Guide to Becoming a Disability Support Worker in Australia

If you love providing support and care for a variety of people in different ways, then a disability support worker job could be the perfect career for you. Disability support is a meaningful and versatile career, providing workers with the opportunity to make a difference every day in their clients’ ability to live independently. For a disability support worker, no day is ever the same, but every day is filled with opportunities to exercise empathy, build relationships, and experience meaningful interactions. If you believe that empathetic connection can transcend physical limitations, then you could thrive as a disability support worker.

What does a disability support worker do? 

Disability support workers provide support to people with disabilities. They can work in people’s homes, in specialised care settings, or in hospitals. They may provide support for a variety of clients, or they may work with one or two full-time clients. 

The tasks that a disability support worker performs are as varied as each person’s individual needs. They may provide companionship and help with running errands or going shopping. They may provide support with daily living activities, such as bathing, eating, and grooming. They may also help with household tasks such as cooking, cleaning, and washing laundry.  

Disability workers also have options in the way they work. They can be full-time staff for an agency or facility, or they can be self-employed independent workers. Although most are full-time, there are also many part-time jobs in the sector. If the above appeals to you, the next question you might be wondering is, how can I become a support worker?


What certifications do you need to become a disability support worker?

In Australia, there are no required certifications for disability support workers. You don’t need any educational requirements, and 11% of workers have only completed Year 10 or below of school. However, there are several certifications that are valuable in the field, and attaining a certification will make you more attractive as a candidate for disability support jobs.

Certificate III in Individual Support

Certificate III in Individual Support will prepare you to provide individualised, person-centred support to people who have a disability. This certificate program combines theory with practical training and enables you to work in home disability support or in a support facility. The training provides you with the skills and knowledge to fulfill a support role in a predictable environment with significant autonomy – key skills for workers in a home environment.

You can complete this certificate in as little as 14 weeks, but most programs are six months to a year long. The core curriculum covers principles of support care, recognizing healthy body systems, and following safe practices for direct client care. You can also choose from a variety of electives for disability care to further your knowledge on topics such as person-centred care, strengths-based approaches, and augmentive communication tools. The certificate requires a minimum of 13 units and 120 hours of work in the home or community setting. After completing the certification, you’ll be a strong candidate for jobs such as disability support worker, personal care worker, or residential care worker.

The average cost for a Certificate III in Individual Support is $2900, but many provinces offer subsidies and other help with tuition. For example, Queensland residents can take advantage of the Certificate III Guarantee, which supports people who want to obtain their first post-school Certificate III qualification.

Certificate IV in Disability

If you want to increase your skills as a disability support worker, a Certificate IV in Disability provides further specialised training that will enable you to work with more independence. A Certificate IV provides you a higher level of competence in disability support, enabling you to work in a supervisory or a more specialised role.

People who obtain this certificate usually have already been working in the disability support industry and want to further their career. After completing a Certificate IV in Disability, you’ll be eligible for positions such as disability officer or senior personal care assistant.

This certificate requires a minimum of 14 units. This program covers many of the same topics as a Certificate III, but at this level, you’ll learn in more depth, and you’ll be able to apply your skills in a broader variety of situations. For example, one core unit in Certificate III teaches you to work legally and ethically; a similar unit in Certificate IV teaches you to manage legal and ethical compliance, preparing you for a supervisory role.

The average length of this certification program is 1 year, and the average cost is $4000. Some provinces offer subsidies for qualified individuals.


What is the job outlook like for disability support workers? 

Once you’ve completed your training, you won’t have difficulty finding disability support worker jobs across the country. There are 4.4 million people in Australia, or 18% of the population, living with a long-term disability. Of that number, 32%, or 1.4 million people, have profound or severe disabilities that mean they need ongoing support to live independently. Although the percentage of the population with disabilities has decreased over time, the Australian population is also aging, and older people are more likely to have a disability. Fifty percent of Australians aged 65 and older are living with a disability, so the need for support workers will continue to increase as the population ages. 

Therefore, the job outlook for disability support workers in Australia is very strong. The number of workers needed is expected to grow by 25% from 2019 to 2024.

Disability Support Worker Salary

The average salary for disability support workers nationally is $1265/week, which is slightly less than the average salary across all industries of $1460/week. 

For people seeking a disability support worker job, this career can offer tremendous satisfaction through the opportunity to empower and support people with disabilities to thrive and live independently. If you are passionate about working with diverse people in a variety of settings to provide person-centred care, disability support could be the next step for you. 

Looking for a disability support worker role? We’re hiring! Contact us using the button at the top or bottom of the page to learn more about our current openings for disability support workers. 

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