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  • Writer's pictureJacqui Grant

Disability Business - Success

Learn what is required to run a disability business in Australia

Know WHY you want to run a disability business.

Running a disability business can be very rewarding and a huge part of that is being of service to others to help them to live their life with support and empowerment, achieving their goals.

But there is so much more to running a business than being a support person, there is a lot of responsibility and legal requirements which many people do not consider.

The first place to start when considering running a disability business is WHY, do I want to run a disability business or be a sole trader?

If you response to that is that question is because "my boss didn't treat me right" or "the company i work for doesn't care" while they maybe reasonable reasons, it's important to understand that they are only a small part of running your own business.

Your employer has taken a lot of the responsibility and legal requirements of running a business away from you, they will be aware of all the compliances for both the disability sector and the Australian business compliance that you will have no idea about, unless you have run a business in the past.

While it is great to be your own boss, work when you choose and not have to answer to a boss, you do become completely responsible for EVERY aspect of your business, financials, tax, superannuation, legal obligations of being an Australian Business Owner, meeting legislation and the disability act, compliances as set out by NDIS, even for none registered NDIS service providers, duty of care for participants and ensuring you are working in a safe environment.

Setting your business up properly

Now that you have decided to go ahead and become a sole trader or company in the disability sector, you require to set your business up properly.

We do have a FREE check list which you can access here:

You also require all your documents for running your business and yes its more than a service agreement.

As part of Best Practice and to help you ensure you business is meeting all compliances we always recommend that you have clear policies and procedures to suit your business.

In our disability sector store, we have the complete bundles which include everything you require from a business documentation perspective, including some resources to help you understand a little more about the sector.

Duty of Care - Important part of your business

As part of running your business you are require to meet insurance requirements so you stay within your scope of practice. I do understand that you are in this industry because you care about people, so it can be easy to want to help your participants/clients even more, however there is a line that should not be crossed.

When you step outside of your scope of practice, you are actually breaching your duty of care for participants and this can lead to many issues for yourself, the participant and your business.

Your scope of practice is working with the participant as what you are professionally trained to do, so if you are a support worker, then in that scope, which is not a nurse, counsellor or support coordinator. Whilst I hear from many support workers that they feel more like the support coordinator and are doing jobs the support coordinator should be, it does not mean you understand the complete role unless you have done it, as with your previous boss there is a lot going on behind the scenes that you may not be aware of.

Duty of care also extends into ensuring that you are documenting each shift with your participant and doing so in an objective way, not making assumptions or adding in your emotions, they are to be Subjective - related to participants status eg Billy states he was awake all night or Billy states that he is upset, Objective - what you observed, which is quantizable and measurable information . eg: Billy appeared to sleep all night. or Billy has a red spot on his left arm or Billy was sitting in the corner rocking back and forth for 30 minutes at the beginning of my shift. This information includes how the person looks, what you noticed.

Action; the actions that you took with or for the participant.

Plan where appropriate for the participant.

Its also important to put the date and time of writing the progress notes and this should occur after the shift finishes. They should not be able to be adapted at all and your name and qualification should be present on these notes.


It's important to be accountable in everything that you do as part of your business.

Do you know what a reportable incident is? Do you know how to complete a risk assessment, incident form?

Do you know who to report a minor incident to and what supporting evidence you require?

Do you document every shift and understand the importance of this?

I know I have asked many questions however it is important that you know the answer to these.

When it comes to accountability understanding how to invoice a participant is important. I have this saying "Just because you can doesn't mean you should!" Yes there is a maximum rate you can charge in the price arrangement, however not all participants can afford this higher fee and it makes harder for them to get the complete support if they are restricted in the hours of support because someone is charging the maximum rate, when a lower rate can mean they have an extra couple of hours of support a week.

When it comes to the hours of support many participants have short shifts and some require some support for an hour a twice a week which makes a huge difference to their life, so please consider being flexible as a sole trader and practical when it comes to the hours you work. You will find that eventually it will work out.


Working for yourself is rewarding, working with participants and helping them to live their life with some support is also rewarding. Its important though to set up properly and this includes having all your documents and using them properly.

Its important to understanding the sector and also be careful what you put out there on social media. While there are people like myself there that can answer many questions, there is also many people that will tell you, that you don't need to be qualified or understand NDIS or have documents at all and while that maybe working for them right now in the long run it won't.

Take your time, consider all your options and check in with the people who you are seeking advice from. I have over 35 years experience in health and disability sector. I have what happens when things go wrong.

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