Uniting Annual Report 2019-2020

Our Uniting culture.


Workplace culture, in its simplest definition, is ‘the way we do things around here’. It captures behaviours, mindsets and practices that become ingrained into our organisational DNA.”

We know that our organisational culture can have a huge impact on employee experience, which ultimately affects the experience of the people we serve. For this reason, we continue to focus on bringing our mission to life through an inclusive, safe, reliable, and person-centred culture for our people, and the people we serve.


With the many challenges of FY20, we recognise that creating a culture of high reliability depends on employee and client confidence in the ability to safely provide feedback for timely acknowledgement and action.

Celebrating the diversity of our people in FY20

Your Voice matters in FY20

‘Your Voice’ is our regular Uniting employee and volunteer feedback survey, taking an organisation-wide pulse to ensure our people continue to inspire and implement changes that make a real difference for our clients, and make Uniting an even better place to work.

Your Voice gives our people the opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas on what’s working well at Uniting, and what we need to improve.   In the 2019 survey, we saw an overall employee engagement score of 76% and significant increases in key questions telling us that our people felt more motivated, more aligned with our Uniting values, and had a greater sense of team spirit than in 2017, the first year of surveying.


Your Voice tells us that the best way to improve our culture is to better manage workload and wellbeing, through building people manager capability and improving systems and processes that make it easier for people to do their jobs effectively. And we’re constantly working on it.


We also launched our ‘Speak Up’ service in FY20, an independent hotline available for everyone to confidentially voice their feedback and concerns. It has proven a valuable channel for prompt resolution of 4 issues this year.

Diversity and inclusion in FY20

Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) continues to be at the heart of our culture and identity at Uniting.  As our people, our clients and our communities continue to grow in diversity, we know that creating a sense of belonging and safety for everyone is critical to achieving our vision for an inclusive, connected and just society, where everyone can thrive.

We recognise that everyone brings overlapping social, cultural, spiritual and professional identities to their life at Uniting. This year, our newly formed D&I team prioritised collaboration, learning and innovation in response to the challenges and opportunities of FY20.


We were thrilled to participate in the Aboriginal Rugby League’s Koori Knockout, Mardi Gras and Fair Days once again and, with the onset of COVID-19, we shifted our many celebrations to virtual events. Unexpectedly, this led to a greater number and diversity of people being able to participate and, importantly, led to dialogue about how we can create more inclusive places and experiences for all people. A virtual Harmony Iftar Dinner was one of the year’s highlights, in partnership with Infinity Intercultural Foundation and the Uniting Church.


We know that curiosity and identity awareness are the foundations for inclusive leadership and so, guided by our Reconciliation Action Plan, we refreshed our approach and commitment to Aboriginal cultural awareness training. FY20 saw more than 90% of senior leaders actively engaging in this training.


As we seek to put learning into practice through more culturally mindful services, we also designed and piloted a Confident Communicator program across our Residential Aged Care services. The program builds cross-cultural relations and person-centred practice.  It was complemented by our partnership with ACON in the Community Visitor Scheme, aiming to reduce social isolation of older LGBTI people, an issue exacerbated by COVID-19.


In FY20, we were delighted to receive the following awards from the Australian Workplace Equality Index (AWEI):

  • 2020 AWEI Bronze Employer
  • 2020 10-year AWEI achievement Award, as the highest ranking not-for-profit or charity over the history of the ceremonies.


Uniting also received a Health and Wellbeing Equality Index (HWEI) Gold Service Provider Award from Pride in Diversity in 2020.


We know we have much more work ahead of us, and so in FY20 we undertook a research project to better understand Uniting’s D&I challenges and opportunities. It provides the foundation for an inaugural and enterprise-wide D&I Strategy, giving us a roadmap for meeting our commitment to valuing diversity and always welcoming you, exactly as you are, at Uniting.

Safety and wellbeing in FY20

Uniting’s frontline services overcame many challenges during the year. We worked to keep our clients and employees safe in the face of intense bushfires, which forced the evacuation of some of our services, floods and storms, and then COVID-19. 

In FY20, we had a total of 158 Lost Time Injuries (LTIs) and our LTI* Frequency Rate (LTIFR**) was 14.8.

Embedding of manual handling techniques, peer-on-peer observation and a proactive physiotherapy program are critical to our FY21 safety strategy. We are also improving the use of the preferred doctor network, ensuring our people receive the best and most appropriate care quickly. This has a direct impact on our employee wellbeing and return to work (RTW) outcomes.

We are continuing to focus on providing easily accessible and high-quality medical services for our frontline teams, and extending these services to Telemedicine and after-hours triage support.

Wellbeing continues to be a priority, with COVID-19 changing the way we work and support our people. We have created resources and webinars for employees and leaders, including a series of Toolbox Talks to support managers in having wellbeing conversations with their people, as well as COVID-19 safe work practices.

Recent conversations across the organisation have highlighted the need to broaden our preventative approach to safety performance.  We will work to reinforce the beliefs that: our people are the solution; safety is best measured by the presence of positive outcomes; and, safety is an ethical responsibility as opposed to a bureaucratic activity.

To initiate the shift in thinking, we have developed the following set of principles:

  1. We can prevent injuries by developing a collective mindfulness around safety, where we raise opportunities for improvement and speak up when we have concerns.
  2. The better we understand how people do their jobs, the better we can support them to be injury-free.
  3. If we celebrate and share our successes, we can all learn and help each other to improve.
  4. Ensuring the wellbeing of our people requires equal focus on their mental health as well as their physical safety.
  5. When things do happen, we understand that getting people back to work as quickly as possible provides the best wellbeing outcomes.

*LTI: An injury that resulted in loss of one complete shift from work, excluding the shift when the injury occurred, during the reporting period.


**LTIFR: The sum of the Lost Time Injuries for the previous 12-month rolling period times 1,000,000 divided by the total hours worked in the previous 12-month rolling period.

Culture and safety stories

Cultivating compassionate innovation

Keeping Safety Real Podcast