In 1981 an inaugural meeting was held in Dunedin. It was convened and chaired by Bob Booth, of Disabled Citizens’ Society, Otago (now Cargill Enterprises). Ten organisations attended, including Auckland Protected Employment Trust (now APET Enterprises), Auckland Sheltered Workshop and Training Centre (now Workforce Auckland) and Wellington After-Care Association
In 1982 we were incorporated as the NZ Federation of Sheltered Workshops
In 1983 the first meeting with politicians in Wellington was noted. This was chaired by Jim Bolger (Minister of Labour), Venn Young (Minister of Social Welfare) and Keith Allen (Minister of Customs). It was noted that “some matters were too difficult to deal with and held over” and the politicians advised that our representations to government would be stronger if we were allied with other groups.
By 1987 the organisation had grown to 18 members
In 1991 the name changed to NZ Federation of Enterprise and Achievement
In 1992 a representative from the new government funding agency (CFA) attended the meeting and was asked 24 questions from the floor. The minutes make the first mention of supported employment and SAMS.
Also in 1992, the Federation entered a group purchasing scheme with n3 (formerly known as GSB)
In 1995 our name changed to NZ Federation of Vocational and Support Services, Inc
In 1999 the research project into Best Practice Guidelines for vocational services was undertaken. The average number of people attending meetings was 18. Our current logo was designed by Cargill Enterprises. VASS was invited to join IPWH (now Workability International)
Furthermore in 1999, the President, Robyn Klos and Vice President, Ian Baker, were nominated to the government’s Vocational Services Review Committee and our first major conference was held in Rotorua. The theme was “Quality of Life” and 135 delegates attended
1999 also saw the research document “Towards Vocational and Support Services in the 21st Century” published. This formed the basis of the best practise guidelines
In 2001 “Aiming for Excellence – Best Practise Guidelines for Vocational Services” was launched at Parliament, hosted by Hon. Ruth Dyson. This was followed by implementation seminars which were held around the country. The government’s vocational services strategy, “Pathways to Inclusion”, launched.
In 2002 VASS obtained a grant from JR McKenzie Trust to publish a best practice journal. The “Beyond Rhetoric – What Works?” Conference was held in Hamilton with around 200 attendees
By 2002 the average number of people attending meetings had grown to 35
In 2003 the Peer Mentoring Project began. A Hui for Maori service providers was held, the VASS Maori Roopu was established and a Kaumatua appointed. The conference “On the Right Path”, was held in Wellington with around 200 attendees
In 2004 “Future Leaders”, a leadership development programme, run by Paardekooper Associates was delivered. VASS obtained a MSD contract to adminster the “Training and Workforce Development Fund”
2004 also saw VASS establish an office at 9 Holland Street, Te Aro, which was staffed by two part-time staff (Executive Officer and Office Administrator).
In 2005 we undertook a research project to develop a NZ Wage Assessment Tool. VASS hosted the Workability International Conference in Christchurch. A Strategic Planning Guide was published and a project to develop priniciples of excellence for employment support was undertaken. “Personal Planning” seminars were organised, delivered by SAMS and funded through the Training Fund.
By 2005 the average number of people attending meetings had increased to 48
2006 saw the “Principles of Excellence for Employment Support” published and launched by Hon. Ruth Dyson. The “Thinking Smarter” conference was held in Rotorua, attracting 215 delegates
In 2007 “Challenging Behaviours” training was organised, delivered by IAHS and funded through the Training Fund. The VASS Wage Assessment Tool was launched, and training begun
2007 also saw the Business Enterprise Transition Fund adminstrated on behalf of MSD, and membership increased to 67 organisations
2008 saw a 13% growth in membership, from 67 to 76 member organisations. New forms of communication were launched this year, such as the VASS quarterly newsletter and the Quick Update that provides information on current issues affecting the disability sector. VASS hosted a successful “Beyond Boundaries” conference in this year.
VASS’s Constitution was also reviewed and redrafted in 2008, a year which saw VASS register with the Charities Commission
In 2008 VASS board members were involved in the Ministry of Health Disability Workforce Advisory Group, were a strategy for developing the sector workforce was drafted.
In 2009 a change of government resulted in Day Service funding moving from the Ministry of Health to the Ministry of Social Development. VASS assisted SAMS in developing and launching the Foundation Principles for Community Participation
A grant was also obtained in 2009 from the Lotteries Community Research Fund to develop community participation resources. Membership grew to 80 organisations.
2010 saw the launch of the Tuhana – Facilitating Inclusive Communities website. VASS joined ComVoices, and also hosted the “Allies and Collaborators” conference, one of our most successful conferences to date.
The Business Enterprise Sustainability Project was undertaken in 2010.
In 2012 VASS launched One Fish Solutions. One Fish Solutions is a unique organisational learning and development service designed by community organisations for community organisations.
In 2013 the VASS supported initiative The MoreAble Network was launched. The MoreAble Network comprises five VASS members who are social enterprises and who offer a range of quality business and community services.
In March 2015 VASS changed its name to Inclusive NZ – a network for change.