Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children
Annual Report 2016

Report of the President and the Chief Executive

RIDBC Chief Executive
Chris Rehn (left) and RIDBC
President, Sean Wareing
(right) spend time with
students Isabella and Jacob
at RIDBC VisionEd Preschool.

Caption: RIDBC Chief Executive Chris Rehn (left) and RIDBC President, Sean Wareing (right) spend time with students Isabella and Jacob at RIDBC VisionEd Preschool.

We are delighted to share with you the significant impact RIDBC made in 2016 to do more for those who need us, by reaching more people, delivering best practice and securing our future.

2016 marked the first year of implementation against RIDBC’s 2020 Strategic Plan – a substantial strategic evolution for RIDBC that will result in a new era of service provision for Australians with vision or hearing loss, their families, and the professionals who support them.

Our 2020 vision ‘to do more for those who need us’ is clear:

2016 In Review

Reaching More People

Delivering on our nationwide service focus, we recognise the need for continued investment in important infrastructure, and the need to recalibrate our operations to achieve accessible, community based service delivery. In 2016 we undertook programs to expand our footprint, opening new permanent and visiting sites, while also advancing new merger and acquisition opportunities.

In August we officially announced our intention to open RIDBC’s first purpose built site in Toowoomba, Queensland following a $2.8M donation from local philanthropist Clive Berghofer. This site will be a hub for the expansion of RIDBC’s services across regional and remote areas of Australia, with a focus on early intervention, therapy and expansion of our telepractice capability.

Our new state of the art facility in Deakin, Canberra that better aligns hearing and vision services in a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) landscape, opened in February 2016, with an official launch by the Disability Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin in September. This new service, co-located with leading Canberra ENT surgeons, is predicated on a ‘total service model’ that provides an end to end service for those with vision or hearing loss.

From an acquisition perspective, we recognised the cost effectiveness of bringing relevant and aligned services under the umbrella of RIDBC, positioning us well for the continued roll out of the NDIS and ultimately staving off potential market failure of important and necessary services to the community.

To this end we completed the year one acquisition and integration of the Early Education Program for Hearing Impaired Children (EEP), located in Brighton East, Victoria. We also entered discussions with a number of key service providers across Australia to identify partnership opportunities.

Throughout 2016, RIDBC, Macquarie University and Cochlear Ltd continued to work together as a Consortium to propose options for the potential transfer of Australian Hearing into non-government ownership.

As this report goes to press, the Government is yet to make a decision about this potential privatisation. In the meantime, the Consortium continues to explore ways to work with, and build upon Australian Hearing’s significant achievements to ensure the future wellbeing of all Australians with hearing loss.

Delivering Best Practice

Throughout 2016 we began recalibrating and realigning our programs and services – developing, delivering and demonstrating a total service offering that will comprise the RIDBC Centres of Excellence and ultimately define the world-class experience delivered at all RIDBC sites across Australia.

A services restructure was implemented to consolidate and more closely align Educational and Clinical Services, in line with recommendations from the 2015 Schools and Preschools Reviews. As part of this consolidation plan, RIDBC Garfield Barwick School was relocated to the North Rocks campus in 2016.

A new structure for improved management of client services commenced in 2016, with an important pilot study in Western Sydney. This approach has brought a more geographical approach to management of client services and greater alignment with identified community needs, the NDIS, and the current and future scale of our operations.

The integration of SCIC Cochlear Implant Program (SCIC CIP) into RIDBC continued in 2016, with an emphasis on greater collaboration, integrated client management, and new client acquisition particularly focused on adult clients living in areas where access to services has traditionally been a barrier for cochlear implantation.

In June, NSW Health partnered with SCIC CIP, with a funding contribution of $1.071M towards a Bone Conduction Implantable Devices (BCID) pilot program in public hospitals across NSW to help treat adults in NSW suffering from conductive hearing loss to improve their quality of life.

In December 2016, RIDBC finalised a formal agreement with Macquarie University that will see the academic affiliation of the RIDBC Renwick Centre transition to Macquarie University. This agreement paved the way for the first intake of students into new RIDBC Renwick Centre courses at Macquarie University in 2017.

These arrangements with Macquarie University will see RIDBC move into a new phase of the relationship with the University of Newcastle. We would like to pay tribute to and celebrate the collaboration between the University of Newcastle and RIDBC Renwick Centre over the past 24 years. Since the first formal graduation of students from the Master of Special Education (Sensory Disability) program in 1997, there have been more than 900 graduates who have completed doctoral, masters or graduate certificate level awards from the University of Newcastle for studies undertaken through RIDBC Renwick Centre.

Securing Our Future

RIDBC maintained a strong focus on its preparedness for the nationwide roll out of the NDIS in 2016, successfully retaining and converting existing clients into NDIS, capturing new clients, capitalising on new service opportunities and transitioning from pilot programs to ‘live’ NDIS locations.

In June 2016, RIDBC was chosen to host the NSW Government’s official launch of the NDIS. We worked with Government to stage this milestone event and media announcement which was testament to RIDBC’s leading position within the disability sector.

Services marketing activity increased in 2016, with a focus on securing more media coverage, new digital and print advertising, participation in events and exhibitions, the launch of a new NDIS microsite, and ongoing client retention and acquisition strategies.

Engagement of our people has continued to be a strong focus area in 2016. The Organisational Leadership Team has met frequently and has been given opportunities to complete initial skills training around management, communications and leadership development. All Staff Meetings are conducted twice yearly and internal newsletters and communications are circulated regularly to ensure staff understanding and commitment to the significant changes underway, and a connection with RIDBC’s change agenda.

Financial Performance

In 2016, RIDBC achieved Total Revenue (from both Operating and Non-operating Activities) of $54.5M which was an increase of $13.1M compared to 2015. Revenue from Operating Activities of $52.1M was 26% higher than 2015, primarily due to bequests.

Non-operating Revenue of $2.4M is the gain arising from the sale of the RIDBC Garfield Barwick School property at North Parramatta in 2016 and its subsequent relocation to RIDBC’s North Rocks site.

Total Expenditure on Operating Activities increased by $1.2M or 3% to $42.2M in 2016. This included $0.6M of Strategic Initiatives. Excluding Strategic Initiatives, the increase in Operating Activities was consistent with Consumer Price Index (CPI).

General administration and management costs were contained to 7.5% of operating expenditure in 2016. This represents a 0.2% improvement against 2015 which reflects RIDBC’s ongoing vigilance around headcount and operating costs associated with these functions.

Thank You

Community support, corporate partnerships and philanthropy remain key sources of RIDBC fundraising and are critical to ensuring the continuation of vital services for children, adults and families across Australia who are impacted by vision or hearing loss.

We are very grateful for the generosity of our donors and supporters with 44% of Operating Revenue in 2016 derived from fundraising activities. This included a substantial bequest of $8.7M left by the late Mr Ian Paul and his wife Dorothy, two of RIDBC’s most generous and long-term supporters.

In this annual report, we pay tribute to our valued donors and celebrate their ongoing enthusiasm, interest and support in helping us provide life-changing services to thousands of Australians.

We would also like to acknowledge our corporate supporters, partner organisations, staff and volunteers, including our valued RIDBC Board Members, for their significant contributions throughout the year. We would like to pay tribute to a much loved colleague, Celia Vild, who sadly passed away in 2016. Celia enriched the lives of children with vision or hearing loss and other physical and intellectual disabilities over the 24 years that she dedicated to RIDBC Educational Services and RIDBC Alice Betteridge School.

In December 2016, one of RIDBC’s longest standing Board Members, Mr Graeme Bradshaw retired from his role on the Board. Graeme’s expert guidance and continued focus on philanthropy ensured the highest level of governance over RIDBC’s fundraising revenue streams and the organisation’s long-term investment strategies. We would like to sincerely thank Graeme for his dedication and expertise over the past 19 years.

Looking Ahead

As we forge ahead with the implementation of RIDBC’s 2020 Strategic Plan, we are excited by the opportunity to meet the nationwide demand for high quality specialised vision and hearing services, when and where they are needed most.

We will continue to develop, deliver and demonstrate best practice services while ensuring professionals working in the field of sensory impairment are provided with state of the art facilities as well as training and continuing professional education programs that ensure quality standards are preserved, protected and extended to all those who are impacted by vision or hearing loss.

We will also continue to focus on building organisational capability, systems and performance, securing our long-term future through responsible operational and financial management.

As we continue our evolution, we are committed to positively engaging with our staff, clients, sector stakeholders, donors, volunteers and supporters, to ensure the ongoing provision of high-quality services for Australians with vision or hearing loss.

Sean P Wareing – RIDBC President

Chris Rehn – RIDBC Chief Executive