Across history, great organisations have built their success on the question “What if”. As ComLink celebrates its 30th year, I have been reflecting on how this question has created the successful company we are today.

In 1987, the question was “What if we started a service, in Caloundra, to help older people?”. We did, and we were successful. We then asked, “What if we could help people beyond Caloundra?” We did, and we were successful. We then asked, “What if we could help more people, with more services across more regions?” We did, and we were successful.

ComLink now has over four hundred staff and volunteers continuing to ask this question; a question that has birthed our organisation into the present – an innovative, compassionate community organisation that leads the way in helping Queenslanders live and age well.

Therefore, it seems only fitting that as we move forward, we continue to ask the question “What if?”

What if we could show our clients we truly understood their needs?

ComLink has had an exceptional year. We have worked towards building a dynamic team of people that continue to shape and grow the organisation as leaders in our industry. Keeping the client at the forefront of all our planning has been a core commitment. We have focused on programs and services that will see people living well in their community and at home, along with assisting in the space of social isolation and connections.

What if we embraced the sector changes and saw them as an opportunity to grow?

We continue to see significant changes in the aged care sector with consumer directed care and funding for Home Care Packages moving from the provider to the consumer. Whilst some providers may see this as destabilising, ComLink has seen their Home Care Package client numbers triple, with a strong community message around ‘quality of care and consistency of carer’. It has been heartening to see older Queenslanders choosing ComLink as their preferred provider, and confidently transferring their Home Care Packages into the hands of our expert Care teams.

On the 8th of May 2018, the then Commonwealth Treasurer, The Honourable Scott Morrison MP delivered Australia’s 2018-2019 Federal Budget. It was pleasing to see Aged Care as one of the key focus areas in the Budget. The financial sustainability of aged care funding in the future is becoming an increasingly significant issue, especially with report forecasts showing public expenditure on aged care expected to double as a share of the economy by 2055. In light of this, ComLink believes that the government is set to help older Australians remain at home for as long as possible, which is what we hear every day from our clients.

What else and…Where else?

ComLink has seen increases in grant funding across all regions of Queensland.  The transport division of ComLink has remained steady across some regions and has grown immensely in others. Our model of Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) services and all levels of Home Care Packages is ideal for the clients, as people waiting to receive their Home Care Package can commence CHSP services, enabling low care services to be implemented very quickly.

What if there were more Queenslanders who could benefit from our services?

I am pleased to advise that ComLink was approved as a registered provider to provide Assist-Travel/Transport and Household Tasks in Queensland under the National Disability Insurance Scheme. For the past 30 years, we have successfully been providing transport and social support services for younger people with a disability under the Community Care Program.  On 8 May 2018, the new Federal Budget was released and has seen the Government confirm its commitment to the National Disability Insurance Scheme with $43 billion worth of funding secured over the forward estimates period. ComLink is working in collaboration with disability providers ensuring viability of services with the implementation of NDIS.

What if we increased our investment in our leaders and leadership programs?

In April 2018 we welcomed our first Chief Operating Officer for ComLink, Rosie Overfield. Rosie’s role has come at the perfect time for the organisation, as we continue to grow and innovate to deliver ComLink’s vision. Our leaders play an integral part in service quality and they drive performance in all regions. In recognising this, ComLink invested in our leadership team by providing a three-day Leadership Conference for Coordinators and senior staff. It was held on the Sunshine Coast with the objectives of communicating the ComLink vision and strategy, unifying the leadership teams, leadership training and improving regional communication systems.

What if we took the message of aged care to the people, instead of waiting for Government?

In 2018, we rolled out our ComLink Roadshows across the regions. These have been a big achievement for the organisation as we provided information and education sessions to increase awareness of services provided to clients and how to access them. The feedback from clients and attendees has been incredibly positive and we will continue the Roadshows yearly across Queensland.

What if we became even more innovative and financially successful?

Research and Development is another key priority and focus for the organisation. ComLink will be investing in this area to ensure staff, clients and our business, is supported with well-informed quality information about our services that will enable effective and efficient strategies.

Our Health & Wellbeing initiative took off with the engagement of an external Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provider as well as our wonderful new ComLink “Wellness Ambassadors”. Both are available for consultation and advice to ensure we look after our staff’s work and personal life balance.

ComLink has demonstrated strong financial success over the past decade, with average annual revenue growth over the last 4 years of almost 20%. The resulting ‘profits’ have been invested back into the business, including the purchase of two properties, one on the Sunshine Coast providing additional space for the Central Services team and one regional office, for Mackay.

Building a strong and compassionate businesses model requires us to ask questions and be more inquisitive. We cannot just rest on our existing knowledge. ComLink continues to learn and discover what is new and anticipate what is next.

What if we all took this approach?

Feda Adra