Support Workers offer a variety of different health services to help people with physical and mental health conditions. As the need for these types of jobs continues to rise in Australia, there are many opportunities available that allow you to step into this role within your community!
Ever considered following a career as a support worker? Looking to know what a support worker’s workload consists of, what qualifications you might need, or what it is like to be a support worker in Australia?
This week’s blog post delves deep into what being a Support Worker involves, from the daily work life and tasks, various study paths to the multitude of different career options, and beyond.
What Do Support Workers Do?
Support Workers offer care and support to individuals and families with various forms of mental or physical struggles, such as disability, illnesses, addictions, or abuse. They could also be suffering from a range of medical conditions rendering them often incapable of independent living. These individuals could range from young children to adults, as well as the elderly or frail, and can come from different cultural backgrounds as well as social and economic standings.
Support Workers play a crucial role, as they are in direct contact with the clients and their families, not only offering physical assistance in all their daily activities, but also in providing companionship and emotional support.
The service they provide could be temporary, or sometimes permanent for clients with severe conditions. Clients may require support in their own private homes, or any of the various community housing & accommodation centres (e.g. aged care), either in the major cities or in rural and remote areas of Australia.
Support Workers need to be mentally and physically prepared to take care of a multitude of tasks on any single day.
Daily activities could include:
- Collaborative note-keeping and reporting according to organisational standards and procedures
- Interacting on a personal level, by providing encouragement and companionship, a most vital, yet often easily forgotten duty
- Helping clients to acquire new skills or take up new hobbies, develop new interests or find employment
- Plan social activities that may benefit their clients, both physically and emotionally
- Home Care – Attend to domestic tasks, such as cleaning, ironing, menu planning, cooking, etc.
- Grocery shopping
- Provide support and general assistance with personal care, including hygiene and grooming (optional depending on their Job Description Form)
- Work with doctors and therapists
- First Aid – Dressing wounds, administering medication and first-aid if required (and qualified to do so)
- Collaboratively Explore the needs of the client and plan supports and opportunities for wellness and growth
What Qualifications Are Needed To Be A Support Worker?
Although tertiary qualifications are not required to work as a Support Worker, most employers in Australia request a minimum Certificate III or IV qualification(s). As clients come in various forms, the employment of Support Workers will depend on their experience and areas of specialisation.
The vast majority of Support Workers currently employed in Australia have achieved a Certificate IV qualification, while some do hold a Bachelor’s Degree.
How Much Does A Support Worker Make In Australia?
An average starting job salary for full-time Support Workers in Australia is around $39,000, but most jobs advertised are for more qualified people, averaging out between $50,000 and $70,000, depending on the qualification, field of expertise, and job experience.
For instance, Personal Support Workers may earn around $26 per hour, while Disability Support Workers, which require more specialised skills, earn a higher hourly rate of $31 or higher, with the highest rates of over $35-40 per hour being paid to Community Support Workers. This all depends on your worker qualifications, the field of expertise, and years as well as your level of experience.
Most Support Workers are employed on a full-time basis, while part-time employment is also available for people wishing to work fewer hours. Your job’s salary package may also vary from state to state and according to the area of deployment, with various additional perks offered for working in some of the more remote and rural areas of Australia.
Job Outlook For Support Workers
While Support Work is such a wide industry requiring numerous jobs/fields of expertise, there is an increasing demand for suitably qualified Support Workers, in the foreseeable future.
As with all the other jobs in the Health Sector across Australia, especially in the wake of Covid-19, vacancies for Support Workers are expected to rise substantially. This will pave the way for more Support Workers of all types to enter and make a career in this field. According to the National Disability Insurances Scheme (ndis), the aged care sector alone is expected to grow by 20% by 2024, with over 57,000 expected to enter the sector.
What Is It Like Being A Support Worker?
Taking care of any person with mental/physical health struggles is an extremely challenging and tough profession. Being in such close contact on a physical and emotional level for hours on end, day after day, takes unrelenting patience, compassion, and strength of character.
You may be working with affected people of all ages, the elderly struggling from dementia, young children from abusive homes, and alcohol or substance addicts, as well as other individuals living with numerous illnesses and temporary or chronic conditions.
As a Support Worker, you will need to acquire or develop excellent communication skills to enable you to fully understand your client’s health needs and provide them with the care and support they deserve. Some clients will be extremely difficult and may not be able to always make themselves understood verbally.
Your number one priority will be to ensure the client receives all the support they need to improve their wellbeing, no matter what it is. You will need to be continually motivating them to do whatever they want to do and for you to make that possible. You may even be put into unusual and difficult situations, where you will need to think outside the box to manage them, without compromising the safety and well-being of your client.
However, the upside of being a Support Worker is that you are making a career of dedicating your life to supporting others to live a more meaningful and fulfilling existence. What could be more rewarding than that?
Study To Become A Support Worker in Australia
To pursue a job as a Support Worker in Australia and be able to perform duties that are so vital to the lives of so many disadvantaged people, one would first need to acquire numerous skills and expertise.
The Diploma of Community Services from TrainSmart is a 12-month online course that will equip students with all the necessary skills and specialised knowledge in the various community support services. It will allow students access to Health and Community Service Trainers, to undergo the 100 hours of work placement in the various fields, which is mandatory for this diploma. The training you will undergo in this course will be vital for a career in various fields within Community Services.