Investigators: Kostas Mavromaras, Megan Moskos, Linda Isherwood

Commenced: 2015
Funding body: Department of Family and Community Services, NSW


The rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has led to concerns about the capacity of the disability sector to provide sufficient numbers of skilled and experienced workers. The sector faces an unprecedented increase in workforce demand, and changes in the skills required, as people with disability and their families and carers begin to exercise greater choice and control over their disability services.

Professor Kostas Mavromaras will lead a multi-disciplinary Flinders University team comprising of researchers with experience in disability, social work, economics, and workforce policy and development research. The project will provide a detailed, national assessment of existing and emerging skills imbalances in the disability sector, looking at workforce size and location, and the types of skills which are available and required. In particular the study will (1) provide a systematic overview of the uptake and completion of disability-related certified courses across Australia, (2) review the qualification and skill requirements of disability support providers, (3) explore training and lifelong learning activities of disability support workers, and (4) examine the appropriateness of training activities from the perspective of people with disability and their families and carers.

The research has two main stages. The first involves a quantitative analysis of nationally-representative data on disability-related training enrolments and completions, and employment outcomes. The second stage involves in-depth, qualitative interviews with key stakeholders, including training providers, people with disability, disability support providers, and disability support workers. Each stage of the project will be followed by a research workshop to communicate and receive feedback on the initial findings.

Overall this project will build a deeper understanding of workforce capacity and training in the disability sector, and will contribute to improvements in disability service provision and in service quality for people with disability. The research will examine systems for skills development within the disability sector to determine whether the current skills mix is adequate for the expanding skills requirements and the changing needs and expectations of people with disability and their families and carers under the NDIS. Policy recommendations will also be developed to improve training provision and accessibility within the disability sector.

The evidence generated by the research will lead to improved policy and practice in several areas, including for: (a) governments seeking better evidence about overall workforce development and potential areas of skills shortage; (b) training providers seeking to better tailor course offerings to the requirements of the disability sector; (c) disability providers and workers aspiring to better support the needs of people with disability; and (d) people with disability wanting greater choice and control in accessing disability support services.