Looking back on the year, it’s been both demanding and at times, rewarding to operate throughout the changing landscape presented by the drought, the bushfires, the floods, and then COVID-19. I am constantly in awe of the ability and adaptability of our people and communities.”
Despite the challenges, I am grateful for so much, especially the fantastic team at Uniting. From frontline staff, through to my Executive Leadership Team and the Board, this has been an extraordinary time of rallying together for the common good. This year it’s been so important to continue serving people who are economically disadvantaged, people who are experiencing vulnerability due to their stage in life, whether they’re children, younger people, or seniors, and people who are socially excluded because of their culture, faith, age, disability, gender or sexual orientation.
Our focus on staff and client safety and wellbeing across all our services and corporate functions has been, and will continue to be, paramount. I am truly grateful that, as I write this report, we haven’t faced a serious outbreak of COVID-19 in any of our services or programs.
At the start of FY20, the Executive Leadership Team identified the strategic projects that were most critical for delivery, aligned to our 4 organisation-wide goals of culture and safety, social impact, service evolution, and responsible stewardship.
The culture and safety projects bring our mission to life though our values of being compassionate, respectful, imaginative and bold as we continue to create and nurture an inclusive, safe, reliable and person-centred culture for our people, and the people we serve. The social impact projects are actively changing the circumstances of disadvantaged and vulnerable people through a range of programs and partnerships, including our Future Horizons initiatives. The service evolution projects are working to improve our person-centred service models, and our capability and quality frameworks so that we can continue to meet the changing needs of people and communities. And our responsible stewardship projects are wisely using the resources entrusted to us by the Uniting Church, government, clients and partners, as we invest to maximise positive social outcomes.
This year, our social justice advocacy focused on implementing Synod resolutions for public issues including drug law reform, affordable housing, refugees, and climate change. We’ve also worked to develop an Ageing Advocacy Strategy that aligns aged care peak bodies to advocate for improved standards for all people receiving aged care. We’re hopeful that our work with the aged care peak bodies will allow us to have an open and transparent discussion with the Australian Government about the value of seniors in our society, and the adequacy of funding and systems in place to support them.
Like all community service providers, we are not immune to the changing market pressures that 2020 has delivered, and we have recorded a financial loss for the year. The pandemic has reinforced the urgent need for reform of our national aged care system, and we hope the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will deliver a strong directive to all Australians that we need to contribute more to transform, then sustain, the system that cares for us as we age.
As we continue to deliver on our strategic projects, we’re also adjusting to new, and better, ways of working. We’re reflecting on the resourceful approaches we can take forward from our response to COVID-19, while we innovate and implement new service offerings.”
I am grateful for the support of our colleagues in the Uniting Church, and on our Board, who provide ongoing leadership for, and governance over, the depth and breadth of work at Uniting. And I express sincere thanks to my Executive Leadership Team and our 10,500 employees and volunteers, who provide care and support for people through all ages, stages and challenges of life, especially for those experiencing vulnerability and exclusion. Thank you for all that you do, every day.
Executive Director/Chief Executive