The NDIA (National Disability Insurance Agency) provides funding support for more than five hundred thousand Australians with disability through the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme).
NDIS support workers may be employed by an organisation, or they may be self-employed and independent. Starting a small business as an NDIS support worker can provide meaningful work while providing the flexibility and freedom to work how, when and where you want to.
Are there any minimum requirements to practise as a disability support worker in Australia?
To work in disability support, you need empathy, patience and reliability, and a desire to help people with disability to live their best life. In terms of actual qualifications, they are not a requirement if you will simply be providing social support, cleaning and domestic support, gardening, transportation, basic grooming and hygiene assistance, meal prep, and helping your clients to engage with and be a part of the community.
Where qualifications come into play is for personal care. This can include assisting the client with medication, manual transfer, toileting, showering, dressing, grooming, mental health support, and care assessment, planning and coordination.
It’s important to note, though, that the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has not mandated minimum qualification requirements. That said, some employers consider a qualification mandatory, but if you are going to work as an independent support worker, it is not.
If you’d like to obtain a qualification, you might like to consider one of the following Certificate courses:
- Certificate III in Individual Support
- Certificate III in Individual Support (Disability)
- Certificate III in Individual Support (Home and Community Care)
- Certificate III in Community Services
- Certificate IV in Community Services
- Certificate IV in Disability
14 Steps to Starting Your Own Business as an NDIS Support Worker
As we just explained above, you might like to offer the ‘entry level’ services or you might prefer to offer the more in-depth services. You also may choose – or not – to gain a qualification. Whatever you choose to do, here is a list of steps to starting your own business as an independent NDIS support worker in the disability sector.
You’ll most likely be providing support services to people in their own homes. This is called ‘home-based’ or ‘at-home’ support. It can also entail providing support services to clients away from home, such as driving them to appointments, accompanying them to community events, church or shopping, or helping them to participate in education or employment.
Under the NDIS, a support worker is defined as any person who provides NDIS supports and services to people with disability. The support worker can be paid or unpaid, and may be self-employed, an employee, a contractor, a consultant, or a volunteer.
The following is a guide – not an exhaustive list – of tasks to complete before you start to offer your services as an NDIS support worker.
1. Decide how you will define your role – Will you charge for your services? Will you work alone? Will you provide support to children, adults, or both?
2. Choose what services you will offer – Will you offer general support services, such as domestic cleaning, simple meal preparation, providing social companionship, and driving them to appointments? Or will you offer personal care-oriented services, such as showering and dressing your clients, helping with toileting, and manually transferring them into and out of bed?
3. Complete a First Aid & CPR Certificate – This may or may not be mandatory in your state.
4. Complete your NDIS Worker Screening Check – From 1 February 2021, all states and territories require NDIS support workers to obtain an NDIS worker screening clearance.
5. Know your worker obligations – The NDIS has a Code of Conduct for workers that you must familiarise yourself with.
6. Complete the Quality, Safety and You worker orientation module – This module helps all NDIS workers to better support people with disability.
7. Complete COVID-19 infection control training – Established by the Australian Health Department, the free COVID-19 infection control training covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control.
8. Check your vaccination status – Are you COVID-19-vaccinated? Do you have the most up-to-date flu shot? Different states and territories have different requirements.
9. Complete other certifications and checks – Explore whether you need a Working with Children Check and/or a Police Check.
10. Register your business – You’ll need an ABN (Australian Business Number), or, in the case of a company, an ACN (Australian Company Number). You may also need to register for GST if you think your gross annual income will be more than $75,000. Start here.
11. Register as an NDIS provider – This is optional. Read more here.
12. Purchase insurance for your business – At the very least, you will need public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance. An insurance broker can explain what you need for your particular business.
13. Join an agency or other organisation – You can register your profile on websites such as com.au, Careseekers, or Find A Carer. You’ll be able to choose your own hourly rate, availability and work type and you’ll be covered by the organisation’s insurance policies. The admin for each support session is managed through the organisation’s platform and you pay a percentage commission of your hourly rate to the organisation.
14. Advertise your business – If you choose to go out on your own (and not join one of the abovementioned platforms), you will need to promote your business through ads, social media, a website, flyers, word of mouth and other methods.
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