Chairman & Managing Director Report

Independence Australia is a social enterprise that provides choices for people living with a disability or other personal need, enabling them to regain or retain their independence within a supportive community.

Despite the ongoing challenges presented by the global pandemic over the past year, the organisation has continued to deliver safe and reliable core disability supports, health and wellbeing products and mobility aids to assist people in their daily lives, supported by our social enterprise which continues to provide much needed financial support.

During the year we provided almost half a million hours of community and residential care services and supported hundreds more people living with a disability through our specialist psychology and counselling, support coordination and peer support services.

We extended our disability support services to NSW with the launch of our support coordination and attendant care services in Western Sydney and we introduced a new specialist support coordination service to ensure continuity of supports for people living with a disability facing additional challenges such as family breakdown, contact with the justice system and risk of homelessness. In partnership with our mobility aids and equipment arm, Mobility Aids Australia, the service team launched Independence Australia’s occupational therapy service, linking our customers to customised solutions to maximise their independence.

The psychology and counselling service expanded its telehealth model to increase access for people who need it most during these challenging times. The team worked with over 100 customers to ensure they had the technology required to access services remotely during the pandemic, increasing one-to-one counselling sessions by 55% and extending health and wellbeing groups to provide new opportunities for our customers to connect with others online, reducing the negative effects of social isolation and loneliness.

The Transport Accident Commission continued their generous sponsorship of our SpinChat program that raises awareness, educates and promotes spinal cord injury prevention. This year the program reached over 1,550 secondary students, supported by the launch of SpinChat Online which enabled schools to access the educational sessions during school closures and lockdowns associated with the pandemic.
Our social impact project, ‘Independence and disability: maximising impact and NDIS outcomes for disability service users’ undertaken in collaboration with Swinburne University of Technology has been developing an online Research Hub to share key research findings and identified opportunities to address the challenges faced by our customers in their day-to-day lives and enhance the impact of the services we provide.
We are also very proud to be the only NDIS certified service provider to deliver both community-based supports and healthcare products and equipment to people living with a disability in the Victorian community.

We pride ourselves on offering great value, reliable service and exceptional choice from our wide range of 12,000 health care products. Over the past year our national social enterprise delivered over half a million orders to our customers across Australia. This year, with the support of our industry partners, we were pleased to deliver a modified schedule of our flagship Education Day events, providing specialist education programs and networking opportunities to healthcare professionals from metropolitan and regional New South Wales, South Australia and Tasmania despite the challenges we all faced

We were also thrilled that our social enterprise retained the contract for the National Epidermolysis Bullosa Dressing Scheme (NEBDS) delivered on behalf of the Commonwealth Department of Health. We completed our re-certification audit against the ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System and became one the first disability service providers in Victoria to fully transition to the NDIS Practice Standards with the successful completion of our Stage 2 Audit. We consider our NDIS certification to be a testament to our ongoing commitment to the quality and safeguarding of the supports we provide to our customers.

The Board and Executive Management Team would like to express their appreciation to our partners, including the Transport Accident Commission, Victorian Department of Families, Fairness and Housing., Federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs, Commonwealth Department of Health, National Disability Insurance Agency, Western Australian Department of Communities, Queensland Health, Ballarat Health Services 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 needs, enabling them to regain and retain their independence within a supportive community.