Tuesday 20 November 2018
Hansard of the Legislative Council

Able Australia

[11.31 a.m.]
Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, today I want to talk about disability.  As you know, from visiting the Tasmanian leaders program with the Tasmanian Community Fund yesterday at Dowsing Point -

Ms Forrest - The Emerging Community Leaders program.

Mr FINCH - Thank you.  I just wanted your involvement in my presentation today.  Thanks very much for that correction.  Also, at Parliament House last night, many people were talking about disability.  All of those 24 who graduated were from disability programs.  We were there to support Belinda Kitto from New Horizons, the sporting club for people with disability.  We hear more and more about disability.  I suppose that is partly because communities understand it as never before.  This is where I also get some other audience participation because when I look around this Chamber I see colleagues with fully functioning minds and bodies.  There is a slight chuckle from over this side but that will suffice.  Of course, that could change in an instant.  It only takes a road accident, a fall or a stroke and suddenly we cannot function as we did before.  We could be in need of a great deal of help, usually for the rest of our lives.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme - NDIS - is a great idea, but the transition for many providers is very challenging and drawn out.

One program I want to talk about today is Able Australia.  It is a diverse, not-for-profit organisation that started more than 50 years ago providing services to people with deafblindness.  It has grown to provide quite a range of services across Australia, including in-home support, community-based services and support coordination.  Able Australia will transition all its services to the NDIS, but in the meantime it has a three-year strategic priorities plan that includes -

  • to improve the quality of our services, including compliance to safeguard our clients

  • to retain and strengthen our knowledge and practices supporting deafblind clients

  • to build better engagement with all clients, their families, their staff and the broader community

  • to expand services to more individuals within a financially sustainable model.

Able Australia operates from two main hubs in Tasmania.  One is in Hobart and one is in Launceston.  In Hobart, Able Australia has eight residential houses, two lifestyle facilities, over 70 clients, the equivalent of 125 000 employment hours per annum and, unbelievably, over 135 employees.

In Launceston, it has six residential houses, one lifestyle facility, one younger persons' program, over 70 clients, the equivalent of 90 000 employment hours per annum and over 85 employees.  So, in many ways very little is heard of an organisation that is doing much good work in our communities.  They are planning a major expansion in Tasmania in the near future.

Its Tasmanian profile might be helped by a former colleague of ours in this House, former president Don Wing, who is on the board.  He joined the board in 2011 when he concluded his services here.  He says that it has an excellent Tasmanian workforce and a top administration team. He sees huge potential to provide services to even more people in the Tasmanian community.  He also is impressed with the organisation's very dedicated staff.

I offer congratulations to the national CEO, Kate MacRae, who has just been appointed. She is based in Melbourne.  Able Australia along with other non-profit, well-managed disability services combined with the National Disability Insurance Scheme is by far the best way to manage an increasing and more visible Australian problem.