Meeting NDIS rural workforce demands

Disability, education and community health experts from across the Bendigo region are working together to address the growing demand for allied health professionals equipped to work with rural people with a disability.

Participants at a forum hosted at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus are exploring how early career allied health professionals can be better supported once they enter the NDIS workforce.

Acting Head of the Rural Health School at La Trobe University, Professor Teresa Iacono, said the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) had sharply increased demand for health professionals with skills and experience in disability support, especially in rural and regional areas.

“The NDIS has made it more attractive for practices to provide disability support, while also increasing the number of people accessing services as NDIS participants.

“This means more organisations are now seeking allied health professionals – such as speech pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers and psychologists – who have experience with, and an understanding of, people with a disability,” she said.

Professor Iacono said rural and regional Australia is feeling the shortage of health professionals trained in disability support most acutely.

“The key priority is to give our students access to immersive placements in disability support, where they are applying their skills in a work setting.

“The typical model that allied health professionals use when working with a client – whether it’s a patient recovering from stroke, or an athlete overcoming injury – is to work with them until they are ‘better’.

“Working with people with disability is often quite different. The aim is to give the client choice and control – to help them set and achieve their own goals,” Professor Iacono said.

Participants in the forum included La Trobe University, Bendigo TAFE, Bendigo Community Health Service, National Disability Services, the Murray Primary Care Network, and NDIS providers including Golden City Support Services and Amicus.

The forum was initiated by a La Trobe-led working group formed to address the growing demand on the rural and regional allied health workforce due to the NDIS

Media contact: Kate O’Connor – k.o’connor@latrobe.edu.au – 5444 7415 / 0436 189 629

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