The Victorian community services industry has experienced substantial growth in the areas of aged care and disability over the past five years due to shifting demographics and the recent introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). With rapid growth forecast to continue over the coming decades, improved training is required within the sector to better equip workers for the complex challenges they will face upon entering the workforce.
In 2018, the Victorian Government’s Workforce Training Innovation Fund (WTIF) provided funding to the Future Social Services Institute (FSSI) to develop an innovative new training package for the aged care and disability sectors, in partnership with the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS).
The NDIS Future Workforce Capability Project comprised the research and design of five new values-based curriculum areas for the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability), and four new RMIT microcredentials to assist with the training and professional development of sector workers. The new training materials were developed via a co-design process which placed the people who access aged care and disability services at the centre of the design process to ensure that the new curriculum reflected their values and addressed their needs.
The first stage of the project saw the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS) working closely with industry representatives to identify priority areas for inclusion in the new curriculum. The following five areas emerged:
- The Ethics of Care
- Human Rights-led Practice
- Power and Abuse
- Working with Diversity
- Enabling Technology
A knowledge review of each area was commissioned to locate gaps and deficits in existing training courses. These reviews then formed the focus of a series of co-design workshops which brought together experts by experience, provider organisations, support people, advocates and alumni to help shape the curriculum content.
“What stood out to me was that people wanted to be seen as a person,” FSSI Project Coordinator and workshop facilitator Michelle McCann explained. “They wanted to be treated with dignity and respect. They didn’t mind if someone was unsure how to use their wheelchair; they just wanted someone who was respectful and who actually saw them.”
An instructional design team led by Elissa McKenzie, Manager of Vocational Education Design at RMIT Studios, transformed the material from the knowledge reviews and co-design sessions into an innovative new curriculum focussing on experiential learning and digital literacy.
- Twenty-four high quality videos were commissioned containing interviews with service users and providers.
- Two virtual reality experiences were designed to immerse students in everyday interactions from the perspective of a service user.
- The traditional work placement model was overhauled to encourage more effective consolidation of new learning.
Once drafted, the new curriculum underwent a rigorous quality assurance process to ensure that the design phase and the final products were aligned. A comprehensive project evaluation was completed, finding the products to be innovative in terms of their knowledge and successful in addressing current gaps in the sector.
Five new modules for the Certificate III in Individual Support (Ageing and Disability) are now available to the Victorian training sector for license.
Four new RMIT microcredentials are available to provide professional development for current social service workers.
The inaugural student cohorts are due for completion in July 2020. A course evaluation is underway and feedback to date reflects a high level of student engagement and satisfaction.
Valuable new partnerships have been developed with service providers, people with disabilities, those in aged care, family carers and advocates across the sector.
The NDIS Future Workforce Capability Project delivered an innovative, high-quality, industry-relevant curriculum which will improve recruitment and retention of support workers to the Victorian community services industry.