UnitingCare Pancake Day

It’s fun, easy and it’s making a big difference! Oh, and it involves PANCAKES!

Every year people come together for UnitingCare Pancake Day to flip for a good cause. The reality is that 1 in 7 Australians are living in poverty with 1 in 6 children affected, that’s 2.9 million Australians too many. By hosting your very own Pancake Day event, you will be helping Australians living in crisis including those suffering homelessness, domestic violence, addictions and financial hardship.

Join us this year at Federation Square on 28 February. Pancakes will be on from 8am – 2pm. Money raised on the day will support the UnitingCare network, assisting those experiencing marginalisation and disadvantage. 

When: Tuesday 28 February 

Where: Federation Square, Melbourne

Time: 8:00am - 2:00pm

Pancake Day


28 Feb 2017

UnitingCare Australia Redoubles Efforts to Address Housing and Homelessness

A national forum of 40 frontline UnitingCare service providers held in Sydney on 27 October 2016, has committed to developing a national action plan to work with government to address housing and homelessness in Australia.

“Every day our frontline community services across the country despair at the number of people living in Australia without the fundamental human need of housing,” UnitingCare Australia Acting National Director, Martin J Cowling said.

“Our services have told us that the issue is getting worse, not better. In fact, we believe it now represents a national crisis.

“As such, we believe the issue requires strong national leadership and a national response strategy.

“Our service providers yesterday committed to developing a UnitingCare Australia response strategy as we seek to work constructively and collaboratively with government to help shape the way forward.

“We recognise that governments are already contributing large amounts of funding and resources, but believe it’s time to seriously examine new directions.”

Mr Cowling said the forum also provided an opportunity for services to share the many innovative solutions they are implementing to address the pressing needs of the homeless in their communities.

“Stable and safe housing underpins functional families and communities.

“Australia has the resources to ensure that everyone experiences belonging in a safe and supportive community, with appropriate housing.

“Homelessness impacts on the health and wellbeing of older people, on the capacity of children, youth, Indigenous people and those from a culturally diverse background, to achieve their potential to contribute to society and the economy, and on the ability of Australians with disability or a mental health issue to lead a dignified life.

“To successfully address the issue it will be vital for different levels of government, and private and not-for-profit organisations like ourselves, to work together,” Martin Cowling said.

UnitingCare Australia operates at 1,600 sites across the country.

For more information, visit unitingcare.org.au

Uniting established as new community service agency in Victoria and Tasmania

Uniting is the new community services organisation to be formed from 21 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria.

Uniting (Victoria and Tasmania) Limited was established and governance for all 22 agencies was unified under a single Board on 3 October 2016.

This is an exciting first step in moving from a network of separate agencies to a single organisation.

An experienced, skills based team will lead the design and build of the emerging organisation. The Uniting Board will be chaired by former Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike. Paul Linossier, previously the CEO of Wesley Mission Victoria, is the inaugural Chief Executive Officer. Mr Linossier has more than three decades experience in leading organisational change and systems reform while maintaining a strong commitment to marginalised and vulnerable people.

The founding agencies to Uniting have a rich history of care, support and community partnerships. Mr Linossier said. “Together we can do more. We will have a stronger advocacy voice and we will have access to broader resources and skills to meet clients’ needs. This change provides the best opportunity for us to continue our important work in the community for many years to come.”

The move to the single organisation has just started. Each agency will continue the same quality services, with the same dedicated staff and commitment to care while work to shape the new organisation progresses. The merger is expected to be complete by mid-2017.

Uniting will be one of the largest community service providers operating in Victoria and Tasmania.

Uniting is all about working together to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice.” Mr Linossier said. “We are Uniting to have greater impact.

Released: Connections News - Spring Edition

The Connections News, Spring Edition is now available.

It is core to our philosophy that we are absolutely committed to preventing violence against women, and consequently, children.  

As a community service organisation with a strong reputation in the community, we can use our status and our influence to enter into public conversations about preventing violence against women and support a workplace where we have conversations about gender equality.

It is with this in mind, we are thrilled to be one of four organisations, and the only community organisation piloting an exciting new project with Our Watch. The Workplace Equality and Respect Project was launched on Wednesday 24 August 2016 by Fiona Richardson, Minister for the Prevention of Family Violence and Minister for Women.  

I encourage you to read more about this important initiative in our newsletter.  

I also want to extend a very warm invitation to you to attend the 30th Annual WJ Craig Lecture and the Presentation of the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards. This year we are delighted to have Seri Renkin, CEO of the ten20 Foundation delivering what we think will be a powerful lecture.  

