Inside Scoop: Zac's role and the essential work of our Intake Team

Zac Carriage with Melody Dexter

15 December 2023

Inside Scoop: Zac's role and the essential work of our Intake Team

We often shine a light on our incredible behaviour support practitioners, who change lives everyday, but today we’re putting the spotlight on a member of our Intake Team. Our Intake Team is a pivotal link in our organisation, connecting Australians with disability to the right PBS practitioner at Ability Consultants.

Today we’re catching up with Zac Carriage, who is based in the Illawarra region of New South Wales.

Meet Zac Carriage, Administration Assistant at Ability Consultants

Zac, thank you for your time today! Tell us about you!

Hi my name is Zac and I’m an Administration Assistant at Ability Consultants. I’m currently living in the Illawarra region.

Some of my hobbies include music production, DJing and exploring nature, where I sometimes record sounds to bring home and use in my production.

I’m also fond of a tennis racquet from time to time, I played competitively when I was younger but have slowed down of late.

I mostly spend my free time curating music and cooking new and exciting meals!

Why did you choose to work at Ability Consultants? What drew you to the role?

The key reason that drew me to this role was the person-centric care that I saw was offered to clients. This was a major factor for me as I had just spent some time in a sales role which was an eye-opening experience in terms of client care.

Being able to directly see the support we provide benefiting families and people is extremely heartwarming and I appreciate having the opportunity to put my soft skills to use.

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Working remotely in NSW

One of THE best parts of working at Ability Consultants is that our team is fully remote. All 130+ team members are 100% remote. What would you say are the best parts about working remotely?

A huge factor for me and others is purely convenience. No one has the time to be stuck in traffic during peak hour commutes, not to mention the financial savings by reducing commuting time.

We all have hobbies outside of work hours that we wish to pursue and being able to knock off and get straight into it after work is nothing short of a blessing.

I also love the flexibility to create a personalised and comfortable workspace. This helps me maintain a quieter and more focused environment

After work I like to relax and play online games with friends, watch movies and spend time with my housemates and fiancé.

Working remotely isn’t for everyone — can you tell us about the downsides?

Working remotely certainly has its benefits, however, it's also not without its challenges.

We rely heavily on digital communication tools, which may not always be as effective as face-to-face communication. Misunderstandings and misinterpretations can occur more easily, however, there’s nothing like a phone call to get to the bottom of it!

My home environment can often also be filled with distractions, from my screaming orange blur (Archibald the cat) to the ever-present, unfinished chores, however, I think it’s easy to become distracted in any space.

Where are you based and how does this affect your work at Ability Consultants?

I’ve always loved to live by the beach, I have my whole life. I currently reside in the Wollongong/Illawarra region, which for me, is the perfect mix of accessibility and coast life.

What works for you might be completely different to me, which is why you also have this opportunity to find your place and enjoy your zen!

In terms of the convenience this offers me, it’s more so about being in NSW itself. As we are a NSW-based organisation, I never have to worry about misinterpreting timezones and daylight savings which can affect meeting times and work hours.

In saying that, we have team members located in states all over Australia, and they simply adjust their work hours to meet NSW time (AEDT).

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Working on the Intake Team at Ability Consultants

What does a typical day on the Intake Team look like?

At the start of the day we sign in via a shared chat thread, say hello to everyone and give a brief explanation of our intentions for the day and other relevant events or obligations.

Depending on the day, you may have your weekly 1:1 meeting with your team leader to discuss your progress, goals and just generally catch up. We also have a fortnightly team meeting where all of the Intake Team get together and discuss pertinent subjects.

There are also various teamwide tasks which have shared, daily rotating responsibility, such as managing the team inbox and answering phone calls. These are split up into shifts and distributed as evenly as possible. New members of the Intake Team aren’t expected to do phone or inbox shifts at the start.

We like to keep the processing of referrals as simple as possible. There are different types of referrals and a new admin team member will begin with processing new referrals and repeat referrals, which are usually existing clients who have received an updated NDIS plan.

We try to process all referrals within seven days of receiving the referral, however during busy times, this can become challenging, as more referrals increases the probability of complex needs.

Our intake processes are well documented and easy to follow and we communicate with participants and their support team, draft a service agreement and then the participant will be placed on a waitlist to be connected with a practitioner, if no practitioner was assigned previously.

