20 May 2023

Ryan is passionate about taking Wagga's disability services in a new direction

| Chris Roe
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New Directions CEO Ryan Quarmby says local decision-making was a missing component in regional disability services. Photo: Chris Roe.

For Ryan Quarmby, maintaining a positive workplace culture has been fundamental in the rapid growth of Wagga’s New Directions Disability Services.

As the director of the Wagga-based NDIS provider, Ryan says it’s about putting people first.

“We’re so passionate about what we do that it’s really not like going to work at all to be honest,” he says.

Being local is also an important part of New Directions’ philosophy and is at the core of the mission statement.

“We are local and will be staying local,” it reads.

“We want the highest quality of support for all our clients and their families.

“We are a company that is embraced and loved equally by our staff and our clients.”

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Ryan describes himself as “Wagga born and bred” and has worked in disability services for his whole life.

“My mum was actually the CEO of a disability nonprofit, and I started when I was 17 as a volunteer support worker and then I went to uni and did a disability-specific degree,” he says.

After spending the past two decades working for different private and government organisations in the disability sector, he felt something was missing.

“I was working for really large disability companies that weren’t really locally based and just had head offices in central points and lots of local branches, and for me, it lacked that real focus on having decision-making locally,” he says, explaining why he took the leap and established his own company in his hometown.

“I felt it was important for the CEO to be just as accessible as the support worker and really knowing the people you support and knowing the staff,” Ryan says.

“Our motto for New Directions is ‘Where your choice matters’, and we’ve kept that at the forefront for the past four years.

“We make decisions together. We’re all about the Wagga local community and we’re not expanding past that.”

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New Directions has grown to care for around 450 NDIS participants, employing more than 220 staff and managing more than 20 supported living homes in Wagga.

“They range from purpose-built disability homes to private rentals,” Ryan says.

“We’ve been fortunate being local that we’ve known a lot of people who have helped us get the right properties and to build a couple of new purpose-built ones for us, which are really beautiful homes.

“We’ve had all local investors, so that there’s nothing done outside of Wagga, and we’ve just worked together to get it done.”

Looking ahead, Ryan says they want to expand the number of purpose-built facilities and already have a number of new projects underway.

“In the past, disability services often had to rely on whatever you could get in terms of local rentals and just do your best with some minor modifications,” he says.

“But when it’s purpose-built, it’s just so much more accessible and it just gives so much more opportunities for people.

“It’s all about everyone working together and we just want to keep doing that as well as we can for as long as we can in Wagga.”

You can learn more about New Directions here.

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