Diversifying the disability workforce


Not only does the workforce need to grow, the sector also needs to attract different types of workers with backgrounds as diverse as service users themselves. These projects document how different services are rising to the challenge.

Wellways is looking at how to meet the needs and preferences of their clients from the LGBTIQ+ community. Their strategy is to recruit workers who identify as queer and can draw on that experience. For example, they could support another person who wants to get out and socialise more to build confidence in using transport at night and understand ways to stay safe. Ethnic Community Services Co-operative is using a similar approach, leveraging its connections across ethnic communities to recruit, train and on-board a group of bilingual, bicultural workers.

Plumtree Children's Services is also diversifying its workforce but in this case, through the use of peer workers who are parents who take up the role of supporting other parents to navigate choices about support options for their children. This project is also providing insights into the challenges of integrating a peer worker solution into an existing organisational structure.

Other projects are also exploring this territory including those targeting service users and workers from ATSI backgrounds. For more on these projects by NPY Women’s Council, Centacare, Synapse and Growing Potential check out the section on addressing thin markets.

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What we found

  • What strategies did the projects use to create more workforce diversity?
  • Has workforce diversity changed the choices service users made about supports or workers?
  • What was the impact on service outcomes?
  • What are the internal cultural challenges of diversifying an existing workforce?
  • What is the impact on management, job design, and development as a workforce diversifies?
  • What is the impact on workforce sustainability?


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Ethnic Community Services Co-operative

Project: Multicultural Support Choices

This project aimed to increase recruitment and retention among people under-represented in the support and social care workforce, namely men and yo...

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Project: Families as peer workers in early childhood intervention organisations

This project investigated how peer workers could assist workforce shortages, providing much needed assistance to early childhood int...

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Wellways Australia Ltd

Project: Out Together – Developing an LGBTIQ peer workforce for NDIS service provision

This project explored the development of a specialised LGBTIQ+ peer workforce within a NDIS operational environment.

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