Are you a persevering, optimistic and sympathetic person who is devoted to ensuring a high quality of life for disabled people?
Then becoming a support worker/ disability support worker profession could be the perfect option for you.
Support workers provide care and support to vulnerable individuals and families in different ways and settings. They offer practical support by carrying out an array of domestic and personal care tasks.
There are no mandatory qualifications needed to become a disability support worker in Australia. However, completing a vocational qualification in Certificate III in Individual Support and Certificate IV in Disability will improve your job chances for this role. A First Aid certification, a national police check, and an unrestricted drivers’ license are required to work as a support worker in Australia.
If you are passionate about improving the well-being of people and want to know how to become a support worker in Australia, then keep reading this article.
You will learn about the duties, personal requirements, and qualifications for the role and steps to pursue this incredibly rewarding career in Australia.
1. What Is A Support Worker In Australia?
Support workers provide physical, emotional, and social assistance to old, injured, physically challenged, or unhealthy individuals who lack physical or emotional capacity and look for external support to perform their daily tasks on their own.
Support workers take complete care of their hygiene, paperwork, medication, errands, socialization, transport, nourishment, and housekeeping activities to improve their well-being and quality of life.
Disability Support Workers provide personalized care, physical assistance, emotional support, and supervision for individuals and families who suffer from intellectual and/or physical debilities.
These workers focus on reducing physical discomfort and promoting general health, emotional wellbeing, comfort, social enrichment, independence, improved mobility, and social connectedness.
The common workplaces of disability support workers include clients’ homes and residential facilities, clinics, hospitals, specialized care settings, and other types of care environments.
Here are a few national Resources for disability support workers:
2. What Is A NDIS Support Worker?
The NDIS stands for National Disability Insurance Scheme.
As per the NDIS Commission, an NDIS carer is engaged to help disabled people by caring for them, overseeing them, and supporting them inside and outside of their homes to meet their operational and emotional needs.
These workers can work as volunteers, self-employed, contractors, employees, consultants on a free or chargeable basis.
National resources for NDIS are as follows:
3. Reasons To Become A Support Worker
Do you look for a career where there is no formal education needed, has a good earning potential, job stability, and flexible work hours? then a career as a support worker could be the perfect job for you.
The stable demand for individualized care and support for disabled people translates to steady career opportunities for skilled support workers in the future.
Varied and Interesting job
A typical day of a disability support worker is filled with varied types of activities including building meaningful relationships, sharing companionship, completing daily chores, listening to their stories, aiding with physical therapy, shopping, socializing, communicating with their family, and more.
A support worker also gets to accompany their client to beach trips, community festivals, and other socializing activities. All this makes the job interesting.
A support worker takes complete responsibility for the health and safety of their clients in their living environment.
The job may not be easy but is sure to bring out the best within you. While working as a support worker, you learn to become flexible, optimistic, and adaptable in whatever situation life puts you.
If you are a homely person and love serving people in need, then this profession could give much emotional fulfilment and satisfaction.
The next important benefit of being a disability worker is that you enjoy the flexibility to work either as a full-time employee for a facility/agency, or as a self-employed independent worker. Although it is a full-time profession in most cases, you can also find part-time work.
Excellent Job Outlook
This is another alluring feature to pursue this profession. In addition to job stability, care workers have brilliant opportunities to advance their careers in the disability support and aged care sector.
Considering the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, thousands of disabled people can now access support services and that will lead to a rapid increase in the demand for care workers.
Qualified care workers also have good scope for specialization. Further qualification in a related area opens the doorway to exciting job opportunities such as community case managers, activity officers, respite coordinators, and more.
4. Healthcare Support Worker Roles And Responsibilities
A disability support worker assists people who are old, have an intellectual disability, or a physical disability, and live in a group accommodation or their private homes. Based on the individual needs of the client, a disability worker may have to perform a wide range of tasks such as:
Provide companionship and emotional support.
Help with health care and personal hygiene.
Administering medicines and physical therapy (as needed).
Help clients build confidence and cultivate new interests and hobbies
Shop for groceries and prepare meals.
Work closely with family members, doctors, and therapists to provide the best support.
Ensure that the clients are washed and fed before accompanying clients to walks, appointments, social activities, or outings.
Facilitate transport and movement for clients.
