If you’re looking to break into a rapidly growing industry, or ready for a career change, working as a disability support worker (DSW) is a rewarding path to consider.

What is a disability support worker?

A disability support worker gives daily personal, physical and emotional support to people with a disability to live their life to the fullest.

This could include:

  • Shopping and food preparation
  • Life skills at home
  • Assist with capacity building activities such as language and literacy, budgeting and computing skills
  • Organising and supporting day activities and social events
  • Support with public transport and community access

DSWs can work in a range of settings, such as clients’ homes, centre-based programs, residential or community settings.

What makes a good disability support worker?

Those in disability support roles are constantly thinking about ways to enhance the experiences for the people they support.

Wondering whether disability support work is for you? Here are some traits that make a great DSW:

  • Adaptable, flexible, and empathetic
  • Ability to work autonomously
  • Physically fit
  • Good with technology
  • Good sense of humour

General manager of Community Access and Lifestyle at Bedford, Rachael Griffiths, says people with strong collaboration skills, patience, and initiative make great DSWs.

“Bedford looks for DSWs who are willing to think outside the square, and then put themselves outside that square,” she says.

“Great DSWs display active support skills, which means doing ‘with’, not ‘for’.”

When looking for a role in disability support, employers will often look for candidates with qualifications and clearances such as:

  • Cert III in Individual Support – Disability or equivalent
  • DCSI Disability or NDIS Clearance
  • National Police Clearance (under 6 months old)
  • Senior First Aid Certificate



1. Job security in a growing industry


The disability sector can offer reliable and consistent work opportunities, largely thanks to the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

With 4.4 million Australians living with a disability, and approximately 340,000 people with active NDIS plans, the demand for qualified support workers is growing rapidly.

According to Job Outlook,  aged care and disability support work has ‘very strong’ future growth prospects over the next five years. Seek also predicts a 25.4 percent growth for disability support workers over the same period.

“Working as a DSW gives you an opportunity to bring your skills and hobbies into a paid role as you share these skills with the people you support. Do it well, and you will be provided with ample hours of work each week,” says Rachael.


2. A rewarding role that makes a difference


There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re making a profound impact on someone else’s life through your work.

While disability support work can be both mentally and physically challenging, it’s a job that allows you to make a difference every day and form lasting friendships with clients and colleagues.

“DSWs support clients to live their best life, dream big, kick goals and have fun,” adds Rachael.


3. Every day is different


No two days are the same as a disability support worker. If you prefer a diverse role with a wide range of responsibilities, this could be the perfect career for you.

On any given shift you could assist with a range of activities including organising group outings, providing companionship, helping with shopping, or creating programs for your clients.

Whether you’re supporting your clients in the community, in their home, or at a centre-based activity, you’ll always be on the go.     


4. Healthy work-life balance


Disability support work isn’t your typical 9-5 office job and many DSWs work on a contract, part-time or casual basis.

This flexibility can make it easier to maintain a healthy work-life balance.  

You may find that working a shift means you have more time for your family, social, and personal commitments.


5. Opportunities for career and skills growth


There are many different paths you could take with a career in disability support.

Other jobs in the aged care and disability industry include a behavioural support officer, personal care assistant, and personnel and training officer.  Qualifications and experience in disability support also provides a solid base to grow your skills and explore other roles in health care such as nursing, social sciences or aged care. 

Interested in a career as a disability support worker? Bedford, South Australia’s largest employer of people with disability, is currently recruiting DSWs across Adelaide. Click here to apply!


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