It quickly becomes apparent when you first discover the EW Tipping Foundation that they genuinely care about people and about changing expectations. Their annual report reads, “We encourage the changing expectations of the people we support. We foster changing the expectations of communities. We support people to develop changing expectations of themselves and their capabilities.”
A changing approach
EW (Bill) Tipping was a journalist with Melbourne’s Herald newspaper who wrote passionately about people with disabilities and other social issues. He was instrumental in improving conditions at Kew Cottages and other disability institutions. He had a vision for a network of family homes in the community in which people with disabilities lived non-institutional lives. Not long before Bill passed away from a serious illness in 1970, a large public meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall formed the EW Tipping Foundation.
Whilst originally concentrating on group homes for people with disabilities, the Foundation has expanded into respite, advocacy, community development and other areas of need.
They do this by supporting:
|people of any age with disabilities including physical, intellectual, sensory or psychiatric, including acquired brain injury|
|people who are ageing with frailty or dementia|
|children requiring out-of-home or crisis care|
|families and other carers who need respite.|
A person-centred philosophy
Described as “person-centred”, the Foundation was one of the first organisations in Victoria to adopt the philosophy that focuses on the individual’s choice and empowerment. It was a substantial shift from earlier charity and medical models of pure service provision.
The approach recognises the rights of everyone, regardless of ability, to enjoy equal rights and responsibilities as citizens. This includes the right to choose the way they want to live, to participate in the community and to receive respect.
“We focus on the individual,” said Chief Executive Officer, Richard Dent. “We work with one person at a time to learn what it is they want to do in their life, and support them to achieve it.”
The Foundation has 23 shared supported accommodation houses (group homes) across Victoria. Residents are encouraged to make their own choices in their daily lives, and to get involved in the community. Residents meet regularly to make decisions about their home. Eight other houses offer less intensively supported living.
Respite is crucial to families needing a break from care. It is also a great opportunity for people with disabilities to make friends and participate in new activities. The Foundation has several respite facilities offering stay durations ranging from overnight to several weeks.
Through its partner organisation, Victorian Person Centred Services, the Foundation offers a wide range of one-on-one support to people across Victoria. This support can be anything from personal attendant care to taking someone out beach fishing. It focuses on helping people to live life their way.
Saward Dawson and the Foundation
It’s not often that auditors are moved to tears by their clients but that’s what happened to Tim Flowers at an EW Foundation Annual General Meeting. One of the Foundation’s clients provided a presentation which described how his life had changed as a result of living in one of the Foundation’s shared supported accommodation units. He described being valued, respected and empowered. You could have heard a pin drop in the crowd of around 200 people, except for the quiet sobbing of one of our audit partners! It’s great to get a glimpse into how our clients make a difference to our community!
Saward Dawson has provided the Foundation and its growing group of partner organisations with a broad range of assurance and accounting solutions for around 10 years.
This relationship has grown through a period of remarkable change. When we first became involved in auditing the Foundation they were turning over $2.7 million in recurrent funding and servicing their community predominantly through shared supported accommodation.
Today the Foundation and its partner organisations turnover in excess of $20 million and serve their community in a variety of “person centred” ways!
We have also provided the Foundation’s directors with due diligence analysis and support on key business acquisitions as well as assistance through the complexities of financial reporting change.
Like Bill Tipping, the Foundation is committed to raising the profile of issues affecting people with disabilities and others who need support in the community. They will continue to develop ways to lift the awareness of particular issues, changing the expectations of how people with disabilities are included in the community. Their website at www.tipping.org.au will give you a glimpse of their passion and commitment.