Direct Support Workers

Direct Support Workers facilitate the development and enhancement of independent living and other skills to enable their clients to maintain their independence and/or realise their goals. They provide this support in a wide range of services and settings, from a client’s home or hostel, to a group home, community day program, respite centre and more.

A Direct Support Worker may also be known as a Community House Worker, Community Support Worker, Care Support Worker, Residential Support Worker, Home Care Worker and Respite Worker.

Support Workers need the following skills and knowledge:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Integrity, ethics and a non-judgemental approach
  • Commitment to support and encourage people as they explore new opportunities
  • Empathy, discretion, self confidence and resilience
  • A holistic view of people and respect for boundaries
  • Flexibility, adaptability and a willingness to try new things
  • Ability to build rapport with a diverse range of people
  • Ability to build relationships and trust
  • Creative approach to problem solving
  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Ability to work in a changing and challenging environment
  • A driver's licence is desirable
  • A First Aid Certificate is desirable
  • Entry qualifications are not mandatory and training is available, however some organisations prefer staff to enter with, or enrol in training for a Certificate III or IV in Disability during their first year of employment

Search for Support Worker jobs or learn more about other frontline support roles in the disability and community care sector. 

Meet a Direct Support Worker

Hayley and Matthew tell us about their day to day working lives and what it takes to do their job.


Hayley Saines: Senior Trainer/Support Worker

What does your role involve?

I work for Lambing Flat Enterprises, a rural accommodation training and support service in Young (NSW) and my role involves working ethically with people who have challenged abilities.

I train and support them in developing their living skills and community access so that they can live as independently as possible within the community. 


Direct Support Worker - Hayley Saines
What skills do you need?

My qualifications include a Certificate IV in Disabilities and a First Aid Certificate. Some of the many skills I need in my role are good communication skills, report writing, team work, proficiency in IT, a high level of self motivation and ethics, a commitment to social sustainability and a good driving record.

People working in these kind of roles also need patience and understanding, a sense of humour, self awareness and the ability to be non-judgmental and compassionate.

Matthew Old: Leaving Care Program Mentor 

What do you do day to day in your role?

I work for Northcott Disability Services and my role involves connecting with young people and believing in them and
their abilities. I spend a lot of time getting to know my clients, assisting them to work through any issues they might be dealing with and to help them build positive relationships socially, at work and where they live. I also work with my clients to plan for what they want in their future.


Direct Support Worker - Matthew Old
What kind of personality traits do you need to do your job?

A good sense of humour, a thick skin and an ability to put your own values and ideals aside.

Read more about Matthew and his role in the disability and community care sector.