How Queensland is building the best NDIS workforce, one region at a time
By the middle of next year, the NDIS will be in full flight across Queensland. But are we ready? Is our workforce going to be able to cope with the demands placed on an already stressed system?
The WorkAbility Queensland initiative is getting our state ready to thrive through the NDIS, one region at a time.
Thankfully, much has already happened across our beautiful state that puts us well and truly on track for NDIS workforce success.
The WorkAbility Queensland initiative – a Queensland and Commonwealth Government funded consortium of CSIA, NDS Queensland, Workforce Council and QCOSS – is behind a lot of that work.
The NDIA and Queensland Government have broken Queensland into 13 regions for the purposes of rolling out the NDIS over the three year implementation period.
Workability Queensland is following this roll-out schedule at the regional level and has condensed some regional areas for important workforce initiatives.
Especially in spots like South East Queensland, it made sense to combine regional planning work where many of the organisations concerned work across multiples of the NDIA roll-out regions.
In some regions, the NDIS has settled in. For other regions, it’s still on the way with every region at a different stage of preparation or implementation of workforce initiatives.
We talked to Kylie Hogan, Senior Sector Development Officer at NDS Queensland, about how WorkAbility Queensland was supporting each region to build the NDIS workforce needed today and tomorrow.
“The project is using a similar approach at both a state and the local level around engaging the skills ecosystem to work together to support this work. Information flows both ways between the two levels to achieve best outcomes,” says Kylie
“We’ve started by doing a bit of readiness work in each region, which is around engaging with the various players in the skills ecosystem, letting them know about WorkAbility Queensland and what the process is for creating a regional Workforce Action Plan.
“The disability sector is fairly easy to engage in that space but it’s also about going in and talking to employment and training providers, and all the tiers of government represented on the ground.
“We’re talking to these guys around what the NDIS will mean in terms of workforce in their region and encouraging participating in the project,” she says.
So, what is the process for creating a Workforce Action Plan?
The WorkAbility Queensland initiative is funded for 12-months on the ground local coordination in each region.
To make the most of that time, the WorkAbility Queensland team from NDS Queensland go into each region around 3-months before the NDIS is scheduled for roll-out there.
This is when the below process kicks in.
1. Begin engagement with local parties that hold a stake in the future of the disability workforce
2. Recruit a Local Workability Queensland Coordinator
3. Hold a forum with the abovementioned relevant local parties:
- The forum is designed to get everyone on the same page and heading in the same direction
- Participants discuss the local challenges and opportunities for the NDIS workforce, develop a shared understanding of the regional context and what people they need to support their local transition to NDIS
- The intended outcome of each forum is a commitment by participants to form a working group that will create the regional workforce action plan
4. Establish the Regional Working Group to jointly plan for the region
5. Develop the Regional Workforce Action Plan
6. Support implementation of the Plan
7. Workability Queensland exits the region, leaving established relationships on the ground and a road map for local NDIS workforce success.
“Our aim is to have the Plan in place at the point that transition to NDIS starts in the region – so that’s the first three months of our work in each region,” says Kylie.
“The next nine months is spent supporting the implementation of the plans so that when we exit they have made some good progress.”
Interestingly, Kylie tells us that the expected spike in workforce around the NDIS rollout hasn’t yet peaked in Queensland.
“We haven’t seen huge workforce growth in regions right off the bat,” says Kylie.
“Largely, it’s because existing participants are rolling into the NDIS, so while there is potential for workforce growth, you won’t see the huge growth numbers until we see lots of new clients entering the NDIS.
“As a result, when we’re developing the Workforce Action Plans in each region, we tend to focus on what needs to be done to transition existing staff into the NDIS environment while also working on how to attract a new workforce,” she says.
Where is everyone up to?
North Queensland region
The folks in this region have been through the process with WorkAbility Queensland and now have a Regional Workforce Action Plan they’re continuing to implement.
Because they were the first Queensland region out the gate for the NDIS rollout, they are also the most advanced in terms of the WorkAbility Queensland initiative.
So far, they are an excellent example of sustaining the relationships that have been built without the continued local presence of WorkAbility Queensland.
They’ve also already implemented some really successful projects from their Workforce Action Plan, including a Careers in Disability jobs expo in Townsville last October which saw close to 700 people express interest in working in the sector!