Plan daily itineraries and personalized care programs.
Encourage clients to build personal, social, and community relationships.
5. Required Skills For Support Workers In Australia
A disability support worker develops and upholds the safety, independence, health care, and hygiene of disabled individuals. It can sometimes become physically and emotionally challenging.
To do justice with the role, and perform the duties in the best way possible, a support worker needs to have the following skills:
A genuine interest in helping people with disability
Good communication and listening skills
Good social awareness
Calm and composed
Patience and perseverance
Dedication to helping others live the best lives
to develop and maintain good relationships
Flexible to work in shifts
Supportive and Caring
6. Qualifications To Work As A Disability Support Worker In Australia
Though you don’t need formal qualifications to pursue a job as a disability support worker, however, gaining higher education can strengthen your job application.
Though the Australian state differs based on minimum requirements for an NDIS carer, the general requirements are as follows:
Complete a Certificate III or IV in the related field
If you are presently studying to become a social worker, a nurse, physiotherapist, or any other healthcare profession, then you don’t require completing the above certificates as the skills needed for a support worker job are transferable from your existing study.
A valid Australian Driver’s license
A Working with Children Check (WCC)
A current First-Aid certificate
A National Background Check
7. Steps To Become A Support Worker In Australia
Supporting people with a physical or intellectual disability can be a challenging but rewarding experience.
The best part of this profession is that it doesn’t require any formal qualifications and work experience.
Completing a certification course will boost your resume and enhance your employability. Keep reading to know more about how to become a disability support worker with no experience.
Step 1: Learn about the Industry
The first step to becoming a support worker is to gain a good understanding of the industry and the desirable skills to work in this role.
Step 2: Strengthen your skills
One can work in the care sector without qualifications, but it is beneficial to possess qualifications to prove your competency, to abide by the rules and regulations of the employer (hospital/facility), and to provide high-quality individualistic care to the client.
Certification is a good way to develop confidence, gain practical experience to work in diverse settings, and strengthen your job application over other candidates, thereby, boosting your career prospects.
Certificate IV in Disability
Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability)
Certificate II in Community Services
These are the recommended support worker courses to get your foot in this profession. Most of them are of less than a year duration and offer government assistance, as well as payment plans, that make them easily achievable.
The successful completion of these courses qualifies you to work as a disability support worker, residential care worker, and personal care worker.
Step 3: Apply for a traineeship program
A traineeship program in disability allows you to work and study concurrently for a specified number of hours per week.
Undergoing a traineeship program lets your employer know that you have the necessary experience and capabilities to work in disability and manage challenging situations that may arise while working in this role.
Step 4: Build Your Resume
Take time to understand what skills and personal attributes you should list in the resume that can make you the ideal candidate for the role. Mention related work experience and achievements that could show your competency to take up this role.
It could be VET training or working in a private care centre, or a school taking care of incapacitated people, etc.
Make a cover letter as per the job description and apply for jobs.
Step 5: Meet Industry Requirements
After getting adequate qualifications, and experience, the next step is to learn about state-specific requirements for support workers. The general industry requirement is to have the following:
A working with children check
A working with vulnerable people check
A valid driving license in Australia
Step 6: Find Work
On fulfilling the mandatory industry requirements, you are ready for a professional head start in the care sector.
8. Steps To Become A NDIS Support Worker In Australia
An NDIS worker provides support and services to people living with a disability.
If you want to become an NDIS worker and help others in the community, then here are the steps to follow to pursue this profession:
Step1: Receive nationally-recognized qualifications
To offer domestic assistance, and social support, it is important to get a good understanding of the unique preferences, personalities, and needs of the client.
Undertake the below courses to learn how to provide different types of support that include case note writing, manual handling, nursing services, wheelchair positioning, and assistance with personal hygiene and medication.
Certificate IV in Disability
Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability)
Certificate II in Community Services
Learning about the language of Auslan, dementia care, person-centred active support, mental health support, and possessing hoist and lift certifications are also beneficial to market your support services to a broader segment of clients.
Step 2: Complete necessary industry checks
The next step is to complete the industry checks required to validate your identity and ensure the safety of your clients.
A valid Working with Children Check and Police Check is required if assisting clients below 18 years.
Some employers need clients to provide at least two professional or personal references.
