Uniting Annual Report 2019-2020

Uniting for service evolution.


This year, we became acutely aware of the value in applying agility and flexibility to the evolution of our service offerings. While COVID-19 presented us with many service delivery challenges, it also created the space to innovate and adapt, while ensuring that our clients and communities stay safe and connected.”

Our clients in FY20:

Reimagining Aged Care in FY20

Older people deserve to live a dignified life and maintain a sense of normality, in an environment that promotes safety and comfort, while fostering connection and a greater sense of meaning and purpose.    
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Traditionally aged care has been institutional in its approach, failing to recognise the uniqueness of every individual person. Uniting’s person-centred model of care revolutionises traditional task-based ways of working, by instead focusing on what’s important to each person. In residential care, we call it the ‘Household Model’, recognising and honouring every individual, and supporting people to stay connected and engaged with their family, friends and community.

This means that our practices and daily tasks reflect the day-to-day rituals, routines and habits of our residents, and this way, a true sense of home is created. Household living creates choice and control over how you spend your day. You decide what time to get up or go to bed, when and what to eat, and you even have a say about who supports you in your household.


Uniting is continuing to transition all our residential aged care homes to this innovative and person-centred model. As at July 2020, over 54% of homes operate with the Household Model of care, enabling 2,247 residents to experience a greater sense of home, choice and control in their lives.

Our response to COVID-19 in FY20

From the perspective of Uniting’s Governance, Risk and Quality directorate, this year has been like no other in our history.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early in 2020, we had to put in place numerous controls and checks to ensure we were well prepared in the event of an outbreak. All of Uniting was impacted by new ways of working, new procedures and reporting requirements, and we continue to conduct daily check-ins. Our COVID-19 planning team is made up of subject matter experts from HR, WHS, Communications, and Procurement, and remains active in preparation for the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak. 

We’re proactively ensuring that all our services, including our residential aged care facilities, are fully supported with access to PPE, and planning for residents who become COVID-19 positive to be transferred to hospital. Appropriate funding to support staff and service delivery is a vital component of our preparations.


Legal advice was also sought for our COVID-19 process documents, to ensure compliance with guidelines provided by Safe Work Australia, the NSW Department of Health, and the Federal Department of Health. Our response action plans and documentation have all been positively received to date.

For the protection of clients and staff in FY20, Uniting procured:

Children, Youth and Families in FY20

Uniting has a long and proud history of investing in programs across NSW and the ACT that support and empower children, young people, families, First Australians, and socially and economically excluded communities, to improve engagement, opportunities, and outcomes.
Uniting Newpin, our New Parent and Infant Network, is about bringing parents and their children back together, stronger than ever. Newpin was developed in response to the needs of new parents experiencing issues such as isolation, mental illness, family violence, social disadvantage, low self-esteem and for those at risk of physically or emotionally harming their children. In FY20, Uniting entered a 3-year contract with the Department of Communities and Justice, ensuring ongoing funding for Newpin as a direct result of positive outcomes for families in NSW and the ACT.

Newpin represents Australia’s first-ever Social Benefit Bond (SBB), designed to pay returns based on the achievement of agreed social outcomes. Established in 2013, in partnership with the NSW Government, the Newpin SSB ultimately works to reduce the public sector’s need to pay for acute services over the long term.”

Technological agility

Initial COVID-19 restrictions compelled Uniting’s Children, Youth and Families directorate to develop alternative solutions for quality service delivery, including innovative virtual options, that have successfully continued. Our Counselling and Mediation, and Early Intervention programs have developed new operating models using online services, and we’ve partnered with the Parenting Resource Centre and Karitane to develop a telepractice framework for the broader sector.

Power in partnerships

Learning to manage and deliver through uncertain times has shown us the power of collaborating with external partners in FY20. Our Family Referral Service in South West Sydney began working together with the Services NSW Hypercare team, to ensure that individuals and families with complex circumstances exacerbated by COVID-19 are linked more closely with the community supports they need.


Our Brighter Futures team also strengthened support for vulnerable children and parents through the Voices and Choices Trial, in partnership with the Department of Communities and Justice, and two Mission Australia sites. This program builds self-determination of families, and enhances family capacity to make decisions and exercise choice control.


Foyer Central, Uniting’s second Social Benefit Bond, is due to ‘go live’ in early 2021. Implementation throughout FY20 has seen this program evolve from concept towards reality. Our consortia partnership with St George Community Housing and Social Ventures Australia, in conjunction with NSW Government, is changing the trajectory for young people with a care history. Foyer participants will have safe and stable accommodation while engaging in education and employment opportunities.

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The Uniting National Debt Helpline received additional one-off funds in February 2020, to support people impacted by the bushfire crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic. Financial counsellors were given the technological support to work from any location, ensuring that more people in NSW received accurate advice and timely assistance.

Independent Living expansion in FY20

While the number and extent of our capital projects continues to grow, FY20 has presented obstacles in construction pricing, development approval timeframes, and the property market’s ‘temporary downturn’ due to the economic pressure created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The overall uncertainty factors into the decision-making process for many potential residents, who’ve been unwilling or unable to sell their homes to facilitate moving into retirement villages. Despite the challenges, Uniting is committed to ensuring that our retirement living offerings evolve in line with the needs of the people and communities we serve, especially those most vulnerable.

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