Immense growth is on the way for the disability services sector – and with it, big changes to the make up of organisations carrying out such vital work.
A 2013 move to a nationally consistent National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is the catalyst for this transformation. There are now about 500,000 NDIS participants and is projected to grow to over 800,000 by 2030.
With this growth in demand for services comes the need for a more skilled workforce. It’s a workforce that will be needing a lot of support – something that Rowan Lennox of Northcott, a not-for-profit disability service provider, is working with AGSM Executive Education to proactively address.
Northcott offers support for people with disability – everything from suitable housing and in-home assistance to workforce training, therapy and more across NSW and the ACT.
Rowan is Northcott’s General Manager of Early Childhood Services. As a Partner in the Community delivering the NDIS across Western Sydney, Hunter New-England, Mid North Coast and Northern NSW, his team of 200 staff offers support to more than 11,000 children aged 0-6 with developmental concerns, delays or disability. The staff work with families to develop personalised assistance programs and provide access to community services.
Rowan’s role, which includes the strategic deployment and building of the team, gives him a unique perspective of the changing care landscape.
“The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) says the sector needs about 83,000 new workers by 2024 which is a 31% increase in the size of the workforce,” Rowan says. “We’re already seeing that need – it’s a constant challenge to bring in enough staff and give them the training and support they need to then care for our customers.”
Rowan says it’s more important than ever to develop emerging leaders who can guide the incoming wave of workers.
“You can’t just rely on finding experienced, qualified people to step straight into these roles,” he says. “It’s simply not feasible to meet the demand.”
“We need to find smart, capable people with potential who are the right cultural fit for Northcott. People have always been at the centre of our organisation, and those who choose to work for Northcott share our purpose of building an inclusive society.”
Here’s how Northcott worked with AGSM to develop and strengthen leaders in the Early Childhood Services team, to effectively onboard the new wave of workers that are expected in the sector.
See also: How can private insurance help fund Australia's aged care?
Looking outside for help on leadership
Northcott has always emphasised leadership development in the past. But something wasn’t quite clicking.
“We’ve often leaned on the 70-20-10 model of learning development – 70% on-the-job learning, 20% working and talking with others and 10% improvement through courses and training,” Rowan says.
That final 10% was missing the mark. Recently elevated leaders at Northcott told Rowan that existing course and training options weren’t impactful enough.
“We needed to look outside of Northcott for exposure to a broader range of experiences and more specialised leadership focus.”
When Rowan spoke to colleagues about their leadership training experiences, one name kept coming up.
“The feedback on AGSM’s different programs was consistently positive,” he says. “It was all about the experience and backgrounds of the course facilitators, and the relevance of course content.
“It was current, with a focus on contemporary research, trends and theory, not things that were popular 40 years ago.”
See also: Tackling unconscious bias through education and opportunity