Workforce Innovation


Workforce Summit wrap up

The Community Services Industry, government and the wider community came together to hear from experts, form new ideas and be challenged in how we adapt to a changing business environment.

As we move into the next phase for Industry, we need to plan a workforce for the future that meets community expectation and delivers value to people.

More than 100 people attended the Workforce Summit on Wednesday 7 August to explore innovation and collaboration to secure the future of the workforce.

If you couldn’t attend you won't miss out, the CSIA Day Summit Series podcast is in production where we will release recordings of the day along with bonus sessions.

In the meantime, we have some key takeaways from the day.

The day started with Uncle Des Sandy performing Welcome to Country followed by a keynote session and workshop with James O’Loghlin, most well-known as host of ABC TV’s The New Inventors.

James took us through how innovation happens, the six main barriers to thinking creatively and four strategies to break free of habitual thinking.

During the workshop session he challenged everyone on the spot to come up with better ways of doing things in their own workplace and pitch solutions.

“Innovation is simply looking at what you do and thinking of a way of doing it a little bit better,” explained James. “You know there’s new ways and better ways of delivering services to customers and clients. It’s a matter of finding them. That’s the why.”

James ran a workshop that asked participants to write down opportunities for innovation in their organisations, as many as they could, not worrying about perfection. Next in groups of three, each person turned one of their innovated ideas into a pitch they shared with their groups, that they helped each other explore through collaboration their ideas, do some troubleshooting, making it better. He explained that a good pitch aims to describe the problem and then the solution to the problem. A great starting point for conversations. He started the wider group thinking about how helpful this session was and how they could engage other people in a range of roles in their organisation in the innovation process. 

He also challenged us to spend five minutes a day thinking about ways that we can be innovative in our organisation and how we could implement that innovation. Five minutes adds up to 25 minutes a week, 100 minutes a months, 1,300 minutes a year that could be easily dedicated to small incremental steps towards innovation. 



By the end of James’s session not only was everyone an innovator but we were well-equipped to create a culture of innovation where better ways of thinking are part of everyone’s job.

University of Western Australia’s Centre for Social Impact Director of Learning for Purpose Dr Ramon Wenzel went through key findings from the Not-for-Profit People Management and Analytics report and how it relates to the Community Services Industry.

Ramon took us through how he is using the data in his research to steer us towards a thriving Industry that attracts, develops, retains and motivates the best talent. Some of the statistics were surprising and provided deep insight to the type of planning needed for the future.

As a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) employer and participant, Social Justice Advocate Nigel Webb provided insight into the benefits of including people with disability in workforce planning and recruitment when it comes to the NDIS.

In the past 30 years Nigel has employed more than 200 workers to deliver a range of services in his home as well as attending important meeting and events with him. His talk provides integral insights for any organisation planning their workforce through the NDIS. You can read a full account of Nigel’s presentation and watch the video of this session here.

The next session with CREATE Foundation Naraja Clay and Rachael Donovan was a discussion about the value of recruiting people with lived experience and the challenges and opportunities that come with that.

“If we really want to deliver the best service for our clients, whichever cohort they may come from, I think we really need to have people with that kind of lived experience in our workforce, because they’re the ones that can really shape, and help design and deliver programs that are going to be effective for those people,” explained Rachael.

After a lunch break spent networking and reflecting on what we had heard so far, we were ready to be challenged further.

Business owner and disability advocate Peter Tully, Murawin Managing Director Carol Vale, Dr Ramon Wenzel and Founder and Co-Owner of The Life Cooperative Robyn Kaczmarek brought their insights and stories together in a panel session on shattering the stories we tell about workforce.

Data expert Ramon gave us some facts to consider when it comes to staff retention, “…a leaving person, especially an employee, can cost up to five times in direct and hidden costs to replace,” he explained.

Carol Vale posed a number of hard-hitting questions to the audience about the narrative we tell ourselves when it comes to employing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

“I think that’s the big myth that we need to change, is that when you employ an Aboriginal person, you don’t just get the Aboriginality, you get the technical qualifications and experiences that come with that,” explained Carol. “It is important to position that equally with the Aboriginality. In regard to keeping them in the workplace, it is about enabling both of those parts to their being.”

Peter Tully provided insight into what we can do to create more inclusive workplaces for people with disability and the importance of not being afraid to have difficult conversations.

“I think the most important thing is to bring people on the journey,” said Peter. “Make sure whoever is part of the team, whether they’re a paid employee or a volunteer, that they are given the opportunity to have their say and allow ideas to grow from that, because that allows people to take ownership as they become part of what you’re doing.”

Robyn Kaczmarek echoes Peter’s advice in the way she approaches workforce planning. She challenged the audience to take the tools of a person-centred approach and apply them to staff. Read more about Robyn’s approach and how worker-owned co-operatives could change the future of workforce in this blog.

It was time to workshop our ideas again in Jan Ungerer Insightful Communications Director and Facilitator’s session. Using her Safe to Stretch tool, Jan invited participants to collectively come up with their top leadership practices.  

“When we can create the conditions that optimise potential, that is go beyond where we thought we could go, we experience great levels of satisfaction and achievement, leading us to new ways of thinking and being,” explained Jan.

James O’Loghlin and CSIA CEO Belinda Drew wrapped up the day reflecting on their top takeaways. Cultural awareness, diversity and inclusion were key themes throughout the day.

James and Belinda discussed how we prevent the old paradigms dragging us back as we try to pursue the new.

“Today has been a great conversation. One of the challenges for us is to think on this topic in a much more integrated way,” Belinda reflected. “To think about individual workers, to think about the context that they’re in, the organisations, the business models that we’re operating across Industry, how we can work together to secure the talent that we need in the future to do the work we do.”

We look forward to sharing more insights with you and continuing the conversation through our podcast series. Sign up to Ignite to be one of the first to hear it.



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