Support workers and their organisations
Support workers work in services that provide direct support to your community, e.g. rural and indigenous services, crisis centres, disability services, health, legal, parenting, relationship, aged care and child services, job centres, youth, and families services (http://www.communities.qld.gov.au).
Many of these services are provided by non-government or community organisations. Often these organisations need to apply for funding from both government and non-government sources so they can offer their services to your community.
When organisations obtain funding to provide services, they must then follow funding guidelines laid down by the funding source, e.g. a government department such as the Department of Communities, when providing services.
For example, review the following funding guidelines:
- Regional Collocation Scheme funding guidelines from the WA Department of Local Government and Regional Development (http://www.dlgrd.wa.gov.au
- Disability Services Strategic Plan (2006–2010) Funding Guidelines from Disability Services Queensland Strategic Planhttp://www.disability.qld.gov.au/about/strategic-plan/2006-2010/documents/strategic-plan-2006.pdf.
Types of service your organisation delivers
The type of services offered by organisations varies according to the needs of the local target community, the mission statement of the organisation, and of course the funding guidelines under which the organisation works. Services provided include:
- indigenous learning support
- homelessness services
- community recreation activities
- aged care
- child care
- disaster relief and recovery management
- suicide prevention
- crime prevention
- counselling services
- disability services
- juvenile justice centres.
The make-up of service work teams
Your work team/group includes others with whom you work in order to meet the needs of clients. Your work team/group or staff/team meetings would provide support in your work- these are generally colleagues in the same office, service/program area- through daily interaction, collaboration and team/staff meetings.
There may be a specific reference group/committee to guide some areas of work in an organisation (usually project work or particular work areas, say training) that could include other parties, eg government representatives, client/consumer groups and other relevant stakeholders- such as the list below.
- social workers
- health workers
- community members
As a support worker, you may be part of a wider network of stakeholders. This broader network could include:
- workers or colleagues from other sections of the same organisation
- representatives from government and non-government bodies
- representatives from specialised and non-specialised agencies.
In attempting to meet the needs of clients and their community, support workers should maintain effective relationships with other workers from both their immediate team and representatives from their wider networks.
Your role in the organisation
Being aware of the overall structure of your organisation will assist you to better understand your role in the organisation. Within most organisations there are three levels of responsibility. These are overall management, day-to-day management and service provider.
Your role as a support worker will be defined by your job description. This contains a list of duties and responsibilities and outlines the specific skills, knowledge, attributes and qualifications you are required to demonstrate.
To ensure that you are clear about your role in your organisation, you should consult your job description. You may need to clarify your employer’s expectations and you do need to know how your performance will be measured (e.g. formal performance appraisal).
View examples of duty statements for support workers:
- job description – Community development worker
- job description – Trainee in community work
- job description – Family support worker
- job description – Community sector development administration support
- job description – Youth housing support worker
The following activity will help you understand how to read a job description and understand your role within the organisation. This activity will also assist you to identify the criteria your supervisor will use to assess your performance.
Activity 1.2: Performance appraisal