How we can work to overcome challenges identified by the disability workers in this study.

Taking into account that only a year has passed since the baseline recommendations were made and that the research suggests little has changed in this time, the 2018 recommendations will be retained (please see NDIS Workforce Longitudinal Research Study: Year One report).

However, in light of the challenges and opportunities raised in this year’s research, Ipsos Public Affairs, in consultation with the project’s Expert Advisory Panel (EAP), developed the following three additional recommendations:

1. Foster communities of practice

Communities of practice are defined as “people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavour, as well as a tribe learning to survive”, among other definitions.

These communities have three main characteristics:

The domain:

A community of practice is not just a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest.

The community:

In pursuing their interest in their domain, members engage in joint activities and discussions, help each other, and share information. They build relationships that enable them to learn from each other; they care about their standing with each other.

The practice:

A community of practice is not merely a community of interest–people who like certain kinds of movies, for instance. Members of a community of practice are practitioners. They develop a shared repertoire of resources: experiences, stories, tools, ways of addressing recurring problems—in short, a shared practice. This takes time and sustained interaction.2

While communities of practice already exist across the sector, there may be opportunities for peak organisations, workforce members, the NDIA and other disability workforce stakeholders to strengthen, further develop and promote these communities throughout the sector to:

  • Allow for networking and provide a pathway back to collaboration across settings.
  • Provide an opportunity for workers to hear relevant information and stories from credible and experienced speakers with experience working in the industry, peak bodies or advocacy groups, in addition to the NDIA.
  • Provide an opportunity to promote available training and career opportunities.
  • Provide an opportunity for workers to learn from each other in a peer-led context.
  • The project’s EAP suggested that communities of practice could be further mobilised through:
  • Development of online platforms to ensure reach, while also enabling face-to-face interactions.
  • Exploring existing best practice communities of practice, particularly those approaches tested in the NDIS environment.
  • Development and dissemination of frameworks and training – tailored to different settings – to support individuals in the formation of communities of practice.
  • Continue developing support from employers so that the workforce is encouraged to attend.


2 Etienne and Beverley Wenger-Trayner, 2015, ‘Introduction to communities of practice; A brief overview of the concept and its uses’

2. Explore opportunities to support employers and the workforce in understanding and implementing occupational health and safety protections

Throughout the research and consultation with the EAP, it was evident that many workers are feeling more at risk in their work under the NDIS, in terms of occupational health and safety, their ability to cope with stress, the safety of the NDIS participants, as well as around the new requirement and expectations to work across different settings. At a time of increased change and potential risk for the disability workforce, it is imperative that employers are empowered to successfully implement health and empowered to successfully implement health and safety protections within the workplace and the workforce recognise and understand these current health and safety protections. It is recommended that further research is undertaken to:

  • Explore workforce understanding of current health and safety protections both at a workplace and legislative level.
  • Understand how to better communicate and promote current Worksafe and legislative protections so that workers are aware of their rights and the recourse options available to them.
  • Understand what supports employers may need to implement/improve workplace health and safety protections in particular with regards to client presentation.
  • Identify opportunities to support the introduction/uptake of employee wellbeing programs.

3. Implementation of different strategies at different stages of the rollout

The analysis highlighted key points of tension for workers throughout the rollout journey. The research throughout the report indicates that efforts should be made in retaining clarity for workers in the recent to moderate stage of rollout through the provision of a clear vision and information, thereby potentially avoiding the critical point of tension 13 to 18 months post rollout.

It also indicated that a different approach should be utilised for those 19 to 24 months out from rollout who are increasing in positivity and perhaps getting accustomed to the new system. This could be the key time to start introducing any training and retention interventions when both workers and employers are feeling more stable and confident in the NDIS. Given that all areas across Victoria are now in transition, it is recommended that the EAP consider targeted strategies to support workforce development at this critical time.