The Innovative Workforce Fund was established by the Australian Government to encourage the development and sharing of innovative workforce practices to support rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

$4 million was allocated to innovative workforce related projects in 2017-18 for a competitive national fund that was managed by NDS with expert input from Kim Windsor and Associates.

Round 1 media release ›   ·   Round 2 media release ›

Funds were allocated in two rounds to 30 organisations around Australia. Recipients included disability providers, technology companies, universities and consultants.

Four streams of work were funded by the Government:

  • Stream 1:
    Redesign support worker roles and test new work roles including strategies to improve access to allied health-related supports in areas of thin supply such as shared workforce and allied health assistant models.
  • Stream 2:
    Streamlined administration practices such as human resources, recruitment and retention of staff, including work arrangements that demonstrate more effective workforce utilisation, supervision and support.
  • Stream 3:
    Role of technology in workforce practices.
  • Stream 4:
    Workforce development in rural and remote areas (including Indigenous workers), and strategies to build capacity to attract and develop the workforce in thin markets.

Round 1 funding guidelines ›   ·   Round 2 funding guidelines ›

Independent Advisory Group

A high level reference group was established consisting of the following people:

  • Ken Baker AM, CE National Disability Services (IAG Chair)
  • Ara Cresswell, CEO Carers Australia
  • Dr Rae Cooper Associate Professor | Work and Organisational Studies
    Co-Director Women, Work and Leadership Group
    The University of Sydney Business School
  • John Walsh AM Magoo Actuarial Consulting
    Member of the NDIA Board and recently PWC Partner investigating the Disability Care Scheme
  • Josh Fear, Director, Policy and Projects Mental Health Australia
  • Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald, CEO Scope (Aust) Ltd
  • Ross Joyce, CEO Australian Federation of Disability Organisations
  • Dr Michael Kendrick International disability consultant
  • Kim Windsor, Windsor and Associates, Expert Adviser

Active Program Management

NDS actively managed the IWF using a network of eight coaches. The aim was to help projects to stay focused and reach their goals and provide early signals of any problems.


  • provided the ‘eyes and ears’ of the program
  • supported projects in meeting their reporting responsibilities
  • suggested other relevant initiatives and resources
  • offered assistance when roadblocks were encountered

They assisted projects to complete evaluation and learning strategies and continued regular, light-touch contact to track how each project progressed against its workplan.

Coaches also assist the project management team in identifying emergent themes or lessons to be captured, as described below.

IWF reporting was based on a set of templates structured around three headings:

  • service user satisfaction and empowerment
  • worker skills and engagement
  • organisational sustainability.

Evidence Base and Good Practice Report

NDS used two main communication methods through the life of the Fund. The first is this dedicated website, which published project details, tools and resources at their interim reporting and final stages. This website is an evidence base for the Fund. It will continue to be maintained by NDS after all projects come to an end.

The second is the Good Practice Report which reflects on the program overall and draws conclusions about the next steps for both workforce development and future innovation funding.

Sector Development Fund

The IWF was funded through the Sector Development Fund (SDF) which assists individuals and organisations to transition to the new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) operational environment.

This includes activities such as improving the capability and capacity of the sector to deliver services within the NDIS, assistance for participants to exercise choice and control, as well as activities to ensure the sector has enough workers with the right skills.

Go to the Sector Development Fund ›


NDS sincerely thanks everyone whose contribution has made the Innovative Workforce Fund such a success. This includes the Australian Government (Department of Social Services) staff, Kim Windsor, members of the Independent Advisory Group, the IWF team of coaches, NDS staff, Mitchell Page of Creatio, Leila Wright of Wright Words and the ID Crowd. Above all, we thank all of the many people leading, taking part in, contributing to and working on the funded innovation projects themselves. Despite tight time-frames and demanding accountability requirements, project personnel remained responsive, flexible and focused on achieving the best possible results. 

October 2018

IWF videos, presentations and more...

Please click below 'Read more' to explore the IWF individual project pages where you will find lots of lovely images, videos, informative flyers and presentation.

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September 2018

Tools and resources created by the IWF projects

We are really pleased to share a total of 26 tools and resources developed by projects under the IWF. You will find 2 or more resources under each of the 6 project themes.

Read more
11 September 2018

Outside the Box conference - workforce solutions

NDS hosted the National Outside the Box conference in Sydney on 11 September 2018.

Projects from the Innovative Workforce Fund were featured with panel discussions to stimulate thinking in the areas around workforce innovation from within and beyond the sector.

The conference was a great opportunity for organisations to exhibit their projects and share their thoughts on successes and challenges.

We'd like to thank everyone who took part in such an eventful day.


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