Real workers in aged care, disability and veterans’ support have been enlisted to share their experiences in the workplace in a national campaign, aimed at encouraging thousands more to join them.
- Australia faces critical staff shortages over the next few years, with thousands more care workers needed
- The federal government has committed $13.3 million over 12 months to a multi-media campaign about the benefits of working in the care sectors
- The campaign features real people with disability, older people and veterans, along with their support and care workers
Faced with estimates of critical staff shortages over the next few years and beyond, the federal government has launched the Life Changing Life multi-media campaign.
National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) Minister Linda Reynolds told the ABC, $13.3 million had been committed over 12 months to sell the benefits of working in the care sectors.
“We’ve estimated that between aged care, veterans and disability, we need at least another 130,000 to 150,000 workers over the next few years.”
A new website has been created to encourage people to apply for jobs and the campaign extends across social media.
Ms Reynolds said they hadn’t used paid actors but real people with disability, older people and veterans, along with their support and care workers.
And she said it would bust myths about support work – including that it doesn’t pay well.
“There are good salaries across the sector and there are so many different jobs available in this sector, from those that require tertiary qualifications in the allied health professions to support workers of all types,” she said.
The NDIS will require an additional 83,000 support workers by 2024.
Sydney woman Kaitlin Mountain has been a support worker since 2017 and has worked with a range of clients including autistic and deaf people.
Ms Mountain, 29, “loves her job” but said people considering a career in the field needed to get into it for the “right reasons”.
“I’ve learnt empathy, how to interact with different people, that there’s no one right way of doing things and to be creative.”
Ms Mountain said she always had a curiosity about disability growing up.
“I was lucky that I was exposed to disability from a young age because I had a friend at school whose parents were deaf,” she said.
“Disability was normalised and I always wanted to be a bridge for people because I’ve seen people with disability be pushed aside by society.”
Initially starting out as a youth worker, Ms Mountain found herself in hospital in 2015 with the chronic illness autoimmune encephalitis.
Needing assistance during that time, Ms Mountain realised the importance of support workers.
Professor of Disability and Health at the University of Melbourne, Anne Kavanagh, said support workers were largely misunderstood and undervalued.
“It’s a really exciting place to work where you can enable people with disability to live the life they want.”
Professor Kavanagh said many people were not aware that support work didn’t just involve showering and feeding but also getting people with disability out into the community.
She said people from a range of fields were being attracted to the sector including from the creative industries.
“We tend to think of support workers as being employed by the one major service and some are, but there are also support workers who are self-employed or working through online platforms,” Professor Kavanagh said.
“Support work allows for flexibility and it’s no mistake that it attracts people who are also trying to look for additional work so it can complement other kinds of careers where work might be a bit more precarious.”
Professor Kavanagh said people often overlooked the possibilities for career opportunities.
“I’ve seen many support workers move from face-to-face support into management roles or within the NDIS, but that deep experience of working on the ground with people with disabilities is critical to be good in those management roles.”