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Building a highly-skilled disability services workforce

An extra 90,000 workers will be required nationally as spending on disability almost quadruples thanks to the NDIS. It is estimated that one in every five new jobs created in Australia will be in the disability support sector.
VMCH Disability Services is part of an innovative work-placement program for students who hope to work in disability. The pilot program, called the Disability Sector Capacity Building Project, is funded by the Department of Education and Training (DET) and managed by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
As part of the pilot, VMCH will provide disability work placements for about 30 students at its lifestyle and accommodation services that support people with disability until the end of this year.
VMCH CEO, Sonya Smart, said a well-trained workforce was essential to delivering great services to more than 460,000 people who have NDIS plans.
“We are excited to be part of this program and see enormous benefits for the people we support. It is crucial that we have strategies in place like this that will help us deliver support to people with a disability that is of the highest standard.”
These students will be studying either a Certificate III in Individual Support or Certificate IV in Disability at training providers including RMIT, ACU and InterCare Training.
Additional support will be provided by a Capacity Building Coordinator (CBC). This person will oversee the work placements and support organisations taking part in the project. VMCH is hosting one of the three CBC roles in the project.
VMCH Senior Manager Learning and Organisational Development, Kate Tonge, said the project had far-reaching benefits. “This is a win-win opportunity for VMCH. We’re helping train well-qualified students to work in disability services. This benefits our clients, their families and ultimately the industry,” she said.
 “If you put yourself in families’ shoes they deserve to feel that the people supporting their loved one are well-qualified staff that can do the job well.”
The program requires mentors to support students and VMCH has plenty of dedicated and skilled staff fill these roles.
Mentors will play an important role in the program. That is where VMCH’s dedicated and experienced disability services staff will play a key role to support students.
VMCH staff chosen as part of the program will receive supervision training, funded by DHHS, that gives them the skills and resources to take on mentor roles. These mentors will work closely with students to ensure that they get the most of their time.
“To ensure the success of the program you have to have good mentors to support students.  Students need guidance and they need assistance.” Kate said.

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