduce fee for service telephone-based services.

Presenter and contact: Kelly Bougioukos, 

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

Australian Primary Mental Health Care Alliance Ltd

Regional recovery hub for people with psychosocial disability - Establishment of a mental health recovery hub to provide multidisciplinary team-based care comprising mental health, allied health and general practice services for people with psychosocial disability.

Presenter and contact: Gary Bourke,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

Providing All Living Supports (PALS)

Inclusion team and allied health collaboration project - Create a new approach and operating system for development and delivery of a self-managing team of support workers and improve access to allied health practitioners.


Presenter and contact: Suzanna Vile,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

Pinarc Disability Support

Pinarc tele-supports - Development, implementation and evaluation of a shared tele-therapy service delivery model.

Presenter and contact: Clare Davenport,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

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Theme Two: Workforce Supply

AMES Australia

CALD workforce ready program - Identify and engage CALD community members in Gippsland area to train and work within the disability care sector.

Presenter: Gulsoom Jaghuri
Contact: Teresita Romero,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

Gippsland Aboriginal Advocacy Support Services (GAASS)

Aboriginal employment pathways project - Collaborative approach to development of an Aboriginal specific education, training and skills pathway for Aboriginal people to enter the workforce.

Presenter and contact: Tanisha Bull,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

Mpower Inc.

Use of trained Allied Health Assistants (AHA) to build workforce capacity in rural and regional communities - Pilot program in which two existing staff members (one each for early childhood and disability support) and a post-secondary trainee will have the opportunity to learn skills on the job while being supported to undertake Certificate 3 or 4 in disability.

Presenter and contact: Louise Jellie,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

South West Disability Network (SWDN)

Workforce enhancement strategy
Development of diverse and sustainable training pathways to the disability sector.

Presenter and contact: Janet Collins,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

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Theme Three: Capability

Summer Foundation Limited

UpSkill: Build the capacity of the NDIS workforce in regional Victoria to assist NDIS participants with complex disability support needs - Co-delivery of targeted workshops to UpSkill the NDIS workforce in: cultural competence, working with people with complex needs, NDIS and housing and running a sustainable Support Coordination business.

Presenter and contact: Helen Jeisman,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

Connect GV Consortium (with Family Care, Primary Care Connect and The Bridge Youth Services)

Workforce Connect - Develop a transferable model of practice which promotes workforce sustainability and builds professional capacity.

Presenter and contact: Tamara Clark,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

Gateway Health

Adult Autism Spectrum Disorder – Training and development of a Community of Practice for allied health professionals - Provision of autism spectrum disorder (adult population) specific training for allied health professionals in North East Victoria.

Presenter and contact: Meridith Lane,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word


Positive behaviour support: building best practice capability and capacity amongst local multi-disciplinary health professionals in the Ovens Murray region - Up-skill at least 10 local multi-disciplinary health professionals in positive behaviour support, building workforce capability and capacity.

Presenter and contact: Rod Carracher,

Slides: PDF | Accessible Word

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Contact information

For general enquiries, please contact Sarah Fordyce, State Manager Vic, submit enquiry/feedbackshow phone number