Ability First Australia

Ability First

Ability First Australia

Members employ >14,000 Australia wide staff

Sydney, NSW

Ability First Australia is a not-for-profit strategic alliance of 14 leading disability service providers operating across Australia. Their members employ more than 14,000 staff, and are responsible for around $1 billion worth of care and support services to over 92,000 people with disability, their families and carers.

The disability services sector is currently challenged with balancing organisational transition with daily operations in an evolving regulatory environment. Additional responsibilities have been placed on frontline leadership including change management, commercial acumen, business and financial management, sales and contract negotiation and quality and safeguarding. Yet Frontline Leaders (FLLs) are still tasked with their core responsibilities of supervision, mentoring and service delivery. Ability First Australia were successful in receiving funding for a project to build Frontline Leaders Capability in the disability sector, with the overall purpose of developing a pathway to attracting, retaining and growing a skilled NDIS workforce.


The purpose of the project was to define the role, capacity and capabilities of the frontline leader to inform organisation and job design, recruitment practices and training methodology. With over 20 years’ experience in organisational development and learning and development, Harrison Human Resources were commissioned to provide a HR Lead for the project. Responsibilities included:

  • Developing capabilities and conducting skills-gap analysis
  • Defining organisational design options
  • Developing tools to support recruitment best practice
  • Facilitating workshops with key stakeholders
  • Developing a training and coaching methodology to support career pathways
  • Designing recruitment strategies to attract and retain candidates


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“Harrison Human Resources is responsive and very professional. Claire worked with us to find consultants who fitted the way we worked and had the capabilities we needed. It was a great experience and one we will use again for future projects.”

Peter Stewart, Project Manager
Ability First Australia

The project was so successful it was extended with the following key outputs achieved:

  • Role Matrix – defined the role of the current frontline leader including the percentage of time spent on each activity, in order to understand what is viable in an NDIS market. Harrison Human Resources also performed a gap analysis between the current situation and future requirements, seeking ways to streamline, reduce or eliminate additional burdens.
  • A New Position Description – defined the role of the future frontline leader, considering capacity required to meet role requirements. The HHR team also defined the capabilities of the future frontline leader to understand skill deficits, identifying other sectors to recruit from.
  • Frontline Leader Capability and Leadership Framework – defined a range of organisational design options for successful span of control for the sector.
  • A HR Toolkit – including a range of tools to support providers in recruiting people with the right capabilities for frontline leadership.
  • Educational Development Framework – Harrison Human Resources developed an evidence-based framework for the education and technology sectors to build solutions.
  • Career Pathway Mapping – to increase capacity for leaders to be successful in these roles, while also facilitating career pathways into and within the NDIS workforce to attract and retain quality professionals to the sector.
  • Tailored HR Policies were also delivered to help provide continuity and support for NDIS providers, NDIS workers and NDIS participants.
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