5 rewarding jobs in disability services (that aren’t support work)
If you’re drawn to a career that sees you making a difference in people’s lives every day, disability services could be your perfect fit, even if support work isn’t your goal.
Working in disability services doesn’t have to mean pursuing a career as a disability support worker. There’s an array of career opportunities within disability care that can be just as rewarding as more hands-on roles.
A lot goes on behind the scenes—from policy guidance to operations support, case management to advocacy—where the inner workings of an organisation make all the difference. These roles are the cogs that enable disability services to change peoples’ lives. And you may be surprised to learn that those behind-the scenes jobs, the ones that help the sector function optimally, can be just as rewarding as the more immediate roles.
What are 5 different career paths within the disability sector?
1. Case manager
Case managers work closely with individuals with disability to coordinate and manage their care plans. Responsibilities typically include conducting assessments, developing support plans, coordinating services, and advocating for an individual’s needs and rights. Case managers will liaise with various organisations such as government agencies, allied health professionals, and community organisations to ensure these needs are met.
A crucial part of the role involves staying up to date with policies and legislation in relation to government services, such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), to ensure best practice and adequate access to services.
Related course: Graduate Certificate in Case Management
2. Operations support
Operations support involves providing administrative and logistical assistance to a disability services organisation, its employees, and their clients to ensure the smooth functioning of all aspects within the business.
This can involve everything from managing system operations to matching support workers with clients and ensuring appointments run on time. While specific responsibilities and tasks vary depending on the organisation, key aspects revolve around administrative support and quality assurance.
Related courses: Bachelor of Business (Business Administration)
3. Services and support coordinator
Disability services coordinators work within organisations or institutions to coordinate and oversee the delivery of disability support services. They may be responsible for program development, staff training, and ensuring compliance with regulations and policies.
Service coordinators play a crucial role in meeting the specific needs of each individual under the care of an organisation, contributing to overall wellbeing and quality of life.
Related course: Master of Human Services
4. Policy officer
Policy officers work towards creating an inclusive and supportive environment for people with disability. They’re responsible for contributing to the development and implementation of policies, analysing existing policies to ensure they remain relevant, researching best practices, and providing recommendations for how disability services can be improved. Areas policy officers work towards improving include education, training, employment, health and welfare support.
Related course: Master of Disability Practice and Leadership
5. Disability advocate
A disability advocate champions for the rights and needs of individuals with disabilities. Careers in disability advocacy can be at an individual or systemic level.
Individual advocates provide one-on-one assistance with the view of helping a person with a disability resolve an issue. These can be complex problems, such as navigating NDIS funding, to everyday challenges like managing money. Advocates help an individual have their voice heard, interpret complex information, and aide decision making.
As a systemic advocate your role involves advocating for the rights and needs of individuals with disability on a systemic level. Your work is focused on addressing broader issues and initiating systemic change that will benefit disability services as a whole. This can be anything from devising inclusive solutions to national policy issues and raising awareness about the rights and needs of individuals with disability, to collaborations with disability service providers, government agencies, and community organisations.
Related course: Graduate Certificate in Disability Studies
Why choose a career in disability care?
If you’ve ever spoken to someone working in disability services, it’s likely you quickly got a sense of the enormous personal gain and unrivalled career satisfaction the sector offers.
Liam Kenny, who works in operations support at Sunshine Butterflies, says he never wakes up on a Monday morning resenting going to work.
“There aren’t too many business-related roles out there where you get to develop a one-on-one connection with your clientele,” explains Liam, who used to be an accountant.
“Working with our members every day is one of the most rewarding experiences, to know that I’m going to work and making a difference in peoples’ lives,” he says. “I know that sounds a bit cliche but it’s 100 percent true.”
After 5 years at Sunshine Butterflies he’s witnessed first-hand the positive impact his work can have on the lives of people living with disability.
“For so many of our clients we can look back to when they started with us and see the difference compared to where they are now,” he says. For Liam, that is where the value lies. “To know that you’ve been a big part of that change,” he says.
Want to explore a career in this crucial sector? Discover the online disability care courses that are available with leading universities, through Open Universities Australia.