Cerebral Palsy Alliance looks to Vietnam to grow its impact

Not-for-profit organisation, the Cerebral Palsy Alliance, expands its mission overseas to improve the lives of people with neurological disorders.

NSW-based Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) has been leading care and research for cerebral palsy and other neurological disorders for more than 70 years. Originally known as the Spastic Centre, CPA has a long history of pioneering treatment, education, employment, recreation, independent living and research for people with cerebral palsy worldwide.

CPA now supports a range of neurological conditions beyond cerebral palsy which share common challenges. These conditions include acquired brain injury, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, development delay and Parkinson’s, among others.

CPA’s extensive expertise in supporting people to manage these disabilities is also being applied to assist with stroke recovery and ageing, where there are often physical, emotional and neurological impacts that lead to similar challenges for people.

Expanding its mission to near neighbouring countries

In recent years, CPA has begun exploring the opportunity to expand its mission into Asia in response to the rising community awareness and demand for support in these countries. After extensive strategic consideration, Vietnam was identified as a strong opportunity for CPA.

Vietnam was identified as a lead market based on existing linkages that CPA had with the country – including through many clinical and allied health specialists who are working in Vietnam.

CPA’s personnel are working directly or in partnership to undertake research; develop policy and clinical management guidelines; and deliver clinical care or advice across Vietnam.

For example, CPA researchers helped establish the first cerebral palsy register in Vietnam and hospital-based protocols for surveillance of cerebral palsy. CPA was also involved in numerous Vietnamese population studies focused on cerebral palsy published in recent years.

In terms of the market need, Vietnam has a high rate of cerebral palsy and high rates of autism and aged care – areas where CPA has considerable expertise.

No better way to learn than in-market

Austrade has worked closely with CPA to explore interest and develop relationships in-market since the organisation first decided to explore offshore opportunities.

After extensive consultations and planning by both CPA and Austrade, CPA embarked on an intensive one-week program of customised meetings in early 2019 to explore qualified leads. Meetings spanned public, private hospitals, universities, aged care providers and policymakers. Every single meeting resulted in a request for a memorandum of understanding or substantive follow-up. The challenge now is for CPA to respond to an unanticipated level of interest in and demand for its capabilities.

Austrade’s in-market representatives assisted CPA to understand and navigate the key decision-makers in the market. Translation and cultural support was also essential to the success of the on-ground program.

CPA is continuing to review and progress opportunities, with a strong focus on how it can best support sustainable sector development and required margins, while delivering its core business in Australia.

World-leading providers of disability support services, research and training

CPA is recognised internationally for its outstanding training, services and research leadership. Its remit supporting clients from birth to death means the organisation has the ability to impact lives directly and to undertake research that improves outcomes for people around the world.

In recent years, and partly in response to the changing face of disability services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), CPA has grown and systemised its extensive range of services.

CPA provides a range of services covering therapeutic and allied health services, accommodation, in-home services and disability support workers. Today it supports more than 5,000 clients annually in NSW alone.

In addition to its extensive clinical and support services, CPA encompasses training and research. It is a registered training organisation providing clinical and vocational training across disability and ageing services. CPA has also established a Research Foundation which supports the world-leading Cerebral Palsy Research Institute and the first-ever chair in Cerebral Palsy.

With offices in Sydney and New York, the CPA Research Foundation spends close to $40 million annually, funding research around the world.

Among its many notable achievements, the CPA Research Foundation has recently announced a trend in the decline in cerebral palsy in Australia over the last 10 years from around 1 in 500 children to 1 in 700 children.

The new frontier for Australian not-for-profits

The CPA model for service, training and research coordination and excellence is seen in other public health areas nationally where not-for-profits play a critical role. These organisations are highly motivated to bring together the highest-quality research, training and services and leading know-how from across the globe.

CPA, supported by Austrade, have blazed a trail for Australian expertise to make a difference in the lives of people around the world.

About Austrade

The Australian Trade and Investment Commission – Austrade – contributes to Australia’s economic prosperity by helping Australian businesses, education institutions, tourism operators, governments and citizens as they:

  • develop international markets
  • win productive foreign direct investment
  • promote international education
  • strengthen Australia’s tourism industry
  • seek consular and passport services.

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