Annual Report 2019

This year at Challenge has been both exciting and demanding. Its a great time to be part of our organisation.

We look forward to sharing our accomplishments from the past year with you in this online version of our Annual Report.

The Annual Report may also be downloaded for you to read or print through the PDF button on the right.

Please use the tabs below as the menu to quickly and easily reach each section:

Challenge Annual Report 2019

Year in Review

Chairman's Letter

When I first arrived in Tamworth to join a local accounting firm, in 1971, the second task I undertook, in September that year, was overseeing the audit of the Tamworth and District Handicapped Children’s Association.

The Chairman of the Association at that time was John Simpson, who I got to know better, along with his wife Gwen, when I joined the Rotary Club of Tamworth in May 1973.

That Association has now, through various stages, become "Challenge Community Services". A unique situation where during 60 years there have only been three persons leading the Board. Kevin Kelly followed John Simpson and then handed over the reins to Ted Wilkinson in 2011. To have been given the opportunity to follow them as the Chair of the Board of this extraordinary organization is an honour for me and I pay special tribute at this time to Ted Wilkinson for his eight year tenure as the Chair of Challenge.

To have come from the entity I was first introduced to forty eight years ago to what Challenge is today, and the range of top class services now provided, far and wide, gives some insight to the extraordinary growth that in the FY2018-19 saw total revenue of over $80 million with projections for the current financial year standing at more than $92 million. Total staff numbers at June 2019 were 875.

Reflecting on the Board leadership shown by those three men I can only hope that I can adequately do my part in contributing to the wellbeing of all who form the family of Challenge, by helping maintain our vision to ensure people with disability, children and vulnerable members of the community have the same rights and opportunities as all other members of the community thus allowing them all to reach their potential.

Looking forward, we need to be aware of the fact that we have moved into a new environment where, because of the NDIS, in the majority of our areas of operation we now need to market our programs and services, most importantly to our current clients, as well as potential clients, to remain relevant. Foster Care remains as the only area of the Challenge operation funded outside the NDIS.

In our Business Services Division, which provides quality services to the community and meaningful employment for our clients, our Recycling units at both Tamworth and Narrabri face some interesting times with markets for glass and plastics, in particular, drying up. We will be calling on our local politicians, both State and Federal, to provide some meaningful assistance.

I know, by all working together, we have the team to move forward to greater things and on behalf of Board  I thank you all, whatever your role, for the dedication you show every day which goes to inspire, empower and develop people to enrich their lives, and the communities they live in, within an environment of continuous  improvement. We measure our success in this by continually reviewing what we do and seeking feedback from all stakeholders.

Winston Churchill is attributed with saying "However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results". How true.

Finally, I thank my fellow Board members, members of the various committees, our CEO, Barry Murphy, all managers and all our devoted team members for their genuine drive to help Challenge achieve its mission and I look forward to working with you all as we move into the future, although, maybe, not for as long as my predecessors.


bill warburton

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A Word from our CEO

This year at Challenge has been both exciting and demanding. Over the last seven years, Challenge has continued to grow by 15% each year. The FY2018-19 year was no exception. Our revenue for the year just completed was $80million. The difficulty that this "wonderful" problem presents is one of continually "playing catch up" in regards to staffing, resources, IT requirements and ongoing changes to systems and the way we do business. The very fact that we have reached this point, reasonably unscathed, is down to one thing only. Our people. Our Board, management team, operation managers and supervisors and our frontline staff, along with our families and carers continuing support have brought us to this point of being the major regional community service provider in New South Wales.

This accomplishment has been a real team effort, however, I would like to elaborate on the efforts of our frontline staff. In Foster Care, our case workers and in Disability Services, our support workers. We can have wonderful buildings, state-of-the-art systems and a great marketing scheme, however, it would all fall flat without dedicated, hard-working "coalface" staff.

With this in mind, we are currently reviewing how we do everything at Challenge, our strategic plan, our goals and vision must all start at the one point, our frontline staff.

