COMPASS BEGAN LIFE IN 1991 AS A REAL GRASSROOTS COMMUNITY ORGANISATION

Compass has rewritten the rule book about what a Disability Service looks like and what it can achieve. Along the way it has won numerous significant awards and garnered incredible community and corporate support. It is the fastest growing service of its kind in Queensland and uniquely has developed a wide range of social enterprises that provide amazing vocational opportunities for its trainees. Above everything else it has helped young people with disabilities and their families to dream and then to achieve those dreams.

Commencing in 1991 the organisation provided Alternative Education programmes to youth at risk in local secondary and primary schools during the day while running traditional martial arts classes in Aikido for children, youth and adults five nights a week and Saturday mornings.

The schedule was extremely taxing for the small number of poorly paid staff and volunteers however, without one cent of government funding, over 7,000 school students accessed and benefited from an evergrowing range of specialist programmes. To this day our community reaps the benefit of that very considerable intervention.

In 2000 the Institute received funding from the Department of Sport & Recreation to conduct Strategic Planning Workshops and construct a strategic plan to guide our growth. One of the key recommendations was the development of a Disability Service to support young people in their transition from secondary school to life in their community.

CEO David Dangerfield had studied and trained in New Zealand through the 1980′s and had experienced a service model that was both developmental and transitional. Compass uniquely weaved this model with a core of traditional martial art philosophy and set about creating innovative policies and procedures where quality is deeply embedded in the service at every level.

The Compass Day Programme commenced in 2003 with 3 trainees and one staff member. The service has experienced approximately 60% per annum growth. In that first year of operation the organisation was awarded Outstanding Service Provider of the Year and was runner up in the Innovative Programmes category. In 2004 we were chosen by Backyard Blitz to receive a garden makeover as a result of our strong community focus. In 2005 four trainees jointly won the Junior Citizen of the Year award at the local Australia Day celebrations, again because of the contribution our service makes to the community. Currently we have over 145 trainees and 80 staff across five centres in Queensland – Palmwoods, Hunchy, Caloundra, Caboolture, Gympie, and several micro-businesses that are based on the social enterprise model which provides flexible vocational opportunities to over 70 people with disabilities. The social enterprises include the 20 acre Compass Farm, Connections Cafe, Harvest Kitchen, Wabi Sabi, The Garden Cafe, Rakes and Panes and Earth & Wood.

The Compass Institute Inc.