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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! 

  

 

Details of the North Queensland Regional Workforce Action Plan can be found here: 

 

 

Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay region

Like the good folks in the North Queensland region, this region has also been through the process with WorkAbility Queensland and now have a completed Regional Workforce Action Plan they’re continuing to implement.

In Mackay, they’ve had great success with a different kind of jobs expo. You can read in more depth about the “pop-up expo” approach here: 

  

 

Details of the Whitsunday, Isaac and Mackay Regional Workforce Action Plan can be found here:

  

 

Southwest Queensland region

The process is nearing completion in the Southwest region with the well-established working group  focused on implementing the specifics of their completed Workforce Action Plan.

If you’re not already aware, they’re holding a careers expo on 15 September. Find out more here: 

  

 

Details of their Workforce Action Plan can be found here:

  

 

Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset region

Focus on the building the NDIS workforce started in this region when the team from Workability Queensland hit town in April.

These guys have now got their Regional Workforce Action Plan in place and are busy implementing some of the great ideas they’ve had to meet their local needs.

Take a look at the Disability Jobs Roadshow for example.

It’s a match made in heaven. On one hand, you have Job Active providers who are funded to help people find work. On the other hand, you have disability sector organisations who really need people to work.

So, the clever folks in this region have brought together the Job Active providers, training providers and service providers to take advantage of the crossover in their challenges and objectives.

The initiative bridges the gap in recruitment in a way that reduces costs to service providers and encourages job seekers to consider working in the disability sector.

To this point, the project has seen approximately two dozen employment outcomes in the Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset NDIS region from four Jobs Roadshow sessions with more to come!

Their Regional Workforce Action Plan isn’t on the website just yet, but keep an eye out for it here: 

  

 

Bundaberg & Wide Bay Burnett region

The Bundaberg & Wide Bay Burnett region is currently a hive of activity as the now established working group put in the hard yards to establish their Workforce Action Plan.

Keep an eye out here for the great things to come from this region once their plan is ready:

  

 

The Greater Southeast Queensland region

Encompassing all the space from Gympie to the New South Wales border, the mega region dubbed 'the Greater Southeast Queensland region' is currently in the throes of holding four separate stakeholder forums.

Each of the forums are designed to honour the NDIS regions that the WorkAbility Queensland initiative have combined for operational expediency.

The outcomes of those forums will result in a single Greater Southeast Queensland Workforce Action Plan that will still accommodate regional specificity.  

Plan or no plan, this forward-thinking region already has some great initiatives in play.

After completing a study visit of the Health Industry’s Health Hubs program, those parties behind a Logan working group have proposed the region mirror the successful initiative with their own program – Community and Health Inspirations Program (CHIP) – to deliver the Certificate II in Community Services in Schools.

Keep an eye out here for the great things to come from this region once their plan is ready: 

  

 

Far North Queensland

WorkAbility Queensland is on track to hold the Far North Queensland regional forum in early September.

If your organisation operates in this region and you want to get involved, click here for more information and to register:

  

 

Otherwise, keep an eye out here for the great things to come from this region once their plan is ready: 

  

 

Central Queensland

Last, but certainly not least, the regional forum in Central Queensland is planned for late September/early October.

An exact date is yet to be set but keep an eye out here for details: 

  

 

What comes next?

“From WorkAbility Queensland’s perspective, we’re hoping that the legacy we leave in each region is a set of developed relationships and partnerships between the skills ecosystem partners that will continue addressing challenges as they arise even once we’re gone from the scene,” says Kylie.

“We don’t want to see just the sector or any other silo trying to tackle the challenges associated with the changing disability workforce by themselves.

“We’re already seeing this in practice. Regional working groups are working out a way to keep going once we exit. There’s not one consistent model for doing that. Everyone is finding their own approach,” she says.

“Part of the work done by the Local WorkAbility Queensland Coordinator is to identify ways the working groups might continue after we’ve gone, and who might lead that once the WorkAbility Queensland initiative funding for that region comes to a close.”


Key takeaways

In one form or another, NDIS workforce readiness initiatives continue in every region. If you want to be involved in strengthening the disability services workforce in your region, you can contact your Local WorkAbility Queensland Coordinator or Kylie Hogan using the details below.  

Kylie Hogan
National Disability Services
Phone: (07) 3828 9407
Email: kylie.hogan@nds.org.au

 

North Queensland

Greg Clarke
North Queensland Employment Facilitator
Department of Employment
Phone: 0427 662 118
Email: gregfclarke@gmail.com
 

Whitsunday, Isaac & Mackay region

Kylie Hogan
National Disability Services
Phone: (07) 3828 9407
Email: kylie.hogan@nds.org.au

 
Southwest Queensland region

Tracy McDonald
Phone: 0484 595 614
Email: tracy.mcdonald@nds.org.au

 

Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset region

Hayley Wesbro
Phone: 0448 155 821
Email: hayley.wesbro@nds.org.au

 
Bundaberg & Wide Bay Burnett region

Melinda Everett
Phone: 0459 871 648
Email: melinda.everett@nds.org.au
 

The Greater Southeast Queensland region

Brisbane South, Logan and Redlands, and the the Gold Coast NDIS regions

Helen Hansen
Phone: 0438 668 963
Email: helen.hansen@nds.org.au

Brisbane North, Moreton Bay, and the Sunshine Coast NDIS regions

Ian Montague
Phone: 0438 082 971
Email: ian.montague@nds.org.au

 

Far North Queensland

Deb Selway
Phone: 0459 871 650
Email: deb.selway@nds.org.au

 

Central Queensland

Kylie Hogan
National Disability Services
Phone: (07) 3828 9407
Email: kylie.hogan@nds.org.au

 

The NDIS in Queensland: Creating job opportunities in the disability sector


 

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