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How to become a disability support worker in Australia: careers in disability services

Disability support workers assist those who have physical and/or intellectual disabilities by providing them with specialised age in home, hospital and other care environments. They are responsible for a wide range of tasks that focus on improving general health, physical comfort, social enrichment and emotional wellbeing of their clients. They help them with daily chores and activities, transport, feeding and hygiene. Pathways to enter a career in this field are flexible, with vocational and on-the-job experience contributing to qualifications.
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Being a disability support worker: daily duties

Disability support workers provide emotional support, physical assistance and companionship for their clients. Day-to-day tasks will vary depending on the individual needs of their clients and the setting where they are being cared for. But generally, tasks may involve domestic chores, assisting with medication, helping the client with washing and toileting, providing emotional support, communicating with the client’s family and friends, helping with physical therapy and creating care programs.

Tasks:

  • Assisting clients self-administer medication
  • Planning of enrichment activities
  • Facilitating transport and mobility for clients
  • Planning daily itineraries and care programs

Being a disability support worker: skills for success

Because disability support workers are responsible for the health and safety of their clients, the role can be both physically and emotionally demanding. To succeed in this role you need good social awareness, tact, composure and perseverance in the face of challenges. A personable demeanour, and a love for and dedication to the job are also required.
Skills/attributes
  • Good communication and listening skills
  • Ability to maintain positive relationships
  • Patience and understanding
  • Physical fitness

Specialised roles within disability services

Disability support workers can pursue a number of different specialist opportunities. The working environment they are in can vary depending on their personal strengths, interests and employer. Some support workers move on to study nursing later in their careers.
  • Attendant Care Worker
    Providing care for their clients in both domestic and commercial settings, attendant care workers provide personal assistance, help with basic daily tasks like eating, maintenance of personal hygiene, mobility and participating in activities.
  • Home Care Worker
    Home care workers assist clients in their domestic residence, instead of in assisted living facilities or care clinics. In-home care may be necessary for people with physical or intellectual impairments, injuries or old age. Home care workers assist and care for clients and provide respite for their primary carers.
  • Disability Services Instructor
    Disability services instructors assess clients’ individual needs and assist them to devise care programs that meet their requirements. This might involve collaborating with other health care practitioners, family members and the client to determine an appropriate plan.

Educational pathways for disability support workers

While there are no formal requirements necessary to get a job as a disability support worker, experience in a similar field or qualifications in disability work can make you a more appealing candidate.
  • Start your career
    Choose a course that can help you begin your career in the health
  • Strengthen your skills
    Get industry knowledge and skills needed to be a disability support worker.
  • Build your resume
    Gain practical skills and the knowledge to boost your career prospects.
  • Industry requirements
    Some positions require that you have prior experience and qualifications. Other roles may require you to hold a Working with Children check and and a Working With Vulnerable People check.
  • Finding Work
    Put your training to good use and get the best professional head start in your disability services career. Emphasise your personal strengths and achievements in your resume and target your cover letter to the job description listed.
  • Employment Prospects
    There is an extremely high demand for disability support workers in Australia, and growth forecasts for job openings in this industry are predicted to continue to remain strong.

Resources for for disability support workers

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