Chairman & Managing Director’s Report
Independence Australia provides people living with a disability or other personal need choice and control about how they live their lives. In addition to our core services providing in-home attendant care, customers can choose from a comprehensive range of flexible supports, health-related products and assistive technology solutions.
We have a unique social enterprise approach that leverages related commercial activities to support the core charitable purpose. As a result, Independence Australia is the only NDIS provider in Victoria to offer both core supports and health care consumables to NDIS participants.
As the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) continues, the Community Services team supported 97 per cent of our eligible in-home service customers to transition to the Scheme.
During the year we extended our service offering with the launch of a new customer service model for complex care and the rollout of several new services including the specialist Positive Behavioural Support Service. This new service provides flexible supports to NDIS participants minimising the need for restrictive practices that may impact their daily lives.
We strengthened our partnerships with tertiary institutions to deliver unfunded services to customers in need. Our Social Work Master’s Students Program, delivered in partnership with the University of Melbourne, enabled us to deliver vital Case Management services to customers with limited or no funding as they transitioned to the NDIS.
In partnership with Swinburne University of Technology and Victoria University, Independence Australia’s highly successful Counselling & Psychology Service student placement program delivered more than 100 individual and group mental health service sessions to people living with a disability who have exhausted their Medicare funding and may not have been able to continue therapy without this much needed program.
We were delighted to be selected as a recipient of the NDIS Information, Linkages and Capacity Building National Readiness Grant, enabling us to extend the reach of our Inform magazine through the production of podcasts and a national online information hub to assist people living with a disability to connect with vital services and supports within their communities.
Our social enterprise provides much needed financial support for the core charitable purpose. Income generated from the sale of healthcare products, mobility aids and equipment is directly invested back into our services to support people with a disability or other physical need. Despite strong competition in the market place, we have grown our customer base, strengthening our reputation as one of the leading social enterprises in the Australian disability services sector.
We were pleased to extend support for Australian’s living with Epidermolysis Bullosa, through the administration of the National Epidermolysis Bullosa Dressing Scheme (NEBDS) on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health.
We have worked closely with a range of stakeholders, and in collaboration with key industry partners we have grown the scale and reach of the highly successful Education Days program. These events have delivered industry insights, networking opportunities and the latest product information to healthcare professionals in Victoria for many years, and more recently in Tasmania. We were therefore very pleased to host the inaugural interstate Education Days in New South Wales and Queensland during the year.
Independence Australia’s training organisation, Field, continued its focus on the delivery of training solutions for the health and community care sectors.
In response to the convergence of the disability and aged care workforce, Field launched its new dual qualifications in Ageing Support, Disability and Leisure & Health to optimise graduate employment outcomes. With a focus on enhancing student experiences to improve the quality of student learning and employment outcomes, Field achieved high levels of student engagement and completion rates 18 per cent above the Victoria state average, with more than 50 per cent of students being offered employment in their field of study prior to course completion.
We are proud to be the only large Victorian disability service provider to offer real time, contextualised, internal workforce training and development for our disability service workforce. Through Field, we are able to strengthen workforce capability, up-skilling and cross-skilling our staff to ensure that they have the skill sets required to deliver safe, quality supports to our customers. In 2018, this included the delivery of a suite of compliance training programs to more than 480 direct support workers.
As a large, growing organisation that touches the daily lives of many people across Australia, there were many other highlights throughout the year including:
- The launch of a new online outcome measurement tool for NDIS participants
- The design and implementation of a new NDIS pre-planning process
- The relocation of Field to a new modern training facility
- The annual Independence Australia Daddo Charity Golf Day, which ran for its 13th consecutive year, brought together industry partners and supporters to raise more than $60,000 to support unfunded programs such as the Psychology and Counselling service
- Successful certification against the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System and Department of Health & Human Services Human Services Standards.
The Board and Executive Management Team would like to express their appreciation to our partners, including the Transport Accident Commission, Victorian Department of Health and Human Services, Federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Commonwealth Department of Health, National Disability Insurance Agency, Western Australian Department of Communities, Ballarat Health Services, Queensland Health and various local governments and other community-based partner organisations.
We also extend our gratitude to the trusts, foundations, corporations and countless individuals for generously supporting our work over the past year. Our success is testament to the efforts of our entire team, who are committed to ensuring that we continue to support people living with a disability or other need enabling them to regain and retain their independence within a supportive community.