A breakdown of the opportunities identified by the study in 2018.

Opportunity: Workers are passionate about their work and want to stay in the sector

Despite the challenges faced, the workers we spoke to were very passionate about their work, particularly supporting clients to live happier, richer lives and achieve goals. The work was viewed as very rewarding, often fun, and generally very diverse.

Many participants talked about how fulfilling it can be when they feel they have made a real difference in the lives of people with disability and their families, even if it is just a ‘small thing’. The relationships developed with clients and families, sometimes over a very long period, was also critical.

When asked: ‘Do you see yourself working in the disability sector in five years’ time?’

Q: Do you see yourself working in the disability sector in five years' time?

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Almost half plan to stay, and only 14% plan to leave.

When asked: ‘Generally, how have you been feeling about your work over the last three months?’

Q: Generally, how have you been feeling about your work over the last three months?

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Over half felt positive about their work.

While some did consider leaving the sector, most wanted to stay. For those who did want to leave, lack of career opportunity was the main reason, suggesting that there is a need to ensure progression pathways are provided to workers.

Quotes from workers who participated in focus groups or in-depth interviews demonstrate this opportunity

"If I felt I was needed and wanted then that would be nice. I love this industry. It’s definitely my priority to stay in this industry over leaving."

"You can make people’s lives better by being kind, doing little things, singing the songs, walking, giving [people] time, by not doing much you can make [people] really happy."

"I really enjoy the little things, seeing a young woman becoming more calm, more communicative. Getting a chap in the wheelchair to giggle every so often. Seeing those little lights come on."

"I’d love to get into case management or admin to get off the floor, but I don’t know what those roles look like under the NDIS… I do wish I’d had more exposure to other companies to see what it’s like working elsewhere."

Opportunity: there is an understanding of and support for the NDIS’s mission

Participants in the qualitative research generally had a very good understanding about the purpose of the NDIS in broad terms, that is, that it will increase choice and control for people with disability, enabling them to access reasonable and necessary supports to live a normal life. There was support for the need for such a system, and for the ultimate vision of the NDIS.

Comments from focus groups and in-depth interview participants

"I like to think the purpose is putting people on an even playing field to make their own decisions about their own care and support."

"Absolutely see it as being about people being able to manage their own support and be purposeful and deliberate about the support they are getting and where it is from."

"I just love it… it’s just a social revolution I support. It’s inclusive, it’s empowering to people with disability. I feel so strongly about it."

Opportunity: the NDIS has the potential to increase innovation and provide new opportunities for workers

While many workers were struggling with the changes imposed by the NDIS, some workers did share stories of opportunity. Some were working with more diverse clients or supporting clients in new ways. Others were considering beginning their own business and becoming independent NDIS providers.

The opportunity for more roles to be created within the sector was particularly important for some. Many also hoped that increased funding would mean more staff and a more balanced workload. Having funding for one-on-one support was important and meant workers could be more dedicated to their clients as individuals, rather than within a group.

Quotes from focus group and in-depth interview participants

"There’s potential with the creation for NDIS for more jobs and roles to arise, theoretically lots of possibility for innovation in services and programs offered, that’s exciting, but it’s early days. People are waiting to see how that pans out."

"Personalised, individualised community support. That’s what I want to see, that’s what I’m aiming for. That’s what I’m excited for… a lot of the clients don’t want to be part of a ‘pack’ anymore."

"I’m so pleased that many more people are going to be employed, because hopefully that will level out the workloads of people who are already in the system… instead of being snowed under with 20 clients maybe they’ll be able to give more intimate care, if they’ve got fewer clients."

"I do believe there is a lot of growth and opportunity within this industry. If I wasn’t happy with this job in this organisation I could definitely move to another one. A lot of opportunity and growth, a lot of positive things."

While some workers wanted to take advantage of these new opportunities, they often were unsure how to do this. There was demand for more information and support about starting disability support businesses or working directly for clients.