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Investing in our Leaders

ComLink knows that its greatest asset is its people. As a result of our strong focus on growth, 2017-18 required a strong focus on leadership development.

ComLink held a 5-day Leadership Retreat on the Sunshine Coast, with the retreat theme of ‘Building the Revolution’. Coordinators and Managers from across the state came together to learn and share their knowledge and skill in areas such as people management, wellness, work safety and key client challenges such as dementia, social isolation and loneliness.

The Retreat also welcomed guest speaker, Bruce Williams, a noted facilitator from Easy Teams. The team enjoyed a day of self-development as they investigated their Myers-Briggs Type Indicators. Bruce’s insights left a lasting impression on our leaders and this has been instrumental in creating a more emotionally-intelligent cohort.

The outcomes of the Leadership Retreat were met with 100% of the participants reporting that the program added to their confidence and competence as ComLink leaders. ComLink hopes to deliver this program on an annual basis.

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ComLink Roadshows

ComLink has hit the road! Recently, ComLink began its series of road shows across Queensland, launching its first event in Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast. These events are focused on educating and informing. We never want a client to miss out on a vital service simply because they were not aware that it is available to them. ComLink wants everybody to get as much out of our service as they can!’

“It’s important to always be out in the community telling people what we do. The age care space can be confusing, so it is vital that we are always communicating everything that we are able to provide to our clients”, CEO Feda Adra, said.

ComLink has now hosted roadshows in each region we service, speaking to hundreds of clients and community members. ComLink arranged transport for all attendees who learned how to better navigate the aged care system, had an opportunity to ask questions, socialise with others, and enjoy a delicious lunch.

Feedback has been resoundingly positive, including the sentiment that ‘ComLink has rescued us.’ Due to the success of our events, ComLink will continue to host more roadshows around Queensland next year.

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How To Grow A For-Purpose Organisation

From ComLink’s humble beginnings in a suburban Caloundra house, to a State-wide success story, the organisation has grown immensely over the last 10 years. We spoke with Feda Adra, ComLink’s CEO, to ask her about her decade long journey with the organisation and to find out what the secret formula is to growing a visionary not-for-profit (NFP).

You started as the manager of ComLink in 2004, when it was still called Caloundra HACC: What was ComLink like back then?

Our Office was in Caloundra; it was a little house. A grey little house, with grey walls, grey tables and chairs; everything was grey. It was a good group of people, predominantly volunteers who helped run the office.

What was the most difficult part of having a small organisation?

Wanting to help as many people as we could, but being limited by our size. We relied heavily on our volunteers who went above and beyond to help us, taking on so much more than volunteers should. We were fortunate to have met so many people that shared our passion.

How did you approach arriving at ComLink, having already experienced growing a NFP before?

‘My first and foremost goal was to earn everybody’s trust and respect and learn as much as I could about the organisation before making any changes’.

Once that was in place, how did ComLink begin to grow?

HACC grew to STAC when we realized we weren’t just Caloundra anymore. Incrementally we grew into the Sunshine Coast and then Queensland. I knew we had to diversify away from just the community transport and social support aspect of what we delivered. In 2016 we had our biggest diversification with care services branching into Personal Care and Domestic Assistance. And now we are a provider of Home Care Packages.

What was it like as the NFP sector became more professional? How did you plan for increased competition?

I believe when you run your business professionally, with a clear purpose and a great team, success will follow. At ComLink we run our own race. Concentrating on competition only blurs the vision and creates fear, which in turn makes us lose our focus.

Was there a moment during this growth when you realised ComLink was on to something bigger? A ‘lightbulb’ moment where the vision changed?

I never thought we would be the largest provider of Community Transport in Australia. However, I always knew we had a unique way of delivering our services and a team of people that love what they do. The vision for the organisation continues to be focused on our clients and staff. They are at the forefront of all our planning.

How did you ramp up our professional standards as the industry changed?

One thing we did was invest in was technology, but it’s not something that we market ourselves on. It increased our efficiencies and showed that we were up there for innovation.

Did expanding into regional QLD feel like starting another Caloundra, or was it an entirely different thing?

Definitely, a whole separate thing, because the regions are so different. They have different requests, issues in either transport or social support, and every region took us on in a different way.

What networks were the most important to you as ComLink grew?

Our key partners were the peak bodies we chose to work with and contributed to. They are the ones that created the great networks that we have. When I chaired the QCTIA and ACTA, the national body, the networks and people we connected with got our reputation out there to both government and its’ funding bodies.

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CEO Report

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.

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Central Services

As an organisation that has always been an innovator, ComLink is constantly looking at ways to be more efficient and effective in delivering quality services to our clients across all regions in Queensland.

This year ComLink purchased two office spaces: to house the Mackay office staff and an office in a building just down the road from Head Office, to house Central Services.

Central Services was introduced very early last year to support the 12 regions of ComLink. It has grown and developed over the last eighteen months to be a very important and efficient part of the organisation.

Due to the enormous growth ComLink has had over the last 12 months, in Home Care Packages as well as Commonwealth Home Support Program, has meant staffing growth; therefore, things were becoming quite cramped in Head Office.

Central Services has an amazing team, who are dedicated in ensuring that our clients receive the best possible experience when booking, changing bookings, cancelling bookings or being registered due to receiving a referral from My Aged Care.

The Central Services staff are empathetic and passionate people who want our clients to only receive the best possible service. This is evidenced by the number of compliments Central Services receive on a daily basis.

Central Services is also responsible for updating the database, ensuring all clients’ information is the most current. They also will perform the Client Satisfaction surveys from time to time to ensure that ComLink delivers the highest quality services, to our clients.

ComLink will continue to encourage all our clients to be active participants and have a say to ensure that we are always being the best we can be!

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1987 – The Pioneers

It’s amazing to think that some of ComLink and Kawana Companions earliest pioneers are still as active with the organisation today as they were when things began. Jean Hughes (left) is one of the original founders of an organisation known as Caloundra HACC (now known as ComLink.) Trudy (right) is one of the original founders of Kawana Companions and is still just as active today as she was then.

Kawana Companions is a social group with as much history, character and integrity as the small band of innovative, church-goers and community members who founded the organisation back in 1987. Throughout the years Kawana Companions has seen an eclectic range of entertainment, and has no plans of stopping any time soon.

ComLink was started by a small group of representatives who made up the Caloundra & District Welfare Council. Together, they saw a need for more mental health support services and support for the frail and elderly on the Sunshine Coast. Originally things started small with volunteers using their own vehicles. Year by year the service grew in popularity and demand, led by a tireless team of volunteers, working out of a little grey house in Caloundra.

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