Each member of the intake team typically works on 30 to 40 referrals at a time, however, a new intaker will not be expected to immediately undertake this level of workload.

How does your work make a positive difference in people’s lives?

The NDIS is a vast, ever changing and thus confusing landscape to keep up with.

As we connect participants and families who, many times, have never engaged with life-changing PBS, demystifying the NDIS and their/our processes for participants so that they can receive support efficiently is necessary.

It’s important to understand this at all times. As your knowledge grows, you will know a lot of this information like the back of your hand. Keep in mind that almost everyone you interact with will not have the same level of patience and understanding as you, even the other external professionals you engage with.

Patience and compassion are key to making a positive interaction out of a stressful situation; remember that families are often overwhelmed in this space.

In saying that, we are all fallible and it is inevitable that you will encounter a head-scratching moment of your own making. My advice would be not to dwell on it, take your lesson from the moment and apply it to future situations.

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What other work do you do during the week on the Intake Team?

As mentioned, there are various responsibilities we all share during the week and through these, further tasks are presented that require action.

An example of this would be “Inbox day”. This is the place where all referrals, questions and requests to Ability Consultants are submitted, these are outside of your personal inbox. More often than not, it will require some level of interaction from you to make sure the right person gets the message or important information is added to a client’s referral so that the assigned team member knows and can act accordingly.

There will also be requests that come through via phone calls. These requests also vary, often they are from a participant’s support coordinator who is enquiring about our capacity in a region or just generally asking for more information about what we offer.

Each team member also contributes to the improvement of current processes within Intake and there are many Zones (areas of responsibility) that we can own as we become more proficient.

As an NDIS Provider, there are quite a few processes and a lot of changes to these processes over time. 

How do you make sure your work aligns with best practice and how do you stay up to date with the changes?

The NDIS being a vast and ever-changing landscape can not be understated here.

To keep up with this internally, we have a robust support system which is subject to frequent updates as the NDIS makes new information available, or we find a better way to achieve a goal.

This system consists of an “Intake Handbook” which outlines many of our processes from start to finish.

We also have online training videos that demystify sometimes vague and confusing topics.

All Intake Team members have access to an internal “Ask anything/FAQ’s” thread, where you can have the opportunity to ask informal questions to fellow teammates for a quick response.

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What kind of support is there for members of our Intake Team?

Teamwork makes the dream work. 

We, the intake/admin team, understand that our role can present obscure challenges and we are all here to support each other through these moments.

Person-centred support is the cornerstone of our approach in all interactions. We achieve this through compassionate communication, understanding and forward thinking.

As your skills and knowledge grow, you will likely take on more responsibilities, however, initially, it will likely consist of learning our systems, meeting people and being overwhelmed, but don't worry, that’s completely normal!

Applying to join the Intake Team at Ability Consultants

We’re currently hiring two Administrative Assistants to join our Intake Team. What are the top three characteristics or skills that you’ve seen in your colleagues that have helped them succeed in their roles?

The ability to adapt to change I think is the most important part of this role, as our processes evolve to become more efficient, these changes can often go unnoticed if you aren't taking notice of your digital surroundings. We are assisted with this through our internal documentation, which is updated regularly through discussion during our team meetings which gives you the chance to vocalise your experiences and make suggestions as to how we can improve.

Strong communication skills, both verbal and written, are extremely helpful. If you can articulate your thoughts clearly and convey information in a way that is easily understandable to others, you will reduce misunderstandings and save a lot of time for yourself.

Simply enough, I think having the opportunity to do all of the above in a way that works for you is a key aspect of why I love this role so much. Having fun with what you’re doing, being creative with your problem solving and sharing experiences with your teammates over Zoom video/audio calls is something that makes an isolated role seem not so solitary.

How to apply for our remote Administrative Assistant roles

As of today, we are hiring two remote Administrative Assistants, one full-time and one part or full-time. These are fully remote, permanent positions for individuals who are based in NSW. To find out more or apply, visit our Careers page and be sure to follow our application process.

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More information about careers at Ability Consultants

For more information about working on our team, please visit our Careers page, where we always post our open positions on the Intake Team as well as roles in psychology and Positive Behaviour Support.

Click here to learn more about Positive Behaviour Support and click here to learn about us.


Inside Scoop: Zac's role and the essential work of our Intake Team

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