Got a natural desire to help others? Meet new people? Make a positive impact?
The disability support industry is an often popular choice for those seeking both a fulfilling and stable career path – providing its workers with constant challenges, inspiration, and boundless opportunities for profound change.
According to the Australian Network on Disability, about 1 in 5 people (4.4 million Australians) have some form of disability, with 2 in 5 being of 65 years or older. The sector thus faces a high skills demand, with an extra 90,000 employees required nationwide as industry spending reaches $22 billion by 2022.
Below, we outline the top reasons to pursue a career in disability support, and the steps to take in doing so.
5 reasons to work in disability support
Aspiring disability support workers not only have the advantage of financial security and job stability, but also the opportunity of working in a flexible, dynamic sector that offers much to learn about people and their welfare.
You’ll change others’ lives for the better
The ability to make a positive impact on others is one of the greatest attractors to the disability support industry. You’ll get a chance to support, motivate, and inspire people– paving the way for a meaningful, fulfilling career path.
It’s an ideal fit for those seeking to “give back” to their community and help people directly. Additionally, if you thrive in the company of others and love social interaction, the sector is focused on such skills; making it all the more rewarding for those of naturally extroverted, caregiving personalities.
No two days are the same
As you’ll be working closely with others, each day is bound to be different from the next. While your job will primarily be focused on giving clients their daily physical, emotional, and personal support; this is often comprised of a wide variety of tasks. Such responsibilities could include developing new support programs; arranging outings or social activities; helping clients maintain contact with family and friends; assisting them with personal care and hygiene; and carrying out general “household” tasks (i.e. cleaning, cooking, shopping).
It’s therefore difficult to feel “bored” or stagnant in this field, as you’ll often be up on your feet, helping others make the most of the day they have ahead.
You’ll constantly challenge and build your skills
With the wide range of tasks assigned to disability support workers, they’re constantly learning new skills and improving on existing ones. The sector is a primarily hands-on environment where workers are actively engaged in social interaction, administrative activities, and personal management; helping them continuously build on their communicative, organisational, and leadership abilities.
The dynamic workplace this sector provides constantly puts forth new opportunities for both personal and professional growth. In such a people-centric industry, you’ll regularly be challenged by those around you (whether it be colleagues or clients) to develop or maintain your skillset. You’ll also likely gain more valuable insight into human behaviour and relationships – life skills valuable for any field, job, or personal venture.
The hours can be flexible
We all want to maintain a proper work-life balance, and fortunately – a career in disability support services can provide just that. Plenty of jobs in the sector are offered with flexible or part-time hours available, helping professionals work on a schedule that suits them best.
Alternatively, you can also pursue support work as a casual employee, with the ability to choose who you work with and the type of work you’ll be assigned. Platforms such as HireUp (who have currently made 57,000+ successful support connections) make it easy for workers to pursue disability support work on a casual basis. They take care of your tax, payroll, and superannuation; leaving you focused on the skills and experience you have to offer.
There’s plenty of job security
Finally, the disability support industry comes with plenty of financial and employment security.
As mentioned, the sector currently faces an alarming labour shortage paired with increasing growth in NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) participants, soon to reach over 500,000. According to the State of the Disability Sector Report 2020, its current workforce will have to grow twice its current size to keep pace with the growing demand for skills. New field entrants will thus find a lot of work to go around, and with the critical need for their skillset, they’re also bound to have plenty of career stability in the years to come.
How to become a disability support worker
Step 1: Study an Individual Support course
While a formal degree isn’t mandatory to finding employment in disability support, having a qualification can help you stand out in the job market. Studying an individual support course is often recommended as it explores the fundamental skills and concepts of disability support, including safe work practices, supporting social inclusion, and the ability to empower those with disability.
Step 2: Get an NDIS Worker Screening Check
Those who apply for roles under the NDIS are obliged to undergo their risk assessment process – also known as their Worker Screening Check. This ensures your suitability in working closely with those with a disability, and can be applied for through your state or territory government screening unit. If necessary, you may also need a police check for your state, a Working With Children Check, and a First Aid Certificate.
Step 3: Volunteer in Disability Support services
To put your newfound skills to practice (and buff up your resume with further experience), it’s recommended to pursue volunteering opportunities or internships in disability support. Plenty of roles can be found on popular job sites such as SEEK and Indeed, as well as volunteer-focused platforms such as GoVolunteer and Multitask.
How to find a job in disability support
To find work as a disability support worker, you can explore job sites like Ethical Jobs, Indeed or SEEK. It also helps to build your network both online and offline so you can develop professional relationships that can lead to expanding your career opportunities. You also have the option of either working in the public, private or non-for-profit sectors.
Disability support worker job description
As a disability support worker, you’ll be juggling a variety of social and administrative tasks. These can range from planning daily events and activities to assisting clients with their personal hygiene, meals, and medication. Those who fare best in such roles are typically skilled in interpersonal communication; have a sound understanding of various human behaviours, personalities, and interests; and have exceptional organisational and multi-tasking abilities.
Professionals can also choose from multiple specialties, including roles such as a behavioural support officer, personal carer, special needs teacher’s aide, and home care worker.
Disability support worker salary
According to Job Outlook, full-time workers in aged and disabled care generally earn an average of $1,265 per week, with the ability to earn more as experience grows.
Looking to get your start in disability support?
As mentioned, the first step to a fulfilling career in the disability services sector is acquiring the right skills training. Those new to the industry can learn the fundamentals through an individual support course, such as the CHC33015 - Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) provided by Upskilled.
Students will develop both the knowledge and practical skills required to support and empower those with a disability – including proper communication practices, knowledge of healthy body systems, and safe work practices for direct client care.
Best of all, the program is delivered online, helping you tailor your training around personal needs and schedule.
Join a growing, in-demand industry of rewarding opportunity, and enquire with us on a course today.