The Benevolent Society set itself apart from other charitable organisations from the outset, when the organisation formed to provide support not just to those in need, but to society’s disenfranchised people. Unaffiliated with any religious group, the organisation helped people like single mothers, unwed pregnant women and abandoned children.
Today, The Benevolent Society has grown into one of the largest providers of specialist services for people living with disability in NSW, QLD, ACT and SA.
Perhaps one of the group’s largest achievements to date has been the successful merger of staff from the NSW Government’s Department of Family and Community Services (FACS) into The Benevolent Society. This move, as part of the disability sector’s initiative to provide consumer-directed care through the NDIS, has been the most significant industry reform since Medicare.
Since FACS’s Disability Community Support Teams transitioned from the government sector and into The Benevolent Society, the organisation has expanded its service offerings, both across the country and in the Illawarra area. The Benevolent Society offices in Wollongong are now based at the Innovation Campus, which means another step in the direction of innovation for the organisation. The hub allows the organisation’s staff to liaise and partner with experts in the field of community services. It also facilitates the integration of high-level knowledge with service delivery.
“Being so close to the academics in this world-class University is just wonderful,” says Jo Toohey, CEO of The Benevolent Society. “For those of us working in ageing and disability, the ability to draw from their wealth of knowledge is invaluable.”
Among the organisation’s recent innovations is the adoption of a mobile working environment for its multidisciplinary teams. “Our staff love this approach, as it allows them to work from their place of choice, whether it be their own home, their client’s home, at The Benevolent Society community hubs, or somewhere else entirely. Clients, staff and the wider community are all looking to technology, particularly through devices and the internet, to share ideas, gather information and build support networks.
In response to this, The Benevolent Society has become a major sponsor of the increasingly popular platform, My Disability Matters, and even has its own dedicated community within the platform called The Benevolent Hive. My Disability Matters is an online social community, providing valuable resources to support families and the disability industry.
Embracing the spirit of innovation has been critical in The Benevolent Society not only remaining relevant over its long history in Australia, but in ensuring its community impact continues to grow – now and into the future.