Disability workforce

Inclusion and participation in the workplace

Our research examines a wide range of workforce initiatives to explore knowledge and skill development, models of service delivery and options for building community capacity.

Current projects



Researchers from the University of Sydney Centre for Disability Research and Policy, in collaboration with researchers from Monash University and Western Sydney University, partnered with Reimagine Australia to conduct a national survey to explore the experience of using telepractice to provide early childhood intervention and support.

The survey captured the experiences of 259 early childhood practitioners who were using telepractice as part of their service delivery. The information gathered from the survey forms part of a broader initiative that aims to strengthen public policy and enable workforce development by promoting the use of telepractice to the government. The first journal article, titled Early childhood practitioners experience of telepractice and its alignment with a family-centred approach is currently under review at the Journal of Child and Family Studies.

As part of the knowledge translation, the team has also created a practice companion on family centred telepractice titled Ready, Tele, Go!


For further information about the project refer to the resources above or contact kim.bulkeley@sydney.edu.au




  • Dr Kim Bulkeley, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney
  • Dr Genevieve Johnsson, Centre for Disability Research and Policy, University of Sydney
  • Dr Anoo Bhopti, Monash University
  • Jenna Bongioletti, University of Sydney
  • Dr Joanne Hinitt, University of Sydney
  • Associate Professor Christine Johnston, Western Sydney University


This project led by Dr Monique Hines was funded by a $21,120 grant from the auDA Foundation in 2016-2017. In partnership with TherapyConnect, a private multidisciplinary telepractice service in rural NSW and Victoria, a small trial of telepractice with four children with complex disabilities was evaluated. The project team included Professor Michelle Lincoln, Dr Kim Bulkeley, Ms Simone Dudley and Ms Sue Cameron. For further information about the project refer to the resources below or contact kim.bulkeley@sydney.edu.au

Publication: Hines, M., Bulkeley, K., Dudley, S., Cameron, S., Lincoln, M., (2019) Delivering Quality Allied Health Services to Children with Complex Disability via Telepractice: Lessons Learned from Four Case StudiesJournal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities doi./10.1007/s10882-019-09662-8

Telepractice myths - a video about the telepractice as choice for disability services.


Aboriginal workforce

The objective of this project is to uncover the factors that influence the retention of frontline Aboriginal workers in the health, ageing, and disability workforce in NSW who do not have university qualifications.

For more information on the project or to find out how you can share your experience from the perspective of an employee or employer, please read our flyer. Or alternatively, please email john.gilroy@sydney.edu.au or folau.talbot@sydney.edu.au for more information. 

Background to the Retention of the Aboriginal Health, Ageing and Disability Workforce Project.


Delegated Practice Research

The roll out of the NDIS in June 2018 in far west NSW presents both challenges and opportunities for disability service providers. MacKillop Family Services has been supporting small rural and remote communities in this area for many years and are seeking to build on their commitment to, and experience in, engaging with communities to adapt to the changing NDIS market and shift to individualised funding. In partnership with the University of Sydney, MacKillop Family Services are developing two models of service delivery to support people with disabilities and their communities that incorporate therapy support workers in remote communities, tele-practice and community development. These projects will be evaluated to understand the work carried out by the MacKillop Aboriginal therapy support workers, building an evidence base and identifying the factors that contribute to the success of these roles in supporting people with a disability and their communities.

Project 1: Community support – Contact Dr Rebecca Barton

This service model involves:

  • Running parent support groups, community meetings and community hubs.
  • Delivering tele-practice together with local staff to help people with disability and their families have the information they need to make decisions and choices and to connect with mainstream services.

This project is funded by an Information, Linkages and Capacity Building grant from the NDIA, 2018-2020.

Project 2: Individual service delivery – contact Dr Kim Bulkeley

This service model involves employing, training and mentoring Aboriginal staff and developing connections with Aboriginal organisations. It also involves providing teletherapy and creating partnerships with allied health professionals. An overarching aim of this service model is to support Aboriginal people with disability to participate in the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

This project is funded by the NSW Department of Industry – Disability Sector Scale-Up Business Acceleration Grants, 2018-2020.

