How we can work to overcome challenges identified by the disability workers in this 2018 study.

In consultation with the Expert Advisory Panel, Ipsos Public Affairs developed five key recommendations to address the challenges and opportunities raised by the research.

1. Promote innovative service models

A key challenge of the NDIS is providing responsive, flexible care to clients while ensuring the workforce has access to secure, reliable employment and reasonable conditions. It is recommended that State and Commonwealth governments:

  • Share knowledge and develop targeted initiatives to support organisations to balance the need for client flexibility and responsiveness with workforce certainty, connectedness and safety.
  • Share guidelines and case studies of innovative service models across the sector as these emerge.

2. Develop a workforce communications strategy

This research demonstrates that there is lack of communications tailored to the needs of the workforce. A sector wide, integrated communications strategy is needed to ensure the workforce has access to consistent information about professional development, career opportunities and resources and feels valued and consulted throughout the rollout.

This plan should include:

  • Further research to inform strategies to better communicate with the workforce, (to be an objective of focus groups in 2019 that form part of this longitudinal study).
  • Opportunities to listen to and engage with workers, ensuring their expertise working in the disability sector is leveraged in policies and planning.
  • A centralised hub (e.g. website) providing information about the NDIS for workers and linking them to supports and training opportunities.
  • Support tools, champions and mentor programs to share expertise across the workforce and to communicate successful models and achievements under the NDIS.
  • Sharing information about the diversity of roles in the disability sector enabled by the NDIS.
  • Communicating with workers via platforms they already use, such as social media.
  • Focused and tailored communications that prioritise the workers with the greatest need, such as those in rural and regional areas, pre-rollout and in residential settings.
  • Support employers to implement their own communications strategy.

3. Ensure professional development is available and accessible

The quantitative and qualitative research both suggest there is a perceived divestment in professional development and that the NDIS reduces time and funding for training. Given the importance of ongoing professional development in ensuring a skilled and happy workforce, it is critical that appropriate training is both available and accessible to the workforce. The research indicates a need to:

  • Influence the NDIS pricing model so that it facilitates the expansion, training and ongoing skills development of the disability workforce.
  • Map the training currently available to workers against workforce training and development needs to identify and respond to gaps.

4. Develop a sector-wide retention strategy

The perceived lack of career progression opportunities among workers identified by this research presents a key challenge to retaining quality workers in the disability sector. Consultation with the EAP suggests that while careers events such as expos occur, these typically focus on recruitment rather than retention.

This research demonstrates a need for a sector-wide retention strategy that celebrates and supports workers, and communicates the opportunities available through:

  • The development of mechanisms to celebrate and value the achievements of the existing workforce.
  • Documentation and communication of the diverse opportunities available in the sector and different career pathways, potentially demonstrated through worker case studies.
  • Providing career counselling or mentoring to existing workers.

5. Develop partnerships in retention and recruitment

Workers’ experiences of the NDIS and their work in general is largely dictated by their employer. As such, there is a need to support and encourage organisations to become employers of choice so they are able to retain existing workers and recruit new workers to meet demand. These partnerships should focus on enabling organisations to:

  • Manage change for their workforce through the NDIS transition, providing clear and open communication.
  • Provide supervision and support to all workers.
  • Direct their workers to useful information, supports and professional development opportunities.
  • Commit to training and developing their workers.
  • Develop their own retention strategies, drawing on the principles above.

Authorised and published by the Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, 3002 and by Ipsos Public Affairs, 14/168 Walker St, North Sydney NSW 2060 © State of Victoria 2018