I remember five years ago, at a meeting of our staff involved in the first trial of the NDIS. It had only been going for a short time and we had called the staff together to get their impressions. They had already seen that the success of a service provider revolved around being able to demonstrate their quality and capacities. One staff member asked me this question, "it's important that families and people with disability know who we are, are you going to increase the size of our marketing department?" (At the time our marketing department comprised of three people). I immediately answered yes. Our new marketing department will have 515 members. (The total number of people working with Challenge at that time) everyone involved in the organisation will be involved in marketing how well we do our job.

On reflection, this has proven to be true, but no more so than with our frontline staff. Word-of-mouth continues to be the most successful method of attracting new clients and carers to Challenge.

I am grateful to be part of that team. My thanks to our Board, who continue to lead, our families and our carers for your ongoing support and service and to everyone else involved in this wonderful organisation, my sincere thanks and congratulations on yet another successful year.


barry murphy

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Finance at a Glance

Challenge Community Services experienced remarkable growth in FY 2018/19, total revenue for the year grew from $69.6 million to $80 million, representing an increase of 15%. This revenue increase reflects a strong demand for our high quality services, in particular Supported Independent Living.

Staff and employment costs accounted for 61% of expenditure and direct out-of-home care expenses for 20%. This refl ects Challenge’s continued commitment to responsible stewardship of community assets.

Over the past year, we significantly improved the way we process National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) funding. We also developed systems to accommodate changes in Foster Care services.

In 2018 we became a participant of the New South Wales (NSW) container deposit scheme – Return and Earn, the largest litter reduction scheme introduced in NSW. We were thrilled by the support offered by Tamworth Regional Council to help us assist the community to recycle, as well as provide other much-needed support.

We would also like to thank the Federal and State governments for their funding streams, as well as local councils for their continued support.


TANIA MILLS - General Manager, Finance



total revenue chart charlie finance          expenses pie graph

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A Word on our People


Establishment of an infrastructure capable of ensuring Challenge Community Services is an employer of choice over the coming years was the focus of Human Resources during the past 12 report images4

The Human Resources team continued to provide the highest level of service to the managers, staff and employees across the organisation as well as to our clients.

Our Human Resources initiatives included:

  • Completing a holistic review of Challenge’s recruitment and onboarding approaches to ensure minimal operational disruption, whilst attracting the highest quality candidates
  • Transitioning to the associated industry awards to establish Challenge as a leader in operational excellence within the community services sector
  • Progressively undertaking a review of the Human Resources policies and procedures to aid in both the attraction and retention of staff
  • Commencing a staff/employee engagement program to ensure working environments are being continually enhanced, and our people are actively involved in achieving Challenge’s vision
  • Revisiting the Human Resources strategy to ensure that it is fit for purpose in allowing Challenge to deliver against its strategic plan, as it continues on its growth journey.

Challenge is committed to providing the best possible working environment for our staff and employees, in turn empowering them to deliver the highest level of support to our clients. The Human Resources initiatives we are working towards today will continue to build momentum for the remainder of FY2019-20 and beyond.


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Challenge 60 Year Celebrations

Disability Services

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Rheanne reaches her dreams and goals

Living with cerebral palsy, Rheanne has often been told by those around her that she would never achieve her goals of driving a car and living independently. But with the support of Challenge Disability Services, she has achieved this and more. Having aced her learner driver test, she has bought a car and is now focused on doing her 120 hours driving practice and getting her Ps.

Rheanne relocated from Port Macquarie to Tamworth to gain better access to the supports she needed, including Supported Independent Living.  Since living in her new home, Rheanne has become more independent and confident with the help of the support workers who go above and beyond to support people with disability to achieve more autonomy in their lives.

rheanne quote

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Business Services

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andrew image

Andrew works towards greater independence

A very dedicated employee, Andrew has worked for Secure Scanning Solutions in Tamworth for the past 17 years.  The open market enterprise is managed by Challenge Business Services and provides supported employment for 21 people with disability. Andrew processes and collates important documents for scanning. He has also carried out many other roles including secure pickup of documents, scanning documents and indexing scanned documents with new file names.