Therapy Assistant Rural Workforce Development research report (pdf, 11.1 MB)

Dr Kim Bulkeley is partnering with Dr Genevieve Johnsson from ASPECT (Autism Spectrum Australia) on a Jobs and Market Fund project for 18 months from January 2020-July 2021 exploring the therapy assistant model in four rural and remote communities. The project is in two phases.

Phase one is the development of a disability focused therapy assistant governance framework. The framework will be informed by a partnership with Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH) to complete a scoping review on therapy assistant models in the disability sector.   Interviews with industry stakeholders who are delivering therapy assistant supports with NDIS participants will identify local and sector specific factors to be included in the framework which will be refined using a modified Delphi approach.

Phase two will focus on impacts of the delivery of therapy assistant supports by ASPECT staff in four remote communities from the perspective of: NDIS participants using photo elicitation; therapy assistants using experience sampling; stakeholders in the delivery of services using semi structured interviews; and a cost benefit analysis.

For further information on ASPECTs therapy assistant work visit: https://www.autismspectrum.org.au/allied-health-assistants

In July 2017 National Disability Services (NDS) received funds through the NDIS Sector Development Fund to implement a project aimed at increasing supply of the allied health workforce in regional and remote areas of Tasmania. As part of this project, NDS sub-contracted Dr Kim Bulkeley and Professor Michelle Lincoln to provide expert guidance and evaluation of a training approach to expand the allied health assistant model. 

The focus of the project was the evaluation of the allied health assistant skill set training program which was run in 2018. This was done using an online survey and semi-structured interviews with learners, their employers and relevant allied health professionals. This research will contribute to the evidence base on allied health assistants and help identify learnings and promising directions for the employment of AHAs in the future. For further information contact kim.bulkeley@sydney.edu.au

The Poche Centre for Indigenous Health funded a program of research and engagement with communities in North West NSW to explore allied health service delivery for Aboriginal children. Dr Kim Bulkeley has been leading this research, collaborating with a large team within the University as well as the communities in northwest NSW. Kim has also encouraged the involvement of Sydney School of Health Sciences students, both honours and masters, in generating focused research projects as part of their final year of study.

The video below is a brief summary of a student project completed by Claire Dickson in 2016, exploring the emerging role of Aboriginal allied health assistants:

Aboriginal allied health assistants working in remote northwest NSW

Rural and remote disability services

The Wobbly Hub Rural Research Team (WHRRT) was a network of researchers dedicated to improving the lives of people with disabilities and their carers living in rural and remote Australia. The WHRRT has built a significant body of work around allied health service delivery for people with a disability in rural and remote areas. The summary documents from that work are linked below acknowledging the contribution of a wide range of colleagues who have worked on these projects that inform the rural disability workforce discourse.  

Remote keyworker early childhood intervention, Broken Hill

In mid-2013, Silverlea Early Childhood Service (SECS) and Novita Children’s Services received funding from New South Wales Family and Community Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) Western Region to conduct a therapy pilot project funded under the Strengthening Children 0-8 Years Strategy. The Wobbly Hub team worked with SECS to evaluate the pilot over a 12 month period.

Inclusion in early childhood intervention, Deniliquin

In mid-2013, Intereach received funding from New South Wales (NSW) Family and Community Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), (then) Western Region to conduct a 12 month Therapy Access Project (TAP) funded under the Strengthening Children 0-8 Years Strategy. The stated dual aims of the TAP pilot were to promote the inclusion of the children in mainstream, community settings and, through individual goals, work towards a smooth transition to early childhood settings and school.

Ready, set...go! therapy pilot project, Mudgee

In early 2013, a consortium of private therapists and early childhood educators in Mudgee received funding from New South Wales (NSW) Family and Community Services, Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC), (then) Western Region to conduct a therapy pilot project funded under the Strengthening Children 0-8 Years Strategy. This therapy pilot project built on and extended the previous Ready, Set…Go! model rolled out in 2011 and 2012. The consortium’s proposal was to work with a broad range of mainstream services to provide therapy services to children (0-8 years). The aim was to deliver therapy supports in community settings to enhance the inclusion and participation of children within their family and community life.

