ImagineBetter’s story began in 2001, when it was founded by AccessAbility as ‘Standards Plus’, in response to the development of the New Zealand Disability Strategy. The focus of the organisation’s early work was to put the disability strategy into practice with disabled people and their families.
Standards Plus began by assisting people, whānau and organisations that wanted a different option from traditional support services. The organisation looked at leading international disability practices and used these as inspiration for creating change in New Zealand.
In 2008, Standards Plus became ImagineBetter, with Lorna Sullivan as its Chief Executive. Its reviewed purpose was to educate the disability sector, with the goal of moving towards individually designed supports for disabled people. Its ambition was for disabled people to live self-fulfilled lives as valued members of society.
The ImagineBetter team expanded and the organisation began receiving national and international recognition for its service quality and innovation.
In 2012, ImagineBetter merged with Voice Advocacy Trust, an organisation providing independent advocacy services. ImagineBetter had worked with the Trust since its creation. The Trust was disestablished in early 2015 after it became difficult to secure funding.
ImagineBetter has always relied financially on external funding and donations, as well as revenue from running events, providing resources and consulting. It continues to be a small, independent, not-for-profit organisation.
In September 2014, ImagineBetter secured the contract to run Local Area Coordination in the Bay of Plenty and Lakes District. Local Area Coordination aligns with ImagineBetter’s purpose: working with disabled people and families as they imagine and plan for the life they want.
Local Area Coordination was extended to the Lakes District in 2015.
Today ImagineBetter’s purpose remains true to its original intent: to advance the self-determination and social value of disabled people within New Zealand. The organisation continues to receive national and international praise for its innovative work with disabled people, whānau, organisations and communities.