For not-for-profit organisations, owning their own property assets dramatically helps improve their financial sustainability, and also has a significant positive social impact. Sunshine Coast Independent Living Services (SCILS) is an example of how property ownership has provided an outcome that has long lasting benefits to the community.


“You have to be sure that you’re doing the right thing and that you’re on the right track. I’m an ex-banker, and a “management accountant”. I look at the figures and the problem with renting is that you’re not ever in control on how much rent you’ll be paying versus buying your own property. And besides, there are so many things you can’t do in a rental property.” said Jennie James, SCILS Business and Finance Manager


SCILS’ core purpose is to develop and implement strategies that support adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities through various programmes and pathways.


SCILS’ story began more than 20 years ago with a local family whose son had a disability – they were frustrated with the lack of support in the area. Wanting to make a difference, they set up a facility to be run locally for people in the community with a disability.


A full range of independent living skills using a comprehensive program is delivered by educated and experienced staff. SCILS strives to enhance and empower the independence of their client base so they can reach their full potential.


SCILS has come from humble beginnings – initially operating out of a garage, then in a rented room in town, then a rented house. In between – now and then – they decided to move out of the original location and enter into a five year lease of a new property.


They soon discovered that the property design did not suit the needs of people with a disability and realised they needed to own their own property that met the needs of their clients.


SCILS then formulated a plan to realise their vision: to develop the site at their original location and return operations to the site in 2013.


“Our clients are actually very excited. They don’t necessarily like change.”Jennie James said.


They were able to realise part of this vision with the sale proceeds from another property they owned at a nearby.


After an unfavourable experience with a mainstream bank, SCILS approached Foresters Community Finance, who were able to develop a tailored loan that suited the needs of SCILS, helping them to achieve their community development objectives in a financially and socially sustainable way.


“The biggest shock I had was that a mainstream bank refused to support us.” Jennie remarked.


Acquisition and development of the property gave SCILS the opportunity to strategically plan for the future and provide a specially designed new space for disabled people in the community, where they are able to conduct training, learning and social programmes.


“You know when you’ve got a place you’re renting for five years, you only have the ability to make plans for those five years. Whereas when you’ve established your organisation somewhere, you can really begin to make longer term plans. And, it’s yours, you can see what you can do.”



Foresters Community Finance Limited is a Community Development Finance Institution (CDFI) providing finance and investment capital to the community sector in Australia. Our goal is to employ community finance and social investment strategies to service and support people, organisations and communities who have limited access to mainstream financial institutions.


Organisation Details
35 Brookes Street, Bowen Hills QLD 4006
Contact details: 

+61 7 3851 8000