Uniting Annual Report 2019-2020

Message from the Chair.

Heather Watson
Chairperson

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This financial year has seen many challenges, not just for Uniting and the people and communities we serve, but for the whole of Australia and the rest of the world, as we continue to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Those challenges continue to highlight existing inequalities, where impacts are disproportionately being borne by those most vulnerable. This drives an even greater prioritisation of actions if we are to achieve an inclusive, connected and just world.”

The Uniting NSW.ACT Board acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s First Peoples. We demonstrate our response to this acknowledgment through the commitments formalised in our Uniting Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2021. In FY20, we’ve continued our commitment to listen and work respectfully together, to find culturally appropriate and effective ways to empower Aboriginal individuals, families and communities, in support of aspirations of self-determination and self-governance.

 

June 30, 2020 marked the progress of our first year of Uniting’s ambitious 10-year Vision to balance our mission, social impact, and sustainability.  We set good foundations for execution across 4 organisational goals of culture, social impact, service evolution, and responsible stewardship.  We have invested in Uniting’s Future Horizon portfolio of 7 social innovation initiatives in locations and communities where we can maximise the social impact of the Uniting Church, and have the greatest opportunity to reverse the cycle of disadvantage.

 

Inevitably, we continue to reflect on the impact that COVID-19 will have in the medium and long term, and therefore on our initial 10-year aspirations. Those impacts remain uncertain and require ongoing review and reflection.

 

During the year, significant resources were diverted to the external crisis events of the NSW bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic. The care and wellbeing of our staff, our clients, and their families remained paramount throughout these events. We pivoted resources to respond to emerging needs, and we relied upon our Theological Mission Principles and refreshed our Ethical Principles to sharpen our decision making and leadership in the emerging crisis context.  We increased our advocacy, developing a campaign and promoting the necessity of hospitalisation for aged care residents who are COVID-19 positive, and led government engagement and community mobilisation to address significant financial challenges for early learning services.

 

As we look to the future, we are facing unprecedented levels of uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, together with a very weak economy and property market. We have a finite pool of resources with limited bandwidth, and we are expecting recommendations from both the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability, which will impact our capacity to continue to deliver person-centred responses in a sustainable way.

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Our vision of creating an inclusive, connected and just world, and to continue as part of the Uniting Church, to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice, remains an even stronger priority.”

We are hopeful about the opportunities ahead, across the broad range of services we offer, to respond to changing client needs and wants.  We are focused on providing high quality care in home-like settings which meet the complex needs of older people; delivering a transformed model of in-home and community care to maximise client choice and control; creating and sustaining supportive, vibrant and diverse senior communities; prioritising services that support a child’s first 2,000 days;  delivering services for children and young people in education, prevention, early intervention and restoration; and supporting people with a disability to build their capacity and independence, and to engage with the National Disability Insurance Scheme. 

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And we will do all this while valuing diversity and always welcoming everyone exactly as they are, differentiating Uniting from other providers.” 

The Uniting NSW.ACT Board is committed to the highest standards of governance, in accordance with Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Governance Standards and has modelled the Australian Institute of Company Directors Not-for-profit Governance Standards in its approach.  The Board leverages established governance practices and organisational structures and draws on the governance framework of the wider Synod to support our effectiveness, responsible stewardship, integrity, accountability and robust risk management on behalf of the Uniting Church in NSW and the ACT.

 

The Board welcomed 2 new members during FY20, Elenie Poulos and Sara Watts, who each bring new perspectives and experiences to deepen the discussions and decisions of the Board. I acknowledge and thank my fellow Board members for their commitment, and express gratitude to Bronwyn Pike and Robyn Brown, who each concluded their Board terms over the last financial year.  In Bronwyn’s case, we continue our relationship and extend congratulations on her appointment as CEO, Uniting Vic.Tas. And on behalf of the Board, I express deep gratitude to the Uniting Executive and their teams for their continued passion, and recognition of their extraordinary additional efforts through recent and continuing crises.

Heather-Watson

Heather Watson

Chairperson
Uniting NSW.ACT