Major merger for McCallum and BRI

October 14, 2021 BY

United: McCallum CEO Tyrone McCuskey and BRI CEO Geoff Russell are ready to join forces to improve employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Photo: EDWINA WILLIAMS

TWO Ballarat disability support organisations are set to merge, forming the region’s biggest employment social enterprise.

By the end of next month, Ballarat Regional Industries and McCallum Disability Services will be united, keeping their current names but supporting and empowering over 600 adults with disabilities through employment opportunities as one entity.

McCallum CEO Tyrone McCuskey has been appointed the joint operation’s CEO, while BRI CEO Geoff Russell will transition to a merger facilitation and support role.

“The two organisations have been working together for many years, and we’ve talked about mergers in the past because we share similar values and visions about empowering people through employment, so this is a natural extension of a business relationship,” Mr McCuskey said.

“Coming out of COVID, there’s a great opportunity for us to get together, share resources, talent and pool ideas around how we can provide individuals who live with a disability more services than just employment, and to provide our commercial customers more chances to do business with us.

“We’ve got a lot of complementary businesses. BRI has a lot of food packaging, while we do industrial packaging. They’re in landscape gardening, and we do a bit of home gardening. There’s a lot of synergies.”

Mr Russell said the merger will generate more flexible career development and advancement opportunities for the social enterprise’s workforce, boost service provision, membership, partnerships in commerce, and community connectedness.

“By bringing these two longstanding Ballarat organisations together, we are strengthening services for the people of Ballarat,” he said.

“We are proud of the opportunities we provide for people with disabilities. We give them real jobs in the recycling, packaging, event management, manufacturing, and maintenance sectors; jobs that make a difference to their lives and to the commercial partners for whom we are fulfilling contracts.

“We work together, we have done for years, aren’t enemies and never have been. We’re here for the one purpose, to provide the greatest opportunity we can for people living with a disability, in a whole range of areas.”

Mr McCuskey said McCallum and BRI’s independent directors want to make sure the organisations stay strong in the long term, and that their programs are run and governed locally.

“Together, we’ve provided over 100 years of community services and are a community asset. We’re passionate about keeping it local for local families,” he said.

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