Innovative Resources - 30th Anniversary

30th Anniversary

Innovative Resources is proud to celebrate our 30th anniversary as Australia’s leading organisation in the development of resources from card sets, group training and e-learning that support practitioners to work with people to discover and build upon everyday strengths in their lives and create meaningful change.

As we mark the 30th anniversary of Innovative Resources, we would like to take a moment to reflect upon the journey, not just as a business, but of the commitment to everyone that uses our resources, from social workers, psychologists, counsellors, therapists, educators and human services workers, as well as clients, families and individuals.

To everyone that has seen value and inspiration in using our resources, and every person who has taken comfort, been challenged, or has used our resources to facilitate meaningful change, we thank you for supporting us throughout our three decades and we look forward to the future as we continue to evolve as a business in response to changes in our environment and the needs within our community.

To all of our authors, designers, collaborators, current and former employees, who’s talent and dedication to producing high quality resources over 30 years has been nothing short of amazing, we thank you for your passion and contribution!


New funding within family services, plus a ground swell of energy within St Luke’s led to an initiative named the product development unit being created. Four St Luke’s social workers (Russel Deal, Di O’Neil, Bernadette Glass and Monica Rowland) were tasked with researching the possibilities of creating a hands on tool that social workers could use with clients, focussing on the new strengths-based approach to social work.

Russell DealIR founder, Russel Deal


Out of this think tank came the development and production of the very first product for what would one day become Innovative Resources, Strength Cards.

The initial idea was for a simple set of cards that identified strengths. The group sat down with a dictionary and came up with 48 strengths. They enlisted the help of a designer to illustrate the cards.

The Initial print was for 500 sets and were packaged in zip lock bags. This print was quickly sold and a second run was printed, this time with cardboard packaging.

Strength Cards - cover Strength Cards - patient Strength Cards - supportive Strength Cards - sensibleOriginal Strength Cards


IR founder Russell Deal is awarded the Anita Morawetz Scholarship for innovation and research in family therapy. Funding was awarded for research into how Strength Cards was being used in family therapy, and what other tool might be of use if they were available. As a result of this research, it was decided to try and replicate the success of Strength Cards, but this time for primary-aged children. Strength Cards for Kids was he result.

Original Strength Cards for kids - cover Strength Cards - bounce back Strength Cards - calm person Strength Cards - caring about othersOriginal Strength Cards for Kids


Family sculpting was becoming a well-known technique within therapy circles to add richness and depth to traditional genograms or family trees. Sometimes the actual family members were used to build a living human sculpture and sometimes pictures of people or other images or figurines were used.

From this The Bear Family (later to become the iconic The Bears) were born. Although family sculpting drifted into the background, The Bears simplistic ability to help people talk about feelings has endured.

The Bears Cards - cover Strength Cards - happy Strength Cards - angry Strength Cards - confused Strength Cards - scared Original The Bears


Upon attending a book fair in Melbourne, IR founder Russell Deal connected with a group called Publish Australia who had just received funding to develop small, independent Australian-owned publishers. They were very interested in St Luke’s becoming part of the collective. This was a formative moment in the Innovative Resources story.

A business plan was put together and Innovative Resources was born.

Original resources Original IR team Original resources and team


Innovative Resources moves to its first stand alone office and shopfront at 137 McCrae Street, Bendigo. This move allows the business to not only expand it’s own suite of resources, but to sell a much wider range of text and picture books, games, puzzles and many other resources.


Innovative Resources moves from the McCrae st premises to their current site in Kangaroo Flat. This move was to enable the shop and warehouse to be located at the same premises and allow for further growth of the business.


St Luke’s merged with Anglicare Victoria (AV) and IR became a part of AV.

Visit Anglicare Victoria website →

Anglicare Victoria


Launch of the first fully digital resource - The Bears app will go down in history as Innovative Resource’s very first fully digital resource. The app was available on Apple and Android devices and featured our bestselling card set, The Bears.

Playing the Bears app The Bears on app The Bears app


eLearning launched - Innovative Resources launched into online learning with our most popular and widely regarded course, Strengths Approach to Practice. The decision to enter the eLearning space came about due to a greater demand in flexible learning options for our customers.

First IR eLearning First IR eLearning launched


First webinar facilitated - Innovative Resource’s foray into webinars began with a presentation to Diploma of Community Services students at Bendigo TAFE, facilitated by John Bonnice and Andrew Shirres. Through the Examples of Social Inclusion in Practice webinar, examples were shared of social inclusion in practice from the work done with young people and parents at Anglicare Victoria.

First IR webinar facilitated by Andrew Shirres First webinar facilitated by Andrew Shirres


First videoconference workshop - Innovative Resource’s first videoconference workshop was delivered due to the outbreak of COVID. The Tools for Building Social & Emotional Literacy in the Early Years workshop was designed to support Early Learning Centres.


Our card sets became digital resources.