Recognising a growing need for transport services in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast, a small group of community members started a care service under the umbrella of the Caloundra and District Welfare Council.
In 1987, more than 30 years ago, the Caloundra HACC Transport received funding from the Federal and State Governments. Their office stood directly opposite Moffat Beach; a small single room which housed only two staff members and two desks. No computers, no kitchen and certainly no grandiose visions of a Queensland wide aged care company. After receiving funding transport services commenced and a Centre Based Day Care service was initiated in Kawana. It hosted nine clients and nearly as many volunteers. Even then, the impact this service had on the community cannot be overstated.
Today ComLink stands as one of Australia’s leading Community Service organisations with a Queensland wide presence. There are almost 30,000 registered clients with ComLink, a team of 200+ staff and 220+ volunteers. Today ComLink is about having positive and happy people contributing to a cause that changes people’s lives for the better. Now more than ever, ComLink is proving that it’s an organisation for new ideas, innovative concepts and growth.
So how did we do it?
ComLink has always had a vision for the future. Even though that vision may have been something relatively small and simple compared to where we are now, there was always something grander in mind. And this vision was always centred around the outcomes we provided for the clients we serviced.
ComLink’s vision as an organisation is ‘Leading the Care Revolution.’ The community services industry is rapidly changing and ComLink is leading the way. This vision is not about breaking the rules. It’s about putting the community first and doing whatever it takes to achieve the client’s goals. And it’s about embracing change and being bold and positive to improve people’s lives.
It was our never say ‘no’ attitude which took us to new heights. In 2007, Caloundra HACC rebranded to Suncoast Transport and Care (STAC). If you were to walk through our STAC office any time between 2007 and 2014, you’d instantly notice how bubbly everyone was. It was the members of STAC’s passion and enthusiasm that seemed to draw people in, giving them fulfilment and joy. Job seekers would volunteer to fill their weekly quota, but then never want to leave. STAC gave these people purpose, as it did all our staff and volunteers, and soon people started talking.
Word of mouth was everything. Never did STAC spend a single dollar on advertising. It was during this time that STAC cultivated much of what ComLink looks like today. Visionaries like Feda Adra knew the benefits of never saying ‘no’ and treating guidelines exactly for what they are – guidelines. If a client needed to go to Brisbane, but STAC didn’t ‘service Brisbane’ you could bet they’d find a way to get them there.
Like a pyramid built on a steady foundation, it was STAC’s ‘village mentality’ that helped ComLink become what it is today. When the organisation rebranded and became ComLink in 2012, growth was exponential. Additional funding allowed expansion into seven regions of Queensland and the addition of new services.
Culture and Passion
A great organisational culture is no longer just an attraction in today’s business environment. It has become a necessity. An amazing work life has become a priority for talented workers who seek out organisations that will recognise their contribution, share their values and lead their industry with both purpose and passion.
A company’s culture looks to answer not only the question of what the company is, but more importantly why it exists. The answers to these questions about an organisation’s purpose are paramount to forming an inspired and productive team. Considering this, here are some things that ComLink does every day.
1. We Be Ourselves
Everyone at ComLink has something to offer and more importantly, something that makes them unique.
2. We Have Fun
Life doesn’t have to be so serious. We do very important work and all our staff work very hard, but we still manage to enjoy ourselves.
3. We Treat Each Other Like Family
We don’t even have to think about it. By looking after and caring about each other, we normalise giving, loyalty and sticking it out together.
ComLink’s been around longer than I have, and it will probably outlive me too. So, hey future Marketing Manager. When you’re using this story as a reference as you write for ComLink’s 50th anniversary, be sure to give me a shout out.
An important part of any businesses success is effective leadership. Leaders can shape and empower their staff, consumers and colleagues, which in return, can send a ripple effect throughout an organisation and its community.
This is what ComLink, through the leadership of our CEO Feda Adra, has done best. Empower staff. Staff are given the opportunity to learn and grow within their roles, and progress into new roles with greater challenges. Staff are encouraged to innovate, to change things up, and look for new and creative solutions to problems.
ComLink has also put a focus on staff wellbeing and happiness by conducting staff surveys and developing new initiatives based on the results. Our Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and our Staff Health and Wellness Programs were an outcome of this. Each region has also nominated a wellness ambassador who will help improve health and healthy behaviours and create a positive workplace culture and supportive environment in which to work.
ComLink Into The Future
The organisation continues to expand and grow based on these principles. Just as historically, the pioneers who began a small service in the Caloundra area couldn’t have imagined what that would become, the chances are in five or ten years ComLink will be something far greater than we have imagined even today.