Northcott and Western Sydney Uni develop fast-tracked disability training

By Staff Writers, 29 May 2020 , Comments

To address workforce shortages in the disability care sector brought on by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis, Northcott has joined forces with Western Sydney University (WSU) to rapidly upskill, retrain and employ displaced workers.

Aligning with the Australian Government’s Higher Education Relief Package – which provides opportunities for significantly discounted short online courses – the two organisations have been working together to develop a range of new training opportunities and short courses in disability care.

Chief Executive Officer of Northcott and Deputy Chancellor of WSU, Kerry Stubbs, said one example of the collaborative work was the newly created ‘Support Assistant’ positions at Northcott. These new roles include a tailored four-week, free-of-charge training program delivered by WSU’s pathways provider, The College, and are specifically targeted at people seeking employment opportunities following job losses as a result of COVID-19.

“Since we began advertising the new positions, we’ve had an overwhelming response. Fourteen new Support Assistants have already been recruited. Many are displaced workers, whose previous careers include a pastry chef, travel agent and massage therapist,” Kerry said.

“Thanks to this partnership, we have been able to identify people who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, provide them with training and employment, and place them in roles that will relieve some of the pressure on our existing staff.”

A week before restaurants closed in Sydney, Priya Sundaram lost her job as a pastry chef in an inner city fine dining restaurant. She is now a Support Assistant at Northcott.

“Because of my (temporary working) visa status, I’m not able to access any assistance. And I haven’t been working in Australia for very long, so I don’t have much superannuation to draw upon. My family are in India, and due to travel restrictions I’m not able to go home. Even if I did go home, what would it be like for me there? It has been really scary,” Priya explained.

“I kept gravitating towards jobs in the care industry. I felt like, so many people are struggling at the moment – I could at least try to help someone, and be useful. When I saw a job advertised for a Support Assistant at Northcott, the puzzle pieces started falling into place. I think this new role will be a great new start for me. Maybe I’ll be able to keep studying, and make this my career.”

The Director of Employability and Graduate Success at WSU, Chris Youness, said the University’s assistance to Northcott and the broader community would go further than designing and delivering training and short courses.

“The University has been actively working to provide employment support for its students who have lost their employment as a result of COVID-19,” he said.

“Our students – by virtue of what they learn in their University degree, in courses including Social Sciences, Psychology, Nursing and Health Sciences – have relevant skills and capabilities and would be well-suited to roles, such as the new Support Assistant positions at Northcott.

“We will be working to help these students recognise their transferrable skills and match them to career opportunities, such as those at Northcott.”

IMAGE: Priya Sundaram (Credit: Sally Tsoutas)

Related content

For more information about the Support Assistant roles at Northcott, visit

Northcott and WSU have a long history of working together. Read about our community fundraising partnership involving the University’s Sport and Hospitality Event Management students.


Kerry Stubbs is a former CEO of Northcott (till end of August 2020).


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