Our History
Afford is one of Australia’s longest serving disability service providers, dedicated to helping people with disability to shape their own lives.
Our History

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Our History

Afford is one of Australia’s longest serving disability service providers, dedicated to helping people with disability to shape their own lives. 

In 1951 we began our journey as The Poliomyelitis Society of Australia, at the height of the world’s devastating polio epidemic. Formed by Dr Ross Williams – himself, a polio sufferer.

Our History

We started from humble beginnings at our founding site, the Cherrywood Hospital in Turramurra, NSW, to now providing award winning care and supports across Australia. 

Our History
Our History
Our History

HISTORICAL TIMELINE

1951

Afford was founded as ‘The Poliomyelitis Society’ in 1951 and incorporated in 1952.

1953

We opened our first accommodation based service, an After Care Hospital in Turramurra called ‘Cherrywood’.

1960

We opened our first supported employment work centre in Padstow.

1964

Fundraising activities were expanded with the introduction of the Polio Art Unions and from this, the “Cherrywood Raffle” was born, which continues to raise funds and awareness for Afford.

1968

Cherrywood Village and Hostel opened in Llandilo by Sir Roden Cutler VC, AK, KCMG, KCVO, CBE, Governor of NSW.

1969

The organisation is renamed the Australian Foundation for Disabled.

1970

A workshop at Canley Vale is officially opened while in the same year the Foundation announces plans to double the size of the workshop at Cherrywood.

1976

Dr M.J.D. Borland M.D. B.S. was appointed President of Afford, a position he held for over 40 years, the longest standing Presidency of a Not for Profit in Australian history.

1984

Neville Barnier was listed as a Director and he would go on, to not only serve as a Director for 34 years but be Chairman for 3 of those from 2014 to 2017.

1985

FODI Industries established and Penrith factory opens to create employment opportunities. The Foundation purchased its first group home in Penrith, for supported employees to live independently. Unfortunately this was also the year a fire completely destroyed the Llandilo factory.

1988

Marrickville Factory was opened.

1990

We introduced our Post School Vocational Programs and Day Program offerings, assisting people prepare for the workplace and gain life skills.

1999

Minchinbury Head Office and Business Enterprises open.

2001

We changed our name to the Australian Foundation for Disability and began trading under the name Afford. Our Disability Employment Service (DES) launched and has since been ranked as the #1 DES in Australia. Affords short term accommodation (respite) services were launched.

2001

Afford operated out of 18 sites which were a near even split between Client and Employment Services.

2004

The Liverpool Business Enterprise is extended and Kings Park Day Program opens. In 2004 Ross Fowler, who would later become Penrith Mayor and Chairman of Afford, joined the Board.

2005

The Transition to Work Program is adopted to support school students in their transition to an adult working life. Mr Douglas Sadler retired from the Board after 25 years of service.

2007

Prestons packaging site was opened.

2008

A dedicated Carers Support Program is established.

2010

At the time, CEO of AFFORD, Tim Walton, became the President of the National Disability Services (NDS) in 2010 and two years later chaired the ‘Every Australian Counts’ Campaign for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). Afford won an Australian Business Award for Innovation for the Transition to Retirement Program.

2014

We transitioned into the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the greatest reform to Australian Health Care since Medicare.

2015

Marked an important change in the trajectory of Afford, with the appointment of Steven Herald to become Affords CEO. Afford underwent a re-branding and positioning to align with the changes within the disability sector. The revised logo represented the ‘freedom to soar’ with a person being carried into the sky by wings made up of colourful origami cranes.

2016

The first ever Gala Ball for people living with lifelong disabilities was held in NSW. The Afford Gala Ball is the only event of its kind in the disability sector, and continues to grow with events now held in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.

2017

Afford employs 1,000 people and forms its Allied Health Team. Afford had proudly achieved the highest results recorded by any company in the history of the Voice Survey, a staff survey designed by Macquarie University and used by 3,000 companies across all sectors with a few hundred in the disability sector.

2018

Afford operations expand into Queensland and Victoria, while entering the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

2020

Afford currently supports over 4000 clients across Australia. We launched our services in South Australia and Western Australia whilst continuing to provide support throughout the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021

Afford supports over 6,200 clients and employs over 2,600 staff. We continued to change lives and offer our award-winning supports across five states, despite the continued challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 marked our 70th anniversary.

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