Capacity building early intervention approach, Dubbo

In July 2013, Orana Early Childhood Intervention (OECI) service in Dubbo received funding from New South Wales (NSW) Family and Community Services, Ageing Disability and Home Care (ADHC), Western Region to conduct a 12 month pilot project funded under the Strengthening Children 0-8 Years Strategy. The project was known as the Orana Capacity Building Project. The aim of the project was to train mainstream childcare staff in four early childhood centres in Dubbo and surrounding areas to identify and include children with developmental delay and disability in their centres. 

Aboriginal therapy support workers

Approach: Using creative local solutions, MacKillop employed four women from each of four remote communities in North West NSW to work as part time Therapy Support Workers (TSW). The TSWs connected with outreach therapists to provide therapy support to the children within mainstream services such as playgroups, child care settings, preschools and schools. Priority was given to Aboriginal children and their families and all children/families were existing clients of MacKillop Rural Services.

Outcomes: Over the 12 month period, 56 children participated in the therapy pilot project across the four towns. Individual children made good progress against their goals. The pilot project was successful in building capacity in children and families and in preparing them to transition to preschool and school. Ongoing work is required with outreach therapists and educational settings to embed the TSW model with existing services to ensure the best outcomes for children with developmental concerns accessing mainstream settings in remote communities. The local and culturally appropriate attributes of the TSWs were seen by all stakeholders as key to the pilot’s success and ongoing funding.

Literature review: strengthening supports for chilren and families 0-8 years strategy

Aim: Review the literature related to The Strengthening Supports for Children and Families 0-8 Years Strategy. The review was commissioned by the New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services (FACS): Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC). Consistent with the international, national and state policy context and discourse, ADHC’s strategy encourages the inclusion of young children with disabilities and their families in mainstream settings.

A systematic review of the literature on interventions provided in mainstream settings for children with disabilities aged 0 to 8 years and their families. The focus of the review was on inclusion-based approaches to delivering services in mainstream settings.  There is a paucity of research reporting on/evaluating the effectiveness of inclusion-based approaches. Research is further limited in terms of quality and depth in any given area.

On the basis of the findings of the current review, more research is required documenting details about the implementation of inclusion-based interventions, in particular multidisciplinary and family-centred practices, and evaluating the impacts of these interventions on the inclusion and participation of children with disabilities.

Publication: Dew, A., de Bortoli, T., Brentnall, J., Bundy, A. (2014) Strengthening Supports for Children 0-8 and their Families: A Literature Review. New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services: Ageing, Disability and Home Care. Sydney, Australia.


Gallego, G., Dew, A., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., Bulkeley, K., Brentnall, J., & Veitch, C. (2018). Carers’ preferences for the delivery of therapy services for people with disability in rural Australia: evidence from a discrete choice experiment. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research. 62(5), 371-381. doi: 10.1111/jir.12469

Gwynne, K., Jeffries, T., & Lincoln, M. (2018). Improving the efficacy of healthcare services for Aboriginal Australians. Australian Health Review. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1071/AH17142.


Dew, A. & Boydell, K. M. (2017). Knowledge translation: bridging the disability research-to-practice gap. Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 4(2), 142-157. DOI: 10.1080/23297018.2017.1315610.

Hines, M., Bulkeley, K., Lincoln, M., Cameron, S., & Dudley, S. (2017). Telepractice for children with complex disability: Guidelines for quality allied health services. Lidcombe: University of Sydney.

Boydell, K., Dew, A., Hodgins, M., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., Gallego, G., . . . Willis, D. (2017). Deliberative dialogues between policy makers and researchers in Canada and Australia. Journal of Disability Policy Studies, 28(1), 13-22. Doi: 10.1177/1044207317694840.

