Changing times, changing lives: Wesley Mission 2016 Annual Meeting
Last Sunday, Wesley Mission staff and supporters joined our CEO and Superintendent, the Rev Keith V Garner and Chair of the Wesley Mission Community Services Board, Mark Scott for our 2016 Annual General Meeting. The meeting was an opportunity to launch Wesley Mission’s 2016 Annual Report and, under the theme ‘Changing times, changing lives’, showcase our work over the past 12 months.
Our operating environment and work in 2015/16 reflect this theme of change: government reforms have changed the environment Wesley Mission and other community service providers are operating in by introducing consumer-driven models of service and funding; we have made internal changes to remain competitive; and we have embarked on a journey of transformation to be able to serve more of the most in need.
The Rev Keith V Garner opened the meeting with a quote from C.S Lewis that resonated with these changes: ‘It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for a bird to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.’
“For more than 200 years, Wesley Mission has known what it is to be hatched and born, time and time again,” Mr Garner said.
“We are now operating in a world that we can describe as a consumer directed world of care. I’m optimistic that we can not only adapt to this change, but can flourish and thrive,” he said.
Wesley Mission Chief Financial Officer, David Cannings, reported that in 2015/16 the organisation achieved some of the best results in our history, with our surplus growing from that of the previous year. Many speakers referred to our goal to grow more over the next five years and Chair of the Wesley Mission Community Services Board, Mark Scott, emphasised that the motivation behind this was not growth for the sake of growth.
“We’re not growing because a big organisation is greater or better. An organisation that is growing, in our situation, will be an organisation that is helping more people.
Transforming to meet a changing operating environment
Most of the government reforms that have impacted our operating environment have taken place within aged care and disability services. Executive Manager of Wesley Home Care & Disability, Andrew Wind, outlined some of these changes, which have been led by the introduction of Consumer Directed Care (CDC) on 1 July 2015 and the National Disability Insurance Scheme on 1 July 2016. Each of these reforms gives our clients more control and choice over the supports they receive and who provides these supports.
“The way we deliver services has changed to be compliant with new government policy.
Our service delivery models are now fully client centric ensuring that we remain relevant in the home care and disability sectors,” Andrew said.
“It means we ‘work with, not for’ our clients through their choice, participation and partnership.”
Over the past 12 months, Andrew reported, Wesley Mission converted more than 600 Wesley Home Care clients from bulk funding to individual financial packages and implemented a new emphasis on harnessing digital resources for both our clients and our staff. For example, 178 Wesley Home Care workers were provided with tablet devices to make it easier and more efficient for staff to manage rosters and client engagement. Aldo Travia, Executive Manager Wesley Information Services said this is the beginning of a longer term project to ensure Wesley Mission has the processes, procedures and systems in place to be ready to deliver competitive, quality services within this environment of reform.
No one story can cover the breadth of Wesley Mission’s work
When Heather McIntyre, Operations Manager Wesley Community Hub, was asked to speak at the Annual Meeting, her first instinct was to find one story that encapsulated the work we do and how we do it, whether in out of home care or disability, homeless or counselling services.
“But this task proved impossible,” she said, “there are simply too many stories that deserve to be told, too many passionate frontline staff that deserve to be recognised and so many lives that have been touched and changed because of Wesley Mission. No one story can tell all this.”
Instead, Heather shared a small sample of stories about people we have served over the past 12 months. From Daniel, a 16 year of boy in foster care who Wesley Dalmar has supported to realise his dream of studying in the U.S.A, to the launch of Wesley Young Healthy Minds, a brand new early intervention mental health service that has served over 89 young people and their families in the past 12 months.
Heather also outlined one of Wesley Mission’s strategies for growth over the next five years: the development of the Wesley Community Hub model.
Wesley Community Hubs will focus on working with the ‘most in need’ and providing a no wrong door approach. This means whoever walks into a Wesley Centre will be provided with the service they need—and if we can’t meet their needs, we will make sure they are referred to a service who can.
“As we work to implement this vision to roll out Wesley Mission hubs across the state, we are inspired, we are motivated, we are certainly feeling challenged and possibly just a little bit nervous but also incredibly thankful to be a part of this whole new chapter in the life and work of Wesley Mission,” Heather said.
Serving the most in need through Word and deed
Above all, our 2016 Annual Report and speakers at the Annual Meeting demonstrated the impact of change on people: those we serve, our staff, volunteers, people who attend our church, and our supporters. The power of change to renew, and our continuing commitment to walk alongside and inspire change in others are central to Wesley Mission’s work. And our commitment to Christlike servanthood is at the core of this.
On a daily basis, our Chaplains and congregations support the work of Wesley Mission. Wesley Congregational Life Chaplain, Joanna Garratt, explained just how they do this across an organisation as broad and diverse as ours.
“We want to be the hands and the feet of Jesus—whatever that looks like,” she said.
“For example, when a team was stressed in the lead up to an audit, our Chaplain helped out by being an extra pair of hands for filing. That day, for that team, that is what being the hands and feet of Jesus looked like.”
Time changes, but vulnerable people remain
The 2016 Annual Meeting and Annual Report demonstrated that empowering people to embark on their personal journeys of life change is, and always has been, a core facet of Wesley Mission’s ongoing presence in Australian communities. Over the past year, we continued to adapt and prepare our organisation for further change.
In his opening remarks, the Rev Keith Garner had stated that “In changing times, many people can be left behind. People in every setting need to know the call of God,” and Wesley Mission Community Services Chair, Mark Scott, reinforced this message in his closing comments: “Australia has been through 25 years of economic growth, but we find ourselves facing the challenge that growth has not been equally distributed. People in great need remain in great need,” he said.
“If we had more people, more money, greater opportunity, how much more could we do? That is what underpins the Board’s decision to grow. The business model we operate to is being flipped. So we have the challenge of great demand and the challenge of new ways of operating. And we’re meeting that challenge. We’re serving more people, but in a way that is economically responsible.”