What is a Developmental Educator?

Developmental Educators are multi-disciplinary disability specialists with expertise in fostering the skills, independence and quality of life of individuals with developmental and/or acquired disabilities. As allied health professionals, Developmental Educators (also referred to as DE’s) have a practical approach and work holistically across the life span to address issues which may affect the function, independence and social inclusion of individuals with disability, their families and carers.

Developmental Educators implement and develop methodologies that enable the application of effective strategies to support the individual developmental learning goals of people who experience challenges such as acquired brain injury, physical and neurological disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disability, and other disabilities. Developmental Educators also work closely with families and caregivers, and other allied health professionals who may be involved in the support of an individual.

What are the core competencies of Developmental Educators?

What training do Developmental Educators need?
All Developmental Educators complete a university Bachelor or Master level qualification in Disability Studies. In South Australia, Disability and Community Inclusion at Flinders University offers disability and developmental education studies (including Bachelor, Honours, Graduate Certificate, and Masters studies). Universities across Australia also offer postgraduate disability studies. The DEAI assesses these qualifications for eligibility for membership.

What services do Developmental Educators provide?
  • Promoting the physical and emotional well-being of people with disabilities
  • Undertaking developmental and functional behavioural assessment
  • Developing and implementing positive behaviour support programs
  • Teaching functional life skills including social, communication, self-care, daily living, recreation, and employment
  • Providing case management, specialist support coordination, and counselling supports to people with disabilities
  • Assisting people with a disability to set and attain individual goals
  • Working and liaising with families, service providers, allied health professionals, and community members to enhance the choice, social inclusion and quality of life for people with disability
  • Facilitating self-advocacy and / or advocate on behalf of people with disabilities
  • Supporting individuals with disabilities to transition to, access and maintain meaningful vocational experiences
  • Helping families, caregivers and individuals with disability understand the impact of disability on a person’s daily functioning
Where are Developmental Educators employed?
Developmental Educators are employed in state and commonwealth government and non-government agencies providing disability services. They are also self-employed, for example as sole providers with or without National Disability insurance Scheme (NDIS) registration. To find a sole provider Developmental Educator, visit the Find a Developmental Educator page.

Potential occupations/roles include: Developmental Educator, skills trainer, behaviour intervention specialist/consultant/practitioner, program coordinator, case manager, specialists support coordinator, respite coordinator, leisure and recreation coordinator, early intervention worker/coordinator, disability employment officer, employment consultant, disability liaison officer, planner, plan manager, community development worker, administrator, policy developer, project officer, researcher, manager.

A short video explaining the profession of Developmental Education was developed by Disability and Community Inclusion at Flinders University, which can be viewed below:

The DEAI has a brochure to promote the skills of a Developmental Educator; this can be used to provide to families, participants, Support Coordinators, Planners and other professionals to assist with their understanding of the role of a Developmental Educator (print double sided on the short side to create a bifold brochure).