Fairweather, G., Lincoln, M., & Ramsden, R. (2017). Speech-language pathology telehealth in rural and remote schools: the experience of school executive and therapy assistants. Rural and Remote Health, 17: 4225. doi: 10.22605/RRH4225. www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.3109/17549507.2016.1143973

Freckmann, A., Hines, M., & Lincoln, M. (2017). Clinicians’ perspectives of therapeutic alliance in face-to-face and telepractice speech-language pathology sessions. International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 19(3), 287-296. doi:10.1080/17549507.2017.1292547

Gallego, G., Dew, A., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., Chedid, R., Bulkeley, K., . . . Veitch, C. (2017). Access to therapy services for people with disability in rural Australia: A carers' perspective. Health and Social Care in the Community, 25(3), 1000-1010. doi:10.1111/hsc.12399

Gwynne, K., & Lincoln, M. (2017). Developing the rural health workforce to improve Australian Aboriginal health outcomes: a systematic review. Australian Health Review, 41(2), 234-238. doi:10.1071/AH15241 

Gwynne, K., McCowen, D., Cripps, S., Lincoln, M., Irving, M., & Blinkhorn, A. (2017). A comparison of two models of dental care for Aboriginal communities in New South Wales. Australian Dental Journal, 62(2), 208-214. doi:10.1111/adj.12496 


Dew, A., Barton, R., Ragen, J., Bulkeley, K., Iljadica, A., Chedid, R., . . . Veitch, C. (2016). The development of a framework for high-quality, sustainable and accessible rural private therapy under the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme. Disability and Rehabilitation, 38(25). 2491-2503. doi:10.3109/09638288.2015.1129452 

Gallego, G., Chedid, R., Dew, A., Bulkeley, K., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., . . . Veitch, C. (2016). Private practice disability therapy workforce in rural New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Allied Health, 45(3). 225-229. 

Gardner, K., Bundy, A., & Dew, A. (2016). Perspectives of rural carers on benefits and barriers of receiving occupational therapy via Information and Communication Technologies. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 63(2). 117-122. doi:10.1111/1440-1630.12256 

Gilroy, J., Dew, A., Lincoln, M., & Hines, M. (2016). Need for an Australian Indigenous disability workforce strategy: Review of the literature. Disability and Rehabilitation, 39(16), 1664-1673. doi:10.1080/09638288.2016.1201151 

Gilroy, J., & Donelly, M. (2016). Australian Indigenous people with disability: Ethics and standpoint theory. In S. Grech & K. Soldatic (Eds.), Disability in the Global South: The Critical Handbook (pp. 545-567). Switzerland: Springer.

Gilroy, J., Donelly, M., Colmar, S., & Parmenter, T. (2016). Twelve factors that can influence the participation of Aboriginal people in disability services. Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin, 16(1). 1-9. 

Gilroy, J., & Emerson, E. (2016). Australian indigenous children with low cognitive ability: Family and cultural participation. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 56. 117-127. doi:10.1016/j.ridd.2016.05.011 

Hines, M., & Lincoln, M. (2016). Boosting the recruitment and retention of new graduate speech-language pathologists for the disability workforce. Journal of Clinical Practice in Speech-Language Pathology, 18(2). 50-54.  

Johnsson, G., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., & Costley, D. (2016). A systematic review of technology-delivered disability training and support for service providers: implications for rural and remote communities. Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 3(4). 387-398. doi:10.1007/s40489-016-0091-z 

Thomas, D., McCabe, P., & Lincoln, M. (2016). Telehealth delivery of Rapid Syllable Transitions (ReST) treatment for childhood apraxia of speech. International Journal of Speech Language Pathology, 51(6). 654-671. doi:10.1111/1460-6984.12238 


Gallego, G., Chedid, R. J., Dew, A., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., Veitch, C., . . . Brentnall, J. (2015). Who are they and what do they do? Profile of allied health professionals working with people with disabilities in rural and remote New South Wales. Australian Journal of Rural Health, 23(4). 227-234. doi:10.1111/ajr.12163 

Gallego, G., Dew, A., Bulkeley, K., Veitch, C., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., & Brentnall, J. (2015). Factors affecting retention of allied health professionals working with people with disability in rural New South Wales, Australia: Discrete choice experiment questionnaire development. Human Resources for Health, 13(1). doi:10.1186/s12960-015-0013-7 

