A virtual reality training initiative for disability support workers is being piloted at Wodonga TAFE, ahead of a statewide roll-out.
Through the technology, students' responses will elicit different behaviours from an avatar, which has been informed by consumers and industry leaders.
VR headsets, podcasts and the training program have been created with $1.5 million from the Victorian government.
Wodonga TAFE community services and health department manager Fiona Maher said the project began in 2018.
"Ermha365, which is a psychosocial disability service that works with quite complex clients throughout Victoria, approached us with Mental Health Victoria, to look at ways we could support the psychosocial disability workforce," she said.
"With the NDIS coming out, they had a need for a number of workers and were struggling to find workers with suitable qualifications and skills to be able to go out and support people.
"We got together and applied for some Victorian state government funding.
"Now we're at the stage where we start to pilot the product."
Fifteen podcasts have been created, along with training videos and "state-of-the-art" VR simulations.
Department team leader Julie Fry said it would enhance students' learning, with a goal to also offer such training to industry.
"What ermha has done is use the voice of people with psychosocial disability to help them script VR avatars that are very real," she said.
"Our students can actually be in a real-life situation, and using their words will escalate or de-escalate, resulting in a real response.
"The most recent statistics in Australia show that a large population of people who have a range of disabilities experience psychosocial disability."
Ms Maher said Wodonga TAFE trainers worked with the two project partners in designing the program.
"Local industry also had some input into scenarios," she said.
"Once we've gone through the pilot, an evaluation will occur ... and it will got to all Victorian TAFEs."
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There has been an increase in enrolments in the certificate four in disability, included in the free TAFE initiative, and Dr Fry said students were being better equipped.
"I think the biggest change (in the industry) is recognising that the average disability support worker is ... working with complex needs," she said.
"So overlaying our disability support course with training in psychosocial disability, is it just gives that extra inch to the workforce out there."
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