Uniting Annual Report 2019-2020

Uniting for social impact.

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Throughout FY20, we’ve worked to change the circumstances of people experiencing disadvantage and vulnerability, through a range of targeted programs and partnerships. Our teams continue to nurture and support people through all ages and stages of life, across metropolitan and regional NSW and the ACT.”

We’re entrusted with the care of older Australians in their homes and ours, and children in our early learning centres. We support families, young people, and people living with disability to access the resources needed for building their capacities and communities. We operate within highly regulated sectors and meet strict accreditation conditions to ensure that our quality of care meets the standards expected by our residents and clients, and their families.

Focused on Future Horizons in FY20

Future Horizons is Uniting’s strategy co-created and delivered with the Uniting Church. It identifies how we can have the greatest social impact by reversing cycles of disadvantage in the areas of greatest need. The impact principles established through Future Horizons are a fundamental part of Uniting’s 10-year Vision towards a more inclusive, connected and just world.

7 impact principles

One of the key ways in which Future Horizons is brought to life, is through our investment in 7 social innovation initiatives. This includes co-funding, trialling, and scaling new programs that meet complex and unsolved social needs.

7 Future Horizons social innovation initiatives

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In FY20, Uniting worked with community partners and evaluators to further develop 2 of these social innovations – Firefly and Extended Care – by taking them into pilot testing phases. Firefly is a place-based community development initiative that encourages local people to devise local solutions and programs to address their community challenges. Extended Care seeks better outcomes for young people leaving our foster care system. Our goal is to affect systems change by designing, proving, and embedding new solutions.

 

We’re encouraged by the early results of outcomes measurement and evaluation for both these initiatives. As we test these new ways of working, we’re actively looking to partner with churches, communities, and government, to see this important work sustained and scaled throughout NSW, the ACT and beyond.

How Extended Care (EXCP) supports young people

The Extended Care Program (EXCP) has already yielded “remarkable positive impacts” in the initial year of the 5-year pilot, based on an independent evaluation that drew on the voices of 12 participants aged 15 to 19, and additional data.

They’re supported with:

housing

education

employment

health & wellbeing

social connection

Positive outcomes at a glance:

were studying or working

had a secure home

were employed, including part-time with school or study

young people were supported to avoid placement breakdowns

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Seeing my goals laid out on paper makes me feel like I’m actually getting somewhere.”

EXCP participant

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One of our EXCP participants left school after Year 10, and she’s now on the path to fulfilling her aspiration to work in animal care. Together with support and encouragement from her YDC and Aboriginal Student Support Officer, she’s confidently completing her TAFE course.”

EXCP Youth Development Coach

Advocating for change in FY20

Uniting continues to advocate for the common good by campaigning to shift public attitudes and government policy, and has ramped up integration between these campaigns and our services.

Our priority campaigns are Climate Change and Fair Treatment for drug law reform, reflecting Synod resolutions. We’ve also been leading the way with active collaboration between aged care providers to achieve much-needed sector reform, including 4 workshops and 2 submissions to the Royal Commission.

 

Our second pre-budget submission to the NSW Government was prepared, including recommendations regarding investment in drug treatment, establishing a seniors housing information and referral service, and extending support for young people leaving out-of-home care. We held 26 meetings with government representatives on the back of this submission and our other advocacy initiatives. Multiple online activist training sessions were also held for congregations and community members.

You can read the Uniting pre-budget NSW submission 2020/2021 here.

Our 4 key advocacy issues in FY20:

1. Climate change

As part of the Uniting Church’s Synod Climate Strategy, we’ve put the spotlight on our own emissions and how to continue to drive these down. We’ve also focused on finding solutions with congregations, to reduce their individual and collective emissions, and to support each other in addressing climate anxiety. Several congregations were instrumental in rallying Voices for Power, bringing communities together to campaign for affordable and renewable energy solutions for all Australians, and successful in convincing their local councils to sign up to the Cities Power Partnership, Australia’s largest network of cities and towns tackling climate change. Our focus on supporting youth action on climate change also continued, with more than 500 employees and congregation members participating in the School Strike 4 Climate rallies. 

2. Childcare

Uniting worked to win ongoing support from Canterbury-Bankstown Council for free childcare places for the children of local asylum seekers. And when our Early Learning services faced funding uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we mobilised families and staff to send over 2,500 emails to their MPs. 

3. Drug law reform

This year, Uniting successfully campaigned to secure Australia’s first appointment to the Global Commission on Drug Policy, Geoff Gallop, and held 30 community screenings of Half a Million Steps, including at NSW Parliament. We also conducted 2 Fair Treatment partner workshops, and 3 Canberra Drug Policy Series events. From these, our conversation with their Honours Helen Clark and Geoff Gallop, Achieving Drug Policy Reform – Lessons of COVID-19, has been viewed more than 36,000 times.

Half a Million Steps is a poignant film that documents the ‘Long Walk to Treatment’. The 500,000 steps between Dubbo and Sydney were walked by community and church members to raise awareness of the need for greater access to drug treatment and funding – especially for women with children, and for people living in remote areas. You can watch it online here.

4. Aged care reform

Reform of the aged care sector has been front and centre this year, with the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, and COVID-19. Uniting made 2 submissions to the Royal Commission for a reconfiguring of the aged care model, so that older Australians receive the right mix of care and support, at the right time, in the setting they choose.

5 reform destinations identified:

  • Genuine choices that meet the needs of all seniors
  • Greater home-based care
  • Innovation that promotes improved health and wellbeing
  • Skilled and fairly-paid workforce
  • Sustainable services for all seniors through a mix of government and consumer contributions.
  • We also played a leadership role, convening 4 provider workshops to discuss aged care reform and the need for a comprehensive campaign to shift public and decision-maker sentiment. We advocated for hospital transfer of COVID-19 positive residents through opinion pieces in the media, and engagement with Members of Parliament in areas where our residential aged care services are located. Supporters were also mobilised in our ‘Thank you’ campaign for aged care workers on the front line of COVID-19, including a personal email of thanks from our head office staff.

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