Our History
Afford is one of Australia’s longest serving disability service providers, dedicated to supporting 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



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


We purchased our first accommodation based service, an After Care Hospital in Turramurra called ‘Cherrywood’ which was opened in July 1955.


We opened our first supported employment work centre in Padstow.


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.


The Cherrywood Hospital was 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.


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.


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.


Neville Barnier became a Director, a role he would serve for 34 years before becoming Chairman from 2014 to 2017.


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.


Marrickville Factory was opened.


Post school vocational programs and lifestyle centre offerings began.


Minchinbury Head Office and Business Enterprises open.


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.


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


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


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.


Prestons packaging site was opened.


A dedicated Carers Support Program is established.


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.


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


This year marked an important change in our trajectory with the appointment of Steven Herald as CEO. AFFORD became ‘Afford’ and underwent a re-branding. The new logo representing the ‘freedom to soar’ with a person being carried into the sky by wings of colourful origami cranes.


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.


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.


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


Afford supports over 4,000 customers 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.


Afford supports over 6,200 customers 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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