The last year has been unlike any we’ve ever experienced. We have experienced significant change; from our leadership, to our branding to the way we deliver our services.
It’s been a time to reflect and to be grateful for the new opportunities, the successes and the wonderful new people who have joined our organisation this year.
Our financial year began by welcoming new Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Barnes to our community. Elizabeth has brought her extensive experience in the not-for-profit health and disability sector to the EverAbility Group. A former Occupational Therapist, Elizabeth is passionate about helping people to lead the best lives possible and wants to ensure the EverAbility family of services continues to offer an exceptional level of service to all clients.
We farewelled Chair Debbie Schaffer after 16 years on the board. Debbie was instrumental in the ‘Building our Vision’ campaign to raise funds for our Centre for Excellence, now known as Perron Place. I thank Debbie on behalf of the Board and the CEO for her dedication and passion to making a difference in the lives of people with vision impairment.
I am honoured to have taken over as Chair. I thank my colleagues on the Board for their support and hard work as we’ve undertaken many changes and made many advancements this year.
We have undertaken a journey of discovery this year about who we are and who we are for. During that time we have consulted with and listened to our community. And the message was clear – VisAbility is for people with vision impairment.
And so VisAbility’s focus returned to what we excel in – services for people with vision impairment. And with that comes a new, highly accessible look. It is a clear sign to the community that we are for people with no or low vision.
We launched our new children’s service, Kites Children’s Therapy, in Western Australia and Tasmania. Kites is a specialised early intervention therapy service. In WA it incorporates Kites Toybox, a unique service with a 40-year history that provides toys and resources to support play and development in children.
We have a new vision for The Perron Centre in Victoria Park. With thanks to Elizabeth, we’re now working towards an exciting and sustainable approach to the purpose of the building, Perron Place – a community space that sits at the heart of why we exist – to ensure inclusion and independence for all.
After a great deal of research, evaluation, debate and analysis, Guide Dogs Tasmania and Western Australia resigned membership of Guide Dogs Australia this year. In recent times there has been an increasingly strong drive towards a single national organisation which has significant disadvantages and risks for VisAbility, Guide Dogs WA and TAS. There remains much goodwill on both sides and our aim is to continue working together as affiliated organisations.
With all of these changes it became apparent that we needed to distinguish our vision services provider from our parent company, which now encompassed Kites and Perron Place. And so we have changed our parent company name to EverAbility Group.
A name that embodies the shared vision of inclusion and independence for all, across all our services – VisAbility, Kites, Guide Dogs and Perron Place.
I thank the board and executive team for their contribution to our new strategic plan for 2020-2022. Our current strategic plan was reviewed in response to the substantial changes that occurred in our operations as a response to the pandemic. Alongside that we had a change in Chair and CEO.
While 2020 was overshadowed by Covid-19, I’m proud of and grateful for the Board, the Leadership team, staff and volunteers who have remained focused and committed to finding innovative ways to continue to providing our valuable services to our community.
I look forward to another year of outstanding service delivery and working together to bringing about the best outcomes for our community.