Are-able (formerly WDEA Works) started in 1989 as a service to help clients with a disability enter the workforce. Starting with three employees, are-able 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 like The Socialisers (a social group for people with a disability) and Futures for Young Adults were established.
In 1998, are-able obtained contracts to deliver a number of additional services, most notably Job Network – an open employment service for all unemployed job seekers, regardless of barriers to employment.
By 2008, are-able was quickly expanding. The Disability Employment Services and Job Network programs were joined by:
- 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, are-able opened offices in Ballarat, Ararat, Stawell and Horsham to deliver the Job Services Australia program (formerly known as Job Network).
In 2010, shortly after expanding into central-western Victoria, are-able was able to kickstart its Disability Employment Services at these new sites.
In 2011, are-able was approached by Vantage Inc. – a day services and supported work environment for people with disability. In an exciting move, are-able incorporated Vantage into our services. Vantage’s supported work environments became known as “are-able Social Enterprises”, while day services fell under the “are-able Community” moniker.
In 2013, are-able started delivering Disability Employment Services in Bendigo and Castlemaine, and opened an office in Shepparton in 2014. 2013 also saw are-able add a training arm to the business, incorporating Balance Training Services under the banner of “are-able Training”.
Since 1989, are-able has created many support programs to assist those living with disability. Programs such as the Socialisers, ArtLink, CareerLink and the growth of are-able’s 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 our commitment to helping the most vulnerable members of our community.
Are-able now operates full-time sites across in Victoria and South Australia, and employs over 400 people.