March 2017

APAC / March 2017 105 , Award-winning CEO, Ingrid Airlie of I AmHere, A Place To BeMe, talks to APAC Insider about the company and how it came to fruition. Disability in the APAC Region Ingrid Airlie tells us more about the firm and the rationale behind it. “We are a small not-for-profit organisation, a quiet achiever in the disability sector for more than 20 years. Founded by two mothers whose sons suffered brain injuries in sporting and road accidents, we provide specialist respite for children, adolescents and adults with acquired brain injury, however recent expansion sees us now care for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. “We have a modern centrally- located house in the beautiful Hunter Valley region situated close to beaches, the lake and the Hunter Vineyards. Our focus is to give people with disabilities a great lifestyle. I keep focussed on the future, I like to be one step ahead working on the business more than in it. I have a great executive team and staff who thrive on making this house a home away from home - they are all captains of their specialty.” Ingrid tells us about the industry she specialises in and how it has changed over the years. “The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) has affected the disability industry per se, however we decided to move with it not against it and we have rebranded, focussed on our core business and economies of scale featuring our personalised care model. The NDIS, whilst fractious in its implementation, has meant the disability sector had to take an inward look at itself. We look forward to the improved learnings currently taking place within the NDIS and for this we are grateful. Perhaps the new NDIS CEO will have a positive impact.” The Motivating the Workforce is an interesting one, as Ingrid explains. “This decade will see more recognition of people with a disability. The Asian and Pacific Decade of Persons with Disabilities, 2013-2022 will accelerate realisation of these rights. It is believed that there are an estimated 650 million people with disabilities in the APAC region – the majority of them poor, disadvantaged and discriminated against.” Technology has come on in leaps and bounds since the inception of the company, and Ingrid embellishes on just how important technology is within the disability sector. “Technology and systems are highly important to help us inform and audit all aspects of the business,” she states. “We need to turn to technology to reduce overheads and increase efficiencies. We can demonstrate its effectiveness when we can use the information to our advantage to continually improve our care and service. We always want to provide optimum care.” Being an award-winning CEO is not without its challenges, and Ingrid tells us the key attributes she possess which have helped lead to her success, and also what keeps her motivated to continue to be a high achiever. “I am a change agent so the great challenge is taking people on your journey. There is a need for more change agents in the disability sector. Representing a fair go for people with a disability is important. I always aim for fairness, a “win-win” for all and continual evaluation to keep improving. Reluctantly, I see my attributes as curious, tenacious, creative, fair and kind. “Acquired Brain Injury is life changing. I’m motivated by the people we care for, their everyday struggle with their disability keeps me focussed on the next frontier for them. I’m humbled by the interaction between the people we care for and our staff - Inspiration is everywhere here, it keeps me focussed on the next level. Our success is related to the people we care for – if they are happy and living a full life, we are successful.” Ingrid has high hopes for the future, both in her position as CEO and with regards to the company too. “I see myself replicating our model of care in an expansion of our service with new purpose built facilities. This person- centred care model together with trained and caring staff is worth bottling. I would also like to have some board appointments, something I’m starting to work towards now. “For the company, there are two dream projects in the not- too-distant-future. The first is a new facility for children with a disability including autism (government and private sector funded). And, a ranch-style home in the Hunter Valley featuring accommodation for young people who would usually need to be cared for in an aged care facility. Young people should never live in aged care facilities because there is nowhere else for them to go.” K Company: I Am Here, A place to be me. Name: Ingrid Airlie Email: [email protected] Web Address: Address: 18 Isabella Close Elermore Vale Telephone: 4965 8111 1701AP34