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

Working as a disability support worker can be a very rewarding job, helping those who suffer from a physical or mental disability in their homes, in hospitals and other similar environments. There are lots of job opportunities in this industry, helping your clients live a happy life by ensuring their comfort and helping them achieve everyday tasks such as eating, grocery shopping, house chores, hygiene or transport. There are lots of ways to start a career as a disability support worker such as TAFE courses, on-the-job training and work experience under more experienced staff.

  • Task Career in focus: What a disability support worker does

    You can work in a variety environments such as in your client’s house, in a medical clinic or hospital or in a group home, which is specially designed for those with a disability. You provide practical as well as emotional support for your clients and their families. Depending on where you work, or the level of physical or psychological disability, this will greatly affect what your daily tasks will be. However, some more typical daily tasks may involve assistance with medication, cleaning and personal hygiene, transportation, encouraging physical exercise, help with shopping, liaising with families and suggestions around the creation of short and long-term care plans.


    • Assistance with prescribed medication
    • Suggestions for daily activities and for long-term care plans
    • Planning fun and appropriate activities
    • Helping with the transport of clients
  • Skills Core qualities: Skills to succeed as a disability support worker

    If you are someone who is patient and caring, working as a disability support worker may be perfect for you. You should be able to show compassion as well as able to be stern where necessary. You carry a large responsibility as you will personally oversee the personal health and safety of a client and are heavily relied on by their families and friends. You may face different situations that are either physically or emotionally demanding, so you should be able to remain calm and positive at all times.

    • Able to effectively connect with those with limited communication skills
    • Patient, understanding and positive manner
    • Liaise with a client’s family, friends and medical advisors
    • Ability to handle physical elements of the role
  • Specialisations The field: Specialisations within disability services

    There are lots of different pathways for support workers in the medical and disability sector. Working with a variety of different patients, you will quickly be able to tell what elements you are skilled in and passionate about and can hone this interest into a way to progress your career, with many workers continuing on to study nursing.

    Attendant Care Worker

    An attendant care worker can work in a home or clinical environment, providing personal assistance to clients. You will usually help with everyday tasks such as hygiene, toileting, eating and daily exercise planning.

    Home Care Worker

    As the name suggests, a home care worker helps clients in their home environment, rather than in assisted living or in a hospital. They provide a break for the patient’s primary carer, which is usually a family member, by assisting the patient with everyday tasks. Your patients may suffer from a physical or mental disability or suffer from an illness or old age.

    Disability Services Instructor

    A disability services instructor works alongside other carers, families and gets to know the patient’s conditions intimately so as to advise on an appropriate care program based on the patient’s needs. This plan is designed after close consultation with those who are involved closely with the patient and then communicated to them with an appropriate implementation strategy.

  • Pathways The right track: Find study options for becoming a disability support worker

    Generally, you won’t require a qualification to become a disability support worker and can learn a lot on-the-job. To make yourself stand out from other candidates, it’s recommended you have experience or a qualification in a similar field.

    Starting Out

    There are lots of entry-level courses you can study, such as a Certificate III in Disability, which will give you a good foundation of knowledge and skills.

    Building Skills

    Develop your skills in the disability sector by completing additional study to help you specialise in an area you’re passionate about.

    Developing Your Resume

    Gain practical skills and the knowledge to boost your career prospects.

    Industry Recognition

    You will usually have to undergo some form of security check to work in the health sector such as a Working with Children or Working with Vulnerable People check.

    Entering the workforce

    In order to land your dream job, you should polish your skills and abilities into a professional resume. Check out the sample cover letters and resumes to get you started

    Job Prospects in Disability Services: Working life as a disability support officer

    There are a huge amount of job opportunities available in health and disability, with the forecasted growth set to explode in the next few years. The average salary for a disability support worker is pretty good, at $45,604, with plenty of opportunities to progress into other specialised roles.

Disability Services Industry Resources:

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