By Jo Toohey

Afford has been sharing how we have transformed over the past year to create a new way forward for our organisation. The initiatives we have undertaken have been significant, far reaching, considered, based on sound ethical principles, experience and best practice in the delivery of human services.

Over the course of the past few weeks we have shared how we have changed through:

That’s a fair list – and none of it happens without leadership.

We built our leadership team on values, purpose and expertise

We’re proud we’ve changed because we have invested in building an expertly skilled and ethical leadership team. Our focus on ethical leadership and leading for purpose, is now in all areas and levels of Afford.

I am proud to serve in my role as Chief Executive Officer, in partnership with my executive leadership team, our senior leadership team, our managers and team leaders and our Board of Directors because I know that each and every individual working at Afford today has the ethical commitment to serve our purpose and work according to our Code of Conduct.

No one who has come to join Afford in any leadership role, whether management or subject matter expert, has done so without knowing the challenges that lay ahead. The challenges and work required have been relentless at times – a heavy burden that cannot be understated. I know our challenges here at Afford have been some of the most significant I have ever had to face in my career. But not one person has walked away, and they remain committed to see it through, knowing that ultimately our purpose of working with people with disability every day, and hopefully making a difference, was what really mattered. And that our clients, families, carers and staff deserved something better.

We have had to bare ourselves publicly, over and over again, with the Royal Commission, through the media, and owning and apologising for the significant issues from the past. But I know that owning the mistakes of the past and doing it with humility, compassion, and a desire to do better, has been the right thing to do. I would have it no other way. Our leaders have continued to work through all of this while also building a new Afford.

Having a team around me that is just as committed to social purpose and impact as I am is important to me, and our Executive Leadership Team are second to none. They each had to establish their own teams, bringing into Afford significant subject matter expertise that was not here before. And what teams they have created.

Our people are provided with direction and leadership, and empowered with the expertise to get things done, to do them well and to do things right. Knowing that help when they need it, is now here.

Our values in action

We have developed a Code of Conduct and policies that defines the organisational culture at Afford – it is the reference for our values in action. We also have developed a Diversity and Inclusion Policy, our Human Rights Policy and our Modern Slavery Statement.

These documents aren’t just lofty words on a page. We adhere to them, we work by them, we believe in them.

We invest in our leadership through learning and development, continuous improvement through our Gallup Q12 Strengths assessments and employee engagement program – which provides ground up action plans for leaders.

Our future

Afford is now setting its path for a bright future, with a new strategy to come in 2024.

We are moving forward with focus – and that has involved making tough decisions, changes to structure, changes to style and changes to systems. We are uncompromising in our determination to keep building a better Afford for clients and our community, and we still have tough decisions ahead of us

We know we have needed to change, and we have. We have taken steps to transform because we are a team of responsible leaders who model transparency, accountability and a purpose-led focus for our organisation.

I am proud we have changed. I am proud of where we are going.

I am proud that, today, the future is bright at Afford.


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