What WDEA looked like 30 years ago…
WDEA Works first commenced in 1989 as a service to assist clients with a disability to enter the workforce. Starting with three employees, WDEA Works initially operated out of a small office in Warrnambool but soon extended its coverage to Colac, Portland and Hamilton. As demand grew the organisation expanded its operations and services to cover a broader cross-section of the community. New services such as The Socialisers, a social group for people with a disability, and Futures for Young Adults were established.
In 1998 WDEA Works was able to obtain contracts to deliver a number of additional services, most notably for Job Network – an open employment service for all unemployed job seekers, regardless of their barriers to employment.
By 2008 WDEA Works had continued to grow its services. The Disability Employment Services and Job Network program was further strengthened by additional programs including:
- Personal Support Program (now part of Job Services Australia)
- Australian Apprenticeship Centre (contract ceased)
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services (now part of Disability Employment services)
- In 2009 WDEA Works opened offices in Ballarat, Ararat, Stawell and Horsham to deliver the Job Services Australia program (formerly known as Job Network).
In 2010, shortly after the expansion of coverage into central-western Victoria, WDEA Works was able to commence operation of its Disability Employment Services at these new sites.
The continued success of WDEA Works’ programs for over 20 years enabled one of the largest and most exciting additions to WDEA Works’ services since it began. In 2011 WDEA Works was approached by Vantage Inc. – a day services and supported work environment for people with disability. WDEA was able to incorporate Vantage into the services it offered which resulted in the ongoing operation of the Vantage supported work environments, to be known as “WDEA Enterprises”, and day services, to fall under the “WDEA Community” moniker.
In 2013, WDEA Works commenced delivery of Disability Employment Services in Bendigo and Castlemaine, and also opened an office in Shepparton in 2014. 2013 also saw WDEA Works add a training arm to the business, incorporating Balance Training Services under the banner of WDEA Training.
Since 1989, WDEA Works has created many support programs to assist those living with disability. Programs such as the Socialisers, ArtLink, CareerLink and the growth of WDEA Works’ Foundation (a trust fund that grants up to $100,000 per year to assist people with disability to gain or have greater access to employment opportunities), have maintained WDEA Works’ commitment to assisting the most vulnerable members of our community.
WDEA Works now operates full-time sites across 12 major cities and towns in Western Victoria and employs well over 300 employees.