A First aid certificate is required to provide timely medical care to the clients in emergencies.
A valid Australian driving license allows you to transport the client to different places as a part of the job.
NDIS Commission mandates all NDIS workers to complete a Worker Orientation Module as ‘Quality, Safety and You’ to offer improved assistance to people with disability.
The module helps workers understand the role of the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission and their work responsibilities under the Code of Conduct that includes client and worker rights, dignity, and hazard.
9. Support Worker Relevant Certifications In Australia
Certification courses in disability prepare you to take the first step to build a rewarding career in assisting individuals living with a disability.
The courses are delivered in a combination of practical and theory sessions to provide person-centred and individualized support to people having a disability and enable working in a support facility or as a home disability support.
TAFE and private training organizations offer on-campus and online care worker courses to students throughout Australia.
Certificate III in Individual Support
The course is offered by the following Australian universities, training schools, and institutions:
Einstein College of Australia
Certificate IV in Disability
This is an ideal certification course for those who are already working in the disability sector and wish to advance their career.
The course provides specialized training that helps students improvise their skills and increase competency in disability support, thereby enabling them to take up a supervisory role or more specialized role such as senior personal care assistant or disability officer.
Interested students can attend this course at any of the below universities and training institutions in Australia:
Online Support Worker course - Open Universities
Open Colleges conducts online CHC33015 Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability) and CHC43115 Certificate IV in Disability courses to help students make a satisfying career helping the disabled live dignified and fulfilling lives.
10. Work Conditions Of Support Workers In Australia
Type of work
A typical day for support workers in Australia involves providing emotional support, companionship, and physical assistance to their clients.
Nature of Employment
The profession gives them the flexibility to work as full-time staff for a facility, or an agency, or as a self-employed independent worker.
The normal work hours for support workers are 43 hours per week. However, based on the type of assistance the client requires, the duty can also involve overnight shifts and weekend work.
Care workers often work in a wide range of care settings including clients’ homes, a community care sector, a residential facility, a hospital, or a clinic.
11. Employment Opportunities For A Support Worker In Australia
Around 18% of the total Australian population is living with disability as of date.
With the growing number of Australians with a disability condition, the industry needs skilled professionals more than ever.
The relatively low unemployment rate, reliable and stable growth, and scope for growth, makes the care industry a hot sector for the youth. There are projections that thousand more Aussies would pursue jobs requiring “human skills” in the coming years.
Around 88% of Support workers are employed in the Health Care and Social Assistance sector, 6.4% in Public Administration and Safety, and only 2.5% work in Administrative Support Services in Australia.
Care workers can pursue further studies and take on specialized roles within disability services such as:
Community Case Manager
Disability Services Instructor
Disability Team Leader
Home Care Worker
Behavioural Support Officer
Attendant Care Worker
Special Needs Teacher, and a few management roles
12. Job Outlook For Support And Disability Support Workers In Australia
The rapid rise in the 65+ population leads to a substantial demand and expansion of career opportunities for support and disability support workers. Even with the coronavirus pandemic, plenty of Australian families and organizations have sought more carers.
Being an essential workforce, there are plenty of job openings available for NDIS carers to provide care to vulnerable community members in Australia. Population growth, the increasing aging population, and the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme are some factors that will give a real boost to support related occupations shortly.
Based on the job outlook website, by 2023, approx. 245,000 people will be employed within the disabled and aged support industry and the number of disability support, and aged care carers will go up by almost 40%.
13. How Much Does A Support Worker Earn In Australia?
The exact support worker salary is determined based on the qualification, experience, area of work, type of employer/organization, and client’s family.
Based on the last 6 months’ data, the average support worker salary in Australia is in the range of $60k to $80k.
On the other hand, the national annual disability support worker salary falls between $55k and $65k. The average weekly salary for disability support workers is $1265 in Australia.
On average, NDIS support worker salary is $30 an hour. However, experienced, and qualified carers even earn up to $49.20 per hour.
Working as a support worker gives a great opportunity to positively contribute to the lives of people. The satisfaction one gets by empowering and supporting people and helping them live independently is what makes the job worth considering.
So, if you are intrinsically motivated to serve the incapacitated people, then don’t wait, follow the above steps, and fulfil your dream.
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