Gallego, G., Dew, A., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., Chedid, R. J., Bulkeley, K., . . . Veitch, C. (2015). Should I stay or should I go? Exploring the job preferences of allied health professionals working with people with disability in rural Australia doi:. Human Resources for Health, 13(1). 53. doi:10.1186/s12960-015-0047-x 

Hines, M., Lincoln, M., Ramsden, R., Martinovich, J., & Fairweather, C. (2015). Speech pathologists’ perspectives on transitioning to telepractice: What factors promote acceptance? Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare, 21(8). 469-473. doi:10.1177/1357633X15604555 


Dew, A., Bulkeley, K., Veitch, C., Bundy, A., Lincoln, M., Glenn, H., . . . Brentnall, J. (2014). Local therapy facilitators working with children with developmental disability in rural and remote areas of western New South Wales, Australia: the ‘Outback’ service delivery model. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 49(3). 309-328.  

Dew, A., de Bortoli, T., Brentnall, J., & Bundy, A. (2014). Strengthening Supports for Children 0-8 and their Families: A Literature Review. . Sydney, Australia: New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services; Ageing, Disability and Home Care. 

Dew, A., Gallego, G., Bulkeley, K., Veitch, C., Brentnall, J., Lincoln, M., . . . Griffiths, S. (2014). Policy development and implementation for disability services in rural New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities, 11(3). 200-209. doi:10.1111/jppi.12088 

Dew, A., Happ, V., Bulkeley, K., Bundy, A., Lincoln, M., Gallego, G., . . . Veitch, C. (2014). Rural carers of people with disability: Making choices to move or to stay. Research and Practice in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, 1(1). 60-70. doi:10.1080/23297018.2014.908481 

Lincoln, M., Hines, M., Fairweather, C., Ramsden, R., & Martinovich, J. (2014). Multiple stakeholder perspectives on teletherapy delivery of speech pathology services in rural schools: a preliminary qualitative investigation. International Journal of Telerehabilitation, 6(2). 65-74. doi:10.5195/IJT.2014.6155 


Chedid, R., Dew, A., & Veitch, C. (2013). Barriers to the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by occupational therapists working in rural and remote areas of NSW, Australia. Australian Journal of Occupational Therapy, 60(3). 197-205. doi:10.1111/1440-1630.12016 

Dew, A., Bulkeley, K., Veitch, C., Bundy, A., Gallego, G., Lincoln, M., . . . Griffiths, S. (2013). Addressing the barriers to accessing therapy services in rural and remote areas. Disability and Rehabilitation, 35(18). 1564-1570. doi:10.3109/09638288.2012.720346 

Dew, A., Bulkeley, K., Veitch, C., Bundy, A., Lincoln, M., Brentnall, J., . . . Griffiths, S. (2013). Carer and service providers’ experiences of individual funding models for children with a disability in rural and remote areas. Health and Social Care in the Community, 21(4). 432-441. doi:10.1111/hsc.12032 

Lincoln, M., Gallego, G., Dew, A., Bulkeley, K., Veitch, C., Bundy, A., . . . Griffiths, S. (2013). Recruitment and retention of allied health professionals in the disability sector in rural and remote New South Wales, Australia. Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 39(1). 86-97. doi:10.3109/13668250.2013.861393 


Dew, A., Veitch, C., Lincoln, M., Brentnall, J., Bulkeley, K., Gallego, G., . . . Griffiths, S. (2012). The need for new models for delivery of therapy intervention to people with a disability in rural and remote areas of Australia. Journal of Intellectual & Developmental Disability, 37(1). 50-53. doi:10.3109/13668250.2011.644269 

Veitch, C., Dew, A., Bulkeley, K., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., Gallego, G., & Griffiths, S. (2012). Issues affecting therapist workforce and service delivery in the disability sector in rural and remote New South Wales, Australia: perspectives of policy-makers, managers and senior therapists. Rural and Remote Health, 12. 1903. 

Veitch, C., Lincoln, M., Bundy, A., Gallego, G., Dew, A., & Bulkeley, K. (2012). Integrating evidence into policy and sustainable disability services delivery in western New South Wales, Australia: the 'wobbly hub and double spokes' project. BMC Health Services Research, 12(70). doi:10.1186/1472-6963-12-70