Kymberly Martin

More disability professionals likely to exit sector

Professionals providing vital care and support to those living with disability and disadvantage were proud to work in their sector but are likely to leave unless there are more opportunities to progress and develop new skills, according to new HESTA research.


HESTA CEO, Debby Blakey said community and disability services professionals have been at the coalface of the pandemic, providing care and support in a time of extreme uncertainty and instability. “But what is most concerning is that younger professionals are most likely to plan on leaving, risking a deepening gap in skills and experience unless career and training opportunities are improved,” she said.

While disability service workers were the most likely to recommend a career in community services, and were strong advocates of their employer, they were among the least likely to recommend their leaders. Pointing to the need to build leadership capability across the sector, nearly a third of disability services professionals also would not recommend their leader or manager.

The State of the Sector 2021: Community and Disability Workforce Insights research also shone a light on high levels of financial insecurity of employees in the sector.


It revealed that women in disability services had the lowest median super balance with just $130,000 at retirement compared to $193,000 for men in disability services.

According to Blakey addressing systemic issues in community and disability services, like high workforce casualisation, significant periods of unpaid work and travel time and the lack of training opportunities will be critical to creating secure, high-quality jobs and working conditions. “And that’s going to help attract and retain more professionals to the sectors and improve retirement outcomes,” she said.

Key findings from disability services professionals found:

  • Nearly 31 per cent would not recommend their leader
  • 14 per cent said they were planning to leave the sector in the next two years
  • Nearly 24 per cent said they did not feel appreciated by their employer while more than 21 per cent felt their skills and experience were not valued by the community
  • More than 40 per cent would strongly recommend working for their employer and were the most likely to recommend a career in their industry
  • Were among the proudest to work in the sector
  • Unhappiness with the organisation for which they work, wanting to develop new skills and a lack of career opportunities were the top three reasons to leave employers
  • Top reasons to stay with their employers were finding the job rewarding, liking the company for which they worked and the flexibility of hours.

HESTA is the largest superannuation fund for the health and community sectors. It has over 900,000 members, with over 80 per cent women, and manages over $66 billion in assets.

The report is available at: