WESTERN District Employ-ment Access (WDEA) had a big year of expansion in 2012-13, increasing its client numbers and the number of its offices.
However the big expansion came at a cost with the not-for-profit employment and disability services agency recording a loss of $110,015 for the 2012-2013 financial year.
WDEA chief executive officer Mick White said the deficit followed its unbudgeted expansion into Bendigo and Castlemaine and expansion of its Ballarat office.
The agency also expanded its Ararat office and opened new headquarters in Warrnambool.
WDEA presently operates in 10 cities and employs more than 320 people.
Mr White said the extra expense of bringing former Vantage programs up to WDEA’s operational standards had contributed to the loss. WDEA took over Vantage — a day services and supported work environment for people with disability — in 2011 following an approach by Vantage.
The Vantage businesses included a number of loss makers.
Mr White said another factor in the loss was a tightening in the local job market.
WDEA’s annual report shows it supported more than 4200 people during 2012-13, which included an increase of 250 disability clients.
WDEA had 3100 people in its Job Services Australia program and 1100 receiving service through the Disability Employment Service.
Successful tenders for new disability employment programs resulted in the substantial increase in client numbers.
Mr White said WDEA’s Jobs Services Australia and disability employment programs were performing consistently across all sites.
WDEA was preparing for a new round of tenders for programs and the key to success would be maintaining consistently high performance in all programs, he said.
“We will be increasing the level of staff training to ensure our staff are providing a high level of service to all our clients,” he said.
Mr White said all WDEA Enterprises in the Australian Disability Enterprises program presently had a reasonable level of operational efficiency.
The enterprises include ClearCut Gardening, Nigretta Hamilton, artcycle, Fresh Cut Herbs, eWaste Recycling and Steam and Clean Warrnambool.
Mr White said WDEA would continue to ensure the enterprises remained competitive to provide ongoing employment to staff. Each week more than 30 clients with disabilities are supported in day service programs.