Taking choice and control to the next level

Aruma participants are taking a seat at the interview table to help us hire the right staff!

June 17, 2024

Aruma, one of Australia’s largest disability providers, is opening a brand-new Specialist Disability Accommodation (SDA) home in Wangaratta, a rural city nestled in the northeast of Victoria.

With a new site comes new staff, and to make sure they’re hiring the best people for the job, NDIS participants have been sitting in on the interview panels.

“I felt quite honoured to be invited to the panel. When I came to Aruma, I was in a bad mental state, and it’s taken a hell of a long time and support, to get to this stage,” shared Aruma resident, Greg Higgs.

“I asked the candidates about their interests, as you can tell a lot about a person from that. Then, I asked how they would handle certain situations as it was important that they showed empathy. I think a good support worker knows how to be there without being there. I like knowing I can rely on my support worker when I need them, but they also give me independence and are not in my face,” said Greg.

Greg lives at the nearby Wodonga Supported Independent Living (SIL) home and his Manager of Shared Living, Sally Anthony, will also be managing the new home when it opens. She suggested the idea of having Greg on the panel to Aruma’s Talent Advisor, Camille Singh.

“Before joining Aruma, I had many years of experience recruiting in the public service, including public housing, child protection and disability services. I am experienced in attracting, recruiting, and retaining the right talent and believe a customer/participant’s perspective on the panel is vital in selecting and retaining the most suitable candidates,” said Sally.

According to the recent NDIS Review, in 2021-22 there were around 325,000 workers supporting NDIS participants. This number is expected to reach 453,000 by 2025.

Camille believes it was a fantastic initiative and hopes that it can help ensure the right people are in the right jobs.

“This initiative is just another example of how at Aruma, we put our customers first. We want to attract the best people for the job, and having a participant in the room with the candidate really enables us to envision how they will work together. I think it’s a great practice and all our sites should be doing this if they have a participant who wants to get involved,” said Camille.

Before the interviews took place, the candidates were also invited to the house for an open day/information session. They toured their potential workplace, learnt about Aruma, met Greg and heard about a day in the life from Greg’s Support Worker.

“Greg sat in on multiple interviews, but we couldn’t interview everyone in one day. In the following days, Aruma’s Human Rights Advisors, Elyce and James (who are also people with disability) lent a hand. You could really get a feel for people’s attitudes when there was a person with a disability in the room. Shockingly, there were people we interviewed who didn’t engage at all with Elyce, James or Greg. If they couldn’t engage in the interview, that tells us how they will act on the job,” shared Sally.

The process has paid off with Aruma sending eight offers of employment to candidates. Everything is on track for three NDIS participants to move into the new Wangaratta SIL home around mid-June.

A version of this story also featured on ShortList – Australian HR and recruitment industry magazine.