The methodology and questions used in this research were designed in collaboration with experts from the sector: disability workers, service providers, the Health and Community Services Union, peak bodies, and government. Together, it was agreed that a survey was needed to measure the impact of the NDIS on the workforce over time, followed by qualitative research to understand the experiences of workers in greater depth.
A wide range of engagement strategies were used to encourage a diverse representation of disability workers. Workers registered for the study and completed an online survey via an email invitation. The survey included a range of closed and open-ended questions and gave workers the opportunity to register their interest to participate in further qualitative research. The question sets for the focus groups and in-depth interviews were more open-ended in nature, allowing workers to describe their experience in their own words.
In 2020, 752 workers participated in the survey, 334 of whom had participated in 2019 and 2018 and therefore were treated as longitudinal participants. The remaining 418 survey respondents had only participated in 2020 and were therefore deemed as new participants.
Throughout this report, findings from the survey are presented as statistics, and findings from focus groups and in-depth interviews are presented as summaries of workers’ words, and in direct quotes from workers. Qualitative research participant quotes have been included throughout the report to provide supporting data to the research findings. These quotes remain in their original form and have not been edited by the researchers, except where indicated using an ellipsis or square parentheses.
In addition to the survey, 74 workers also participated in the qualitative research in either; one of eight focus groups (n=31) or an individual in-depth interview (n=43) held online between 9 November to 4 December 2020.
A qualitative approach allows researchers to focus on the issues of most importance to research participants and probe in detail their views and experiences. Qualitative research provides an insight into the range of attitudes, behaviours and experiences that exist around a topic but does not tell researchers how common these findings are in the population as a whole.