OUR IMPACT 2020/21

DISABILITY SERVICES

We aim to create more inclusive and accessible communities for all through our services and employment opportunities tailored for people living with a disability. 

During the past year 232 people were assisted through our disability services with employment opportunities, recreation and leisure programs, supported employment and respite and outreach facilities. 

This year saw the Society establish the Disability and Inclusion directorate during the second quarter of the financial year. This decision was made to affirm our commitment to supporting people living with a disability following the closure of the Local Area Coordination (LAC) program and the Access and Inclusion team. 

Services offering day programs such as Mary Mackillop Outreach and Inner West Men’s Shed were required to temporarily close or restricted from operating in-person, resulting in fewer participants accessing social inclusion, personal growth, and life skills development programs compared with recent years. In contrast, there was consistent need for our emergency accommodation, respite, and outreach services for children with disabilities (aged 7-17) during the pandemic 

Our Supported Independent Living facilities assisted NDIS participants who requested Specialised Support Coordination to better understand and implement their plans while building skills and connecting to community, mainstream and other government services. Our services located across Sydney, Central West and Shoalhaven empower participants to make decisions, coordinate supports and participate in their local community. 

SUPPORTED EMPLOYMENT

Our Assisted Disability Employment (ADE) enterprises provided 84 supported workers with employment and professional development opportunities over the past year. Staff based in metropolitan and regional parts of the state are able to find fulfilling work and connection as part of our ADE enterprises, including supporting NSW Health in the production of COVID-19 testing kits. 

At our Ozanam Industries workshops in Stanmore and West Ryde in Sydney, and Castlereagh Industries in the regional community of Coonamble, supported workers are provided with varying levels of on-the-job training and support, linked to their needs and employment goals. 

Training for employees with disability includes mail fulfilment, general packaging, textile recycling, warehousing of products, show bag assembly and shrink wrapping for business customers which help to fund our programs assisting people experiencing disadvantage.

FAREWELL TO ACCESS AND INCLUSION AND LOCAL AREA COORDINATION

The Access and Inclusion team came to a close on 30 September 2020 as a result of challenges arising from the pandemic. Developed as a continuation of the work started by the former Ability Links program, the Access and Inclusion team played a vital role in progressing community capacity building projects across the state. Through projects such as Beaches for Everybody and the Better Access Map, the team sought to increase inclusivity for the betterment of the whole population. 

The Society concluded its delivery of the Local Area Coordination program on 30 September following completion of its agreement with the NDIA. During the four-year duration of the LAC program 49,000 participants were transitioned to access the NDIS across the state.  

The legacy of these programs continues to this day in the way the Society strives to shapes a more inclusive future for people living with a disability. 

OZANAM WORKERS ASSEMBLE COVID-19 TEST KITS

Teams of the Society’s supported workers helped make NSW safer during the past year of the COVID-19 pandemic. By May 2021 they had passed the one million mark in assembling testing kits to help NSW Health combat the coronavirus challenge.

Vinnies Ozanam Industries – named after the Society’s 19th century Parisian founder – runs work centres in the Sydney suburbs of Stanmore and West Ryde as well as in Coonamble, north-central NSW where a further 140,000 testing kits had been assembled.

In a community effort, the production line at Coonamble’s Castlereagh Industries received assistance from volunteers at the SES, the Lions and Quota clubs, and local Aboriginal kids involved with the Clontarf Foundation.

The testing kits comprise nasal and throat swabs, a storage vial and a sealable poly-bag. Boxes of assembled kits are despatched to NSW Health Pathology, Australia’s largest public pathology organisation, which commissioned Vinnies to undertake the work.

Along with vaccinating and contact tracing, testing is a key component in the fight against COVID-19 spread.

The Society’s centres employ people with disability who undertake tasks and training tailored to their individual circumstances. They also do assembly-line work for organisations such as HarperCollins, World Wildlife Fund, Caritas and Future Logistics.

‘We provide meaningful, sustainable and valuable employment to over 100 people with disability,’ said Rod Silber, Business Development Manager Disability and Inclusion at Stanmore.

‘This gives individuals a sense of worth, an opportunity to develop a variety of new skills and the chance to make new friends. The centres provide a professional, customer focused service to some of Australia’s most respected companies, State Government departments and community groups.’

One worker, Sue, who is vision impaired, had been at Stanmore for more than 21 years. She said she enjoyed the work because she could utilise her skill at ‘feeling the job’.

‘It’s like I’m contributing in a small way to ensuring that the NSW community can be kept safe during this pandemic,’ Sue said.

NSW Health Pathology’s COVID-19 Operations Lead, Michael Crowther said at the start of the pandemic NSW Health Pathology staff were packing the test kits at the end of a busy shift in the lab and in the Newcastle office.

‘As you can imagine our staff were exhausted doing this on top of the normal workload,’ he said.

‘Thanks to their help, we can get a steady supply of testing kits to frontline staff who need regular testing in hotel quarantine and airports, special health hospitals and to testing clinics around NSW.

‘I’d like to give a big shout out and thank you to everyone who has helped, from Sydney’s Inner West and all the way out to Coonamble in Western NSW. It’s a great opportunity to show that people with a disability are making a meaningful contribution to the community during the pandemic. 

‘The demand for these kits has never been higher, and the staff have assembled and packed over 1.2 million COVID-19 test kits for NSW Health Pathology. 

‘We couldn’t do it without their help.’ Michael said. 

Rod Silber added, “This work was extremely exciting for our supported employees and the support staff at both of our facilities. Our priority is to ensure that each person has the opportunity to develop their full potential as a member of the Australian workforce through effective, relevant and ongoing training.

‘Our support staff work with each employee to achieve their personal and individual goals.’  

Sue, a vision impaired team member at Ozanam Industries, Stanmore assembling a COVID-19 testing kit for NSW Health Pathology.

Workers and community volunteers assembling COVID-19 testing kits at Vinnies Castlereagh Industries in Coonamble. Photo: Oliver Brown/Coonamble Times