Annecto Wendouree relaunch and open day - Annecto

Annecto Wendouree relaunch and open day

Annecto staff and customers gathering outside of the new Ballarat office.
On Tuesday 14 February, the Annecto Western and Grampians region team officially opened their new office in Wendouree, a suburb of Ballarat, VIC. While most people were sharing proofs of love on Valentine’s Day, our Annecto staff was working towards developing new relationships with locals from the Ballarat region.  

At 11 am, over 40 people – staff, customers, Board members, Wendouree locals and other stakeholders – gathered inside the new space for the opening ceremony. 

The ceremony started with an Acknowledgement of country performed by Shu Brown from the Ballarat and District Aboriginal Co-operative (BADAC), paying respect to the Traditional Custodians of the land on Wadawurrung Country, on which our office is located. 

Annecto staff, customers and stakeholders sitting in the Ballarat office, listening to speeches and clapping.

Frances O’Reilly, Executive Manager of Strategy, Research and Marketing and previous CEO of Merrimu, then spoke about the history and presence of the two organisations in the Grampians region. Annecto and Merrimu merged in 2019. 

“The reason why Merrimu settled on Annecto was the alignment of values. We had a very similar philosophy of putting the people that we work with and the people we support at the centre of what we do,” she said. 

“It is actually quite extraordinary how quickly our services have grown in Ballarat since the NDIS started. There's a lot of work that our staff have been doing in supporting people with a whole range of needs that don't necessarily get supported through other services.”

Frances O'Reilly smiling after her speech.

Frances then passed on the microphone to Annecto CEO Cheryl De Zilwa, who explained the importance of opening new offices that are close to the people we support. 

“We want to be truly part of the community in which we operate. So that people can come to us, walk in and find out how to navigate the NDIS or the aged care system,” Cheryl said. 

“We've grown significantly in this region because we deliver a great service, we've grown because we are good at what we do, and I feel proud and confident to say that. We've grown because the service that we deliver is needed.”

Afterwards, General Manager Carolynne Smith spoke about the services and supports that Annecto offers. She shared valuable insights about the work that we do, the importance and impact of it. She also mentioned the Specialist supports that the Ballarat office offers. 

"We support people who would be considered a ‘risk’ to the community, or that other organisations may see as too risky. Their reputation quite often precedes them. But when we hear a person’s story and current situation, we just don’t say ‘no’. What we ask is ‘what do you need, what is important to you?’. And we want to know how to do that, what we need from the system to help that person’s situation at that time, and how it can be different for them this time around,” Carolynne said.

Three Annecto staff, including General Manager Carolynne Smith, posing for the camera in the Wendouree office.

Finally, Annecto Board member Colleen Furnaletto addressed the audience in turn.

“We are all as individual as our own fingerprint, and that needs a service that is as unique as the individual […] And I would like to conclude by saying that it is a fundamental human right for people to have access to quality and safety in services, and we need to make sure that this happens, she concluded. 

Two Annecto Board members and CEO Cheryl De Zilwa posing for the camera in Wendouree office.

Front Door Recycling (FDR) participant Jem then closed the ceremony by cutting the ribbon. After that, the barbecue was fired up and everyone was able to grab some food and mingle. 

Annecto Wendouree customer cutting the ribbon to close the opening ceremony

Local radio 3BA covered the event and broadcast live from the Wendouree office for a few hours in the afternoon. Many locals stopped by for a chat and a bite to eat. Lots of fun was had by all on the sunny Tuesday afternoon, and many bonds between Annecto staff and the community of Ballarat started forming or grew stronger. 

For anyone who wasn’t able to join on the day or didn’t get a chance to ask the questions they wanted, the local team ran a few information sessions in the days following the event. 

The Wendouree office will have another open day on Friday 10 March to get to know the community better. Anyone is welcome to walk-in and ask questions about our services, aged care, the NDIS or employment opportunities.

If you would like to get in touch with the Ballarat team, you can call (03) 5303 9994 or simply walk in at 1225A Howitt Street, Wendouree 3355 VIC.