If you haven't already, may I also encourage you to read about the work of the talented young people and schools who have been nominated for the 2016 Anti-Poverty Awards.  

Each year, I am moved by the motivation and commitment of the young people who apply. Through their actions, whether they are working in communities in Australia or overseas, they have taken up the challenge of making a difference and are working toward the common good.

Once again, I thank you for your support and hope you continue to be inspired by our work in your local community.

If you would like to receive the newsletter each season, please register here.

Click here to read Connections News – Spring Edition.

Thank you for your continued support of our work.

With best wishes,
Angela Forbes
Chief Executive Officer

New Uniting Church agency announces inaugural CEO

Experienced public sector and community services professional Paul Linossier has been appointed as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer of the new Uniting Church community services organisation.

The new organisation will be formed from the merger of 20 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria (WMV). It will be one of the largest community service providers operating in Victoria and Tasmania.

The network of UnitingCare agencies and WMV operate across metropolitan, regional and remote parts of Victoria and Tasmania offering a broad range of services and advocacy to support thousands of vulnerable people.

With a combined annual budget of about $237 million, over 3,500 staff and 4000 volunteers, the services of the new organisation will include emergency relief, financial counselling, housing and homelessness services, employment services, early childhood services, child, youth and family services, disability services, mental health services, non-residential aged care and alcohol and other drugs services and Lifeline.

Mr Linossier, currently the CEO of WMV, has more than three decades experience in leading organisational change and systems reform while maintaining a strong commitment to marginalised and vulnerable people.

Inaugural Board Chair Bronwyn Pike said she was delighted that Mr Linossier had agreed to lead the new organisation given his broad experience.

“Paul is highly regarded in the public and community services sectors with a significant background in Uniting Church and other community service agencies, as well as experience in state government,” she said.

“He will bring to the organisation important skills in the areas of strategic planning and organisational review, which will be important as we seek to establish the new organisation.”

Mr Linossier said he was both humbled and excited by the challenge of leading the new agency.

“UnitingCare agencies have a long history of supporting vulnerable Victorians and Tasmanians,” he said.

“As one unified agency and ministry of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania this vital support will now be expanded and strengthened. I am proud to be working together with our agency leaders, dedicated staff, volunteers and community partners to continue to serve and advocate alongside those most in need.”

Mr Linossier begins in the position on Monday 22nd August, 2016.

Australian Government Must Take Lead on Addressing Homelessness and Housing Affordability

During Homelessness Week 2016, UnitingCare Australia calls on the Turnbull Government to show leadership on homelessness and housing affordability for low-income households.

UnitingCare services across Australia are reporting increasing demand for homelessness services and a critical shortage of safe, affordable accommodation to house these people,” UnitingCare Australia Chair Peter Bicknell said.

“We want the Australian Government to take leadership on this critical national issue, to work with its state and territory colleagues, and the community sector, to develop a national response strategy.

“A national strategy needs to look at early intervention and responses to the full range of issues, from family breakdown and domestic violence, to mental health, drugs and alcohol, and loss of work, which can lead to any of us finding ourselves without a home.

“Our community needs leadership from government to ensure services addressing these issues are effective and appropriately funded.
Mr Bicknell said long term planning and capital investment are also needed to ensure there is adequate affordable housing for low income families and individuals.

“Experts agree that social housing not only acts as an effective buffer for lower income groups, but timely investment in this sector can also play a role in maintaining a stable construction industry.

“Well planned and targeted policy settings for services, and where necessary, investment that delivers affordable housing, are essential elements of an economic strategy for jobs, growth and healthy communities.

“Now is the time for the Australian Government to lead in the formation of these policy directions,” Mr Bicknell said.

Figures from the 2011 census indicated 105,000 Australians or around 1 in 200 people were homeless.

“We are not optimistic that the figures will have fallen in this last census period, but we are confident that if the Australian Government commits to action now, we can see a real reduction in the number of Australians without safe and affordable accommodation come 2021,” Peter Bicknell said.

UnitingCare Australia supports Homelessness Week 1 - 7 August 2016 with its theme #Homelessnesscounts.

The UnitingCare network is one of Australia’s largest providers of social services, operating across rural, remote and urban areas, providing assistance to one in eight Australians each year, and employing 40,000 staff, supported by 30,000 volunteers across 1,600 sites.

