Our History

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Afford was established in 1951 by Dr Ross Williams and was originally known as The Poliomyelitis Society of Australia. The charity started at the height of the polio epidemic in Australia and the first site was the Cherrywood Hospital in the Sydney suburb of Turramurra in New South Wales.

Today, Afford provides accommodation, community connection, disability supports and employment services across Australia that empower people with disabilities to live the lives they want to, and achieve their personal ambitions. 



The organisation is founded as The Poliomyelitis Society in 1951 and incorporated in 1952.


The organisation purchases its first accommodation-based service – ‘Cherrywood’ – an after-care hospital in the Sydney suburb of Turramurra. The site is opened in July 1955.


The organisation opens its first supported employment work centre in the Sydney suburb of Padstow.


Cherrywood is transformed into ‘Cherrywood Village and Hostel’ and opened by Sir Roden Cutler VC, AK, KCMG, KCVO, CBE, Governor of NSW.


The organisation is renamed the Australian Foundation for Disabled.


FODI Industries is established, and the organisation opens its Penrith factory to create employment opportunities for people with disabilities. The Australian Foundation for Disabled purchases its first group home in Penrith, to provide supported employees with the opportunity to live independently.


The organisation commences its vocational programs and opens lifestyle centres.


Afford’s Minchinbury Head Office and its business enterprises open.


The organisation launches its dedicated Carers Support Program.


Afford transitions to provide integrated services for people living with disabilities under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.


Afford rebrands.


Afford holds its first Gala Ball for clients in New South Wales, then expands to hold the event in Queensland and Victoria.


Afford establishes its Allied Health Team.


Afford operations expand to Queensland and Victoria.


Afford launches its services in South Australia and Western Australia and ensures continuity of service through the COVID-19 pandemic.


Afford marks its 70th anniversary.


Afford appears as a case study at the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of people with disability and undergoes significant transformation under the new leadership of Chief Executive Officer, Jo Toohey.

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