5 Questions with Andrew Rowley - CEO Ability First Australia

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Andrew has been Managing Director of Ability First Australia (AFA) since 2012. Andrew has over 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit, education and commercial sector.

Under Andrew’s leadership, AFA has established itself as the only strategic alliance in the disability industry.

What is Ability First’s purpose?

AFA is a national industry body representing the interests of 15 of Australia’s oldest and largest disability service providers. These providers have supplied a range of support services to people with disability who have some of the most complex needs. The providers that form AFA provide over $2.5 Billion of services from over 200 locations across Australia to over 25% of participants in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

What is the most rewarding part of your role?

The most rewarding part of my role is supporting our member organisations to support people with disability to achieve their very best, in whatever the situation and in whatever way they want to live their lives.

How do you manage such a diverse group of stakeholders?

Having been at AFA for over 10 years now I have learnt a lot in terms of managing a diverse range of stakeholders. To me the key to my role is open, consistent, and transparent communication – no matter how good or bad.

What can the broader community do to support Ability First?

Whilst the NDIS is a considerable focus for us, it can’t and shouldn’t be expected to do everything. We always need support and funding for the extra programs we undertake. If anyone is interested in supporting us they can go to our website or email us at info@abilityfirst.org.au . Any support either by volunteering or by donations would be amazing.

What does the partnership with Anchorage and support received provide to Ability First?  

Anchorage have been amazing supporters since AFA was formed about 13 years ago. AFA would not be the organisation it is today without this support. We don’t like to refer to our relationship as a “partnership” as we are certainly all considered part of the same family. Not only does Anchorage provide generous donations to our work, but the team are also very engaged in our programs. In recent years, we have also been working with their portfolio companies on employment programs for people with disability.

Andrew Rowley