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Why Toowoomba needs 3000 more disability workers

TOOWOOMBA and south-west Queensland needs about 3000 more workers in the disability sector within the next 12 months.

That's according to a former coordinator of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and service provider in the region, who warned of challenges to come.

Big Dog Support Services' Steven Paull said more than 7000 disabled people were expected to get their plans approved by July 1.

Big Dog Services general manager Steven Paull, Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Big Dog Services general manager Steven Paull, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Kevin Farmer

He said the NDIS needed thousands of casual disability support workers to help the roll-out run smoothly.

"What we're finding is the families are now requesting that home care basis - that's where the big strain is, having people available at all hours," Mr Paull said.

"In Toowoomba prior to January 1, there were about 3400 people with disability support and they're anticipating by July 1 this year that should be at 7200 people in the NDIS.

"NDIS have anticipated that the disability workforce was 1050 and 1300 full-time equivalent staff before January 1, and that will increase to 1900 and 2400.

"That would equate to about 3000 staff of all types."

Rebecca Asgill (centre) helps Dan Hartfiel and Bec McDermott get pamphlets ready for delivery at Big Dog Services, Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Rebecca Asgill (centre) helps Dan Hartfiel and Bec McDermott get pamphlets ready for delivery at Big Dog Services, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Kevin Farmer

Challenge Employment and Training is one of the organisations looking to fill the shortfall with a subsidised training course next month, as part of the State Government's Skilling Queenslanders for Work program.

Big Dog is one of the service providers that will take on people who complete the course, provided they were considered suitable to be hired.

CEO Richard Lindner said the company tried to run the course in December, but could not get enough Toowoomba people interested.

"Last time, we thought we had all the info we needed, and we clearly didn't," he said.

"We brought in industry and we turned it from what we considered to be the right way, to where we let industry run the agenda."

Mr Lindner admitted not everyone would be able to get a job in the disability sector, considering the level of care needed to assist clients.

"There are rigorous checks around the nature of the people who undertake (the course)," he said.

"We're working with vulnerable people, so normal police checks need to be undertaken.

"There have been people in other regions who have been clearly unsuitable and it's not our job to provide false hope."

For details about the course, call 3282 8000.

Topics:  editors picks general-seniors-news national disability insurance scheme ndis toowoomba


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