Active Ability: ESSA’s 2022 Practice of the Year

19 December 2023

Freshly graduated as Accredited Exercise Physiologists (AEPs), Kara and Amanda stood at a crossroads in their careers. Their recent completion of a research project involving adults with intellectual disabilities served as an eye-opening experience, revealing a significant gap in the delivery of exercise physiology services within the disability sector.

The research project exposed a void too big to be overlooked. In response, Kara and Amanda took the initiative to establish Active Ability. Their endeavour? To deliver specialised exercise physiology support tailored for individuals living with disability.

Early on, Active Ability encountered plenty of uncertainties and challenges. But their diligent efforts paid off over time, garnering widespread recognition. As well as earning ESSA’s Practice of the Year in 2022, the organisation also received the Most Outstanding Allied Health Organisation award at the Australian Disability Service Awards.

This accolade not only celebrated their accomplishments, but also acted as a catalyst for growth. AEPs nationwide expressed interest in joining the ranks of Active Ability, pulled by a shared passion to give power to the disability community.

With such recognition, the founders charted a vision for Active Ability’s future: to empower 10,000 individuals within the disability community by 2030 through expert mobile therapy. The plan involved expanding Active Ability services along the east coast of Australia, collaborating with disability organisations, introducing additional disciplines and services, and initiating a community give-back program.

Active Ability’s journey has not been without its hurdles, particularly in navigating the intricate landscape of the NDIS. Active Ability distinguished itself through a commitment to maximising client outcomes, implementing a no-travel-fee policy, eliminating waitlists and maintaining a committed focus on disability.

However, Kara and Amanda’s contributions have extended beyond building their business. Recognising the power of collective advocacy, they founded the NSW EP NDIS Network  with the objective of uniting exercise physiologists to campaign for price parity. The Network’s impact was evident in the increasing number of submissions to the NDIS’s annual pricing review consultation, a testament to their dedication to creating positive change.

Active Ability continues to evolve, driven by compassion, integrity, and a people-first approach. The duo, alongside their expanding team, remains steadfast in their mission to empower the disability community, one mobile therapy service at a time.