News | 22 July 2016

Helping people achieve and winning big along the way

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Telstra Business Awards - NT

Helping People Achieve is a Darwin based non-government disability service provider. They have been breaking barriers since 1963, and have just become the first charity to win the Telstra Northern Territory Business of the Year Award.

It’s a big deal! Every Australian Counts spoke to HPA’s Chief Executive Officer, Tony Burns to find out more.

Congratulations! What does the award mean to you?

It was a pretty incredible moment, a really surreal and special moment, and it’s also the first time a charity has won the award.

It means everything, to be behind an organisation that has had so much passion and purpose for so long.

It’s recognition for so many years of service, and being acknowledged as a serious player. Not just a charity, but a business that’s making great outcomes and inspiring people to come to work and have passion and purpose.

It also shows how much people are with us. Someone from our community who has a family member who’s been with HPA for 25 years wrote a letter to the Editor saying how great HPA has been, and that she’d change telecommunications company if we didn’t win the award!

What’s the thinking behind HPA?

The passion behind HPA has been here since 1963, and to see the business really unfold and move through a change in the culture has been really special. When I came in I really flipped the culture around, to focus on the possibilities rather than focusing on people’s disability.

When HPA began it was called the ‘Handicapped Person Association’ – but I decided to focus on what people could do and achieve, rather than the disability. So we changed the name to ‘Helping People Achieve’.

Our whole mantra is focus on possibilities, lets focus on great outcomes, and what people can do.

Tell us about the HPA team and community?

We’ve got some amazing people working for us will all types of challenges. We have 100 staff, and of those staff, 68 have a disability. Some of those staff members have been with us for 25-30 years.

They all have really heartfelt stories, and so much passion and drive. I try to be an advocate and push their message to the wider community to really tell their stories.

What’s been the feedback so far?

It’s been incredible! The other day I had a family member of one of our staff stop me in the shops to say “David’s so happy, he’s never been more happy to work for HPA,” and it’s because we focus on the things he can achieve not his disability.

If our staff weren’t working with us they’d probably be at home playing Play Station, and they’d also be dependent on disability pensions.

I believe if you love what you do in life then great things come – you can see that from the smiles on people’s faces, and that we can help people to keep moving in a stronger direction. We’re a big part of our local community.

Why work in the disability sector?

We have a unique opportunity to impact lives. We have the chance to break down barriers, achieve great outcomes and make some very positive change.

Our people are doing some amazing things, and you can see that from all the sweat and tears – and enjoyment and love!

What will the NDIS mean for you?

The NDIS is a very complex process that we’re going through, but to have the opportunity to make this positive change for the sector is a great thing

We’re learning and absorbing everything to be part of that journey to assist people.

From a business point of view there’s going to be a big change, but I look at it as a positive change. As long as we can follow our pathways and continue being a choice for people to use our service to help them achieve their goals.

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