Prioritise investment in vulnerable people

UnitingCare Australia calls on re-elected government to prioritise investment in vulnerable people.

UnitingCare Australia has congratulated the Turnbull Government on its election victory and calls on the Prime Minister to lead renewed efforts to address key issues affecting the lives of vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians.

“We believe that the close election result has demonstrated that a focus on jobs, growth and business, while vital, is too one-dimensional for our community,” UnitingCare Australia National Committee Chair, Peter Bicknell said.

“This term is an opportunity for the Government to increase investment in people and the services needed to grow productivity and build a decent future for all.

“We particularly encourage the Government to commit to new directions in aged care funding, housing affordability and homelessness, unemployment, and early childhood education,” Mr Bicknell said.

Martin J Cowling, Acting National Director said the Government’s proposed $1.2billion cuts to aged care funding announced in the May Budget are of grave concern to UnitingCare Australia.

“We call on the Prime Minister and Treasurer to halt the cuts and to work collaboratively with the aged care sector to identify sustainable options for meeting the health care needs of older people in care,” he said.

Peter Bicknell said enabling every person, regardless of age, ability, or employment status to make a full contribution to society is the key to national prosperity.

“Jobs, growth, tax reform, and investment in essential services are all needed to ensure that everyone can participate in and contribute to their community.

“UnitingCare Australia is committed to working constructively with the Government, Opposition, Independents and minor parties over this next term of parliament,” Mr Bicknell said today.

For more information, visit unitingcare.org.au

A new vision for UnitingCare

UnitingCare will create one of the largest community service organisations operating in Victoria and Tasmania under a new single governance structure aimed at strengthening its ability to support people in need throughout the two states.

It follows a decision by the Uniting Church’s Synod Standing Committee (SSC) last year to establish a single skills-based Agency Board which will govern 18 UnitingCare agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria (WMV). The Board will be supported by regional advisory committees, local support groups and clinical governance committees. Currently, the agencies and Wesley Mission Victoria are all governed by individual boards.

Alternative models of support are being considered for smaller agencies. A model of support for congregations and presbyteries currently providing local or regional community services will be developed.

At the weekend the SSC approved the appointment of former Victorian State Health Minister Bronwyn Pike to chair the single Agency Board. It also appointed a further four initial directors to the new Board.

“I am deeply honoured that the Uniting Church has asked me to chair this new organisation as I share their commitment to making Victoria and Tasmania fairer, compassionate and inclusive,’’ Ms Pike said.

UnitingCare Project Control Group (PCG) Chair Bob Hodges said the new governance structure will build on UnitingCare’s reputation as leaders of the provision of high quality community services across both states.

“It will make the work of client facing staff more effective by creating a structure that helps them to share ideas and learn from the innovative work currently being undertaken throughout the organisation.” Mr Hodges said.

UnitingCare agencies and WMV operate in metropolitan, regional and remote parts of Victoria and Tasmania offering a broad range of services and advocacy to support thousands of vulnerable people.

With a combined annual budget of approximately $237 million, 3,500 staff and 4,000 volunteers, UnitingCare and WMV‘s services include emergency relief, financial counselling, housing and homelessness services, employment services, early childhood services, child, youth and family services, disability services, mental health services, non-residential aged care, alcohol and other drugs services and Lifeline.

Ms Pike said UnitingCare agencies have supported vulnerable Victorians and Tasmanians for decades and have been a voice for social justice in our community.

As one unified agency of the Uniting Church Synod of Victoria and Tasmania this vital work will now be expanded and strengthened as we address the new challenges in caring for people in great need,’’ she said.

The new single Agency Board will assume governance when all funders have formally agreed to service contracts continuing under the proposed new structure. This is expected to occur before the end of the year.

The new Board will have up to 11 members including the Chief Executive Officer as an executive director.

Following handover of governance, it will be business as usual in the first instance for all agencies, with existing CEOs reporting into the new executive structure.

Existing boards will be encouraged to remain in place to assist with the transition to the new governance structure.

“We would like to continue to work alongside our current boards who will play an invaluable role in providing input and advice to the new Agency Board,” Mr Hodges said.

“On the day of handover, there will be no change to the work that each agency is delivering in local communities. The same people will provide the same services to the same clients at the same locations are they are today.’’

Mr Hodges said major funders had been notified of the proposed changes.

“Our largest funder is the Victorian DHHS and we are working closely in partnership with them to provide the information they require.’’

UnitingCare embodies the Church’s ethos of compassion and care for the vulnerable within our communities.

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