Strong year-on-year growth across each of our business platforms
Across the three business platforms, the Group made notable progress on its strategic objectives and saw double digit year-on-year growth. Pleasingly for the largest of our newer businesses, Home & Disability Services (HDS), ongoing investment in technology and business insights and an enhanced operating model resulted in a material improvement in its financial position, finishing the period on track for sustainable customer growth.
For our Retail platform, performance was driven by a lower net claims experience and a continued focus on proactive strategies to lower commissions and operating expenses. Within the Banking business, we saw significant growth in the loan book as new customers were attracted to the Australian Unity Bank proposition, with solid interest margins driven by higher asset yields and an improved cost of funding.
For our Wealth & Capital Markets (W&CM) platform, we continued to make significant progress with the Herston Quarter project in Queensland. This platform also benefitted from a financial settlement within its Lifeplan business following the unanimous decision by the High Court against Ancient Order of Foresters in Victoria Friendly Society.
The Independent & Assisted Living (IAL) platform made a material improvement on the prior year's result, predominantly attributable to the HDS business—which delivered on its priority growth and efficiency initiatives, achieving a $39.8 million adjusted EBITDA improvement in comparison to the prior year. There was much movement across our asset base, with the Walmsley Aged Care facility closed for redevelopment, while development was completed at the
Sienna Grange and Racecourse Grange Aged Care facilities and The Grace Albert Park Lake retirement village.
Further information is provided in the operating and financial review and the financial statements.
The overall profit after income tax for the year was $53.0 million, which reflected year-on-year growth of $1.5 million, or 2.8 percent. Given the sale of the GUCH business in the prior year, which was largely offset by accelerated depreciation and amortisation charges, it is important to understand the movement in profit for continuing operations.
The profit after tax from continuing operations was $53.0 million, which was a $68.3 million improvement on the prior corresponding period.
Total revenue and other income from continuing operations increased to $1.61 billion (2018: $1.49 billion). The Explanatory Notes (note 25) highlight that $1.37 billion of this revenue was attributable to members and $0.24 billion was attributable to benefit fund policyholders—with revenue attributable to members up $55.5 million, or 4.2 percent from the prior year. This result was mainly driven by higher services revenue within the IAL platform and improved investment earnings (see note 2).
Expenses from continuing operations of $1.49 billion were only $9.5 million (0.6 percent) higher than the prior year. Gross claims paid by our retail health insurance business of $612.3 million were in line with the prior corresponding period.
As detailed in note 3, depreciation and amortisation costs of $29.8 million were $31.2 million, or 51.1 percent lower than the prior year. This was due to a number of assets that were subject to accelerated amortisation and depreciation in the prior year.
Finance costs of $17.7 million were also less than the prior year by $2.8 million (13.6 percent) due to lower interest rates and a reduction in corporate debt.