WESTERN District Employment Access (WDEA) has reported a big growth year for 2011-12 despite subdued economic activity.
WDEA acquired the former Vantage Incorporated’s businesses which included loss-makers, but still managed to achieve a profit of more than $1 million.
It increased its core services and expanded its annual turnover to $15 million during the past 12 months, $4 million more than the previous year.
In WDEA’s annual report released last week, chief executive officer Mick White said taking over Vantage Incorporated had in-creased WDEA’s workforce by 120 people and put the organisation at the forefront of disability service delivery across south-west Victoria.
WDEA spent more than $1 million on former Vantage businesses, in-cluding clearing their debts and undertaking a full occupational, health and safety review.
“I believe we need another 12 months to bring all arms of the business into profit, thereby ensuring ongoing employment for all our employees,” Mr White said.
Mr White attributed WDEA’s continued growth to the diversification of its activities from helping people with disabilities enter the workforce, to mainstream employment services, and working with people with disabilities in a supported environment.
Mr White said economic activity had slowed throughout the region during 2011-12 but he was optimistic an upswing was coming.
WDEA’s placement of 530 trainees in 2011-12 was close to the number it had placed in the past two years, indicating businesses it dealt with had not suffered any big downturn.
In the past year, WDEA also placed 520 people into disability employment and found positions for 1900 people in its Job Services Australia service across its sites in Ararat, Ballarat, Colac, Hamilton, Horsham, Portland, Stawell and Warrnambool.