Uniting Annual Report 2020-2021

Message from our Chair.

Heather Watson
Chairperson

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True to our values of being compassionate, respectful, imaginative and bold, this financial year we have risen to the ongoing challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, as we continue to strive for an inclusive, connected and just world.”

The Uniting NSW.ACT Board acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s First Peoples. Throughout FY21, we continued our commitment to the goals set out in the Uniting Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan 2019-2021, with a focus on developing our organisational Aboriginal capability through learning, inclusion and relationships with Aboriginal staff, peoples and communities. The Board supported these initiatives and gained new insights in early 2021, when we met with some of our Aboriginal employees as part of their Ngumbadal gathering in Dubbo.

 

A key focus area of the Board over the last 12 months has been our contribution to the development of the Future Directions for the People of God on the Way strategy for the NSW.ACT Synod of the Uniting Church, which was approved at the April session of Synod 2021. To assist with this work, we shared information and experiences to provide context to Uniting’s current profile and operating environment, and participated in discernment and discussion groups. 

 

This Synod strategy affirms the future directions for our Church, with a commitment to its renewal and growth, and prioritising the needs of rural and regional communities; ministry with people in the first third of their lives; leadership and recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and our commitment to Climate Action

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In light of the new Synod strategy, we are taking the opportunity to refresh our Uniting strategy, last endorsed by the Board in early 2019.  It called us to prioritise where we have the most impact in creating an inclusive, connected and just world.” 

Since then, there have been significant changes in Uniting’s operating environment.  A range of important developments impacting service delivery include the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety; the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability; and the immediate impact and ongoing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Considering these significant external impacts, we expect to recommit to our response to the needs of older people as well as to children, young people and families, with new insights and prioritisation, while ensuring we continue to serve those most vulnerable to reverse the cycle of disadvantage in society, and balancing our mission, social impact, and sustainability.  The care and wellbeing of our staff, our clients, and their families remains paramount, together with continuing as a purpose-led organisation, drawn from the Uniting Church, to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice, while valuing diversity and always welcoming everyone exactly as they are. 

 

The Uniting NSW.ACT Board is committed to the highest standards of governance, in accordance with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Governance Standards, and has adopted Australian Institute of Company Directors Not-for-Profit Governance Standards in its approach.  The Board leverages established governance practices and organisational structures to support our effectiveness, responsible stewardship, integrity, accountability and robust risk management on behalf of the Uniting Church in NSW and the ACT.  Our approach is supported by the adoption this year of a new Constitution (confirming our external governance commitments) and refreshed Bylaws, reflecting our internal governance accountabilities.

 

The Board welcomed 3 new members during FY21, Kristal Kinsela, Leanne Morton and David Pigott, who each bring new perspectives to deepen the discussions and decisions of the Board. I acknowledge and thank my fellow Board members for their commitment, and express gratitude to Anne Carroll and Gillian Coutts, who each completed their Board terms over the last financial year.  

 

And on behalf of the Board, I record our gratitude and thanks to the Uniting Executive and their teams for their extraordinary service and commitment in the name of the Uniting Church, in these unprecedented times.  The outcomes of this contribution are demonstrated in compassionate and safe care for the individuals, families and communities we serve, and in our mutual support for each other.

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May we continue to respond to God’s call on us to act with courage, generosity and love in all that we do.”

Heather-Watson

Heather Watson

Chairperson
Uniting NSW.ACT