Having a job has been an important part of Andrew’s independence as well as being active in the community, getting outdoors and playing his favourite sport, lawn bowls. Looking to increase his autonomy for the future, Andrew also plans to transition into Challenge Supported Independent Living.

 andrew quote


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Foster Care

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Grandparents provide a stable home

Having already brought up three children, Doug* and Nancy* weren’t expecting to care for a second family. But when their daughter-in-law’s behaviour, who was struggling with alcohol issues, became more unpredictable, Katie* and Damian* needed a permanent, stable home where they could belong and feel safe.

Katie and Damian were becoming more and more anxious about living with their mother. The children made it clear to their grandparents that they wanted to live with them permanently and have a normal home life. Once the children were feeling safe in their home and settled into new schools, it was a natural progression for Doug and Nancy to apply for guardianship. The children are still in contact with their mother and their father visits regularly.


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*Identifying details have been changed

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Therapeutic Services

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Chris takes control with the NDIS

 When Chris* decided he needed to improve his mental health and behavioural issues, he sought the support of Challenge Therapeutic Services. Initially Chris was referred to Challenge by his GP under a mental health plan, and was struggling to meet the fee gap for professional services. Through his NDIS plan, Chris was able to continue his sessions at Challenge, which was his provider of choice, and receive the funding he needed to pay for the sessions.

 Under his NDIS plan, Chris’ psychologist worked with him to successfully navigate his financial hurdles and devise a plan to manage his behaviour related to his disability. Over the past 18 months, Chris has gained control of his aggression and improved his capacity to maintain meaningful friendships.

 ts quote


*Identifying details have been changes

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Thanks and Acknowledgements

Ability Links NSW
Back Track
Bullimbal School Tamworth
Bunnings Taree
Bunnings Warehouse Tamworth
Castle Personnel
Cessnock Hornets
Cheryl Royle, Hunter Futurepreneurs
CREATE Foundation
Danielle Northey
Eddies Fresh Chickens
Enabled Employment
Fiona Henriques & George Ballas,
ComServ Professionals
Flourish Australia
Greater Bank Armidale
Gunnedah Shire Council
Hudson St Hum
Hunter Accounting Services
Ian Edwards, The Blind Chef
John Treddinick
Macquarie University
National Disability Services
Newcastle City Council
Olivia Star
QBE Lismore
Ralph Naden
Regional Australia Bank
Regional Australia Bank
Riding for Disabled Association Tamworth
Singleton Rugby Club
Sophie MacPherson, Porky’s Nest
South Tamworth Bowling Club
Tamworth Aboriginal Children’s Services
Tamworth Family Referral Centre
Tamworth Family Support Service
Tamworth Regional Council
Tamworth Regional Gallery
University of Newcastle
University of Newcastle, Tamworth Campus
University of Technology Sydney
Valued Customers of the Connexions Café
Warwick Bennet
Wendy Blackmore
Whitehaven Coal
Will Creedon
Yalmambirra Boogijoon Doolin Cultural Camp


Department of Education
Department of Health
Department of Social Services
National Disability Insurance Agency


NSW Department of Family and Community Services Housing NSW


Amelia, Elise and Emily, CREATE Foundation
Colleen Mullins & Tammy Prince-Doyle, FISH
Gauri Ahuja, My Forever Family
Janet Schorer, Office of the Children’s Guardian
Lowana West & Tasma Harrison, Walamarra
Program, Dubbo Zoo
Matt Purcell
Monica Lamelas, ACWA
Vicki Day & Lisa Proctor, FACS
Connie Ellis
Jo Kelly
Kym Plowman
Margaret Forrest
Matthew Pearce
Natalie Sanderson
Samantha Malpass
Veronica Heald

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About Challenge Community Services

Over 60 years ago we were a small band of parents and friends seeking support services for our children with disability. Today, Challenge has grown to be one of the largest community support services in New South Wales. We provide support to over 2500 people from Albury to Lismore, Sydney, Dubbo, Tamworth and beyond. With over 900 staff, more than 90 of which have a disability, we strive to comply with and exceed all standards required under State and Federal Acts.
In the spirit of Reconciliation, Challenge Community Services acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of this country, and their connection to land, water and community. We pay our respect to them, their cultures and customs, and to Elders both past and present.
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