CEO’s Report

I am delighted to report on the past twelve months of CAFS operations. This has been a time of significant change with a number of highlights.

The 2015–16 financial year was a wonderful year for Child and Family Services Ballarat. Part of this period coincided with CAFS commemorating 150 years of operations and culminated in the opening of the award-winning CAFS Legacy & Research Centre in May 2016.

At the CAFS staff forum in August 2015, I expressed the view that the organisation is travelling very well notwithstanding the fact that we are operating in a very competitive environment.

As it turned out, that was a prophetic comment given that the very next week CAFS won the Not-For-Profit category of the Ballarat Business Awards, which were presented by the Federation University Australia Business School and Commerce Ballarat (sponsored by CGU insurance). In addition, from amongst the 16 category winners, CAFS was judged to be the winner of the overall Business of the Year, which was a significant achievement.

After 150 years of operations, it is most gratifying for CAFS to be recognised for excellence in business. It sets us up very well for the next phase in our development as an agency.

Our major funding from the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) will continue until 30 June 2019. During that time we will continue to attract funding from a variety of sources. Our financial position is sound. The 2015–16 end of year result was a surplus of around $367,000 although we are budgeting for a small deficit in 2016–17.

The organisation recently completed an ISO audit and no areas were found to be non-compliant, which is a fantastic result.

On a daily basis during 2015–16, we continued to deliver a diverse range of services to children and families through the 40 programs that we provide.

As well as being a very reliable and valued social enterprise that benefits the community, Wozzles –which is celebrating 25 years of operations in 2016 –also continued to make a surplus for CAFS.

We are also in the process of negotiating an enterprise bargaining agreement with our staff, which I believe will continue to be in their best interests. I consider our workplace to be one of the best environments in which to work. In addition to meeting our legal obligations in relation to providing fair salaries as part of the enterprise bargaining process, CAFS also:

  • encourage staff participation in the Leadership Ballarat program
  • has an annual staff scholarship
  • has an innovation fund
  • paid three days of family leave for all staff during the period between Christmas and New Year, which was in addition to their annual leave entitlements.

The final version of the CAFS Strategic Plan 2016–19 was endorsed by our Board of Governance. Our Strategic Plan 2013–16 contained 26 strategic objectives. The overwhelming majority of those objectives were fully implemented in the three-year period, with the remaining few carried forward to the next plan.

The CAFS Legacy & Research Centre is a wonderful example of the practical implementation of a strategic plan. The plan said CAFS will respect, maintain and enhance its legacy. The centre is demonstrating that commitment to our past, present and future. I am not aware of any other community service organisation that incorporates a research centre which has an exhibition space that embraces state-of-the-art technology. As well as aligning with our strategic pillars, the Legacy & Research Centre is very much a strategic initiative.

Similarly, the Arthur Kenny Avenue of Honour demonstrates our commitment to our legacy. It won a heritage award for Conservation of a Heritage Place, Historic Collection or Tradition, and the Legacy Centre’s basement renovation was highly commended in the Adaptive Re-Use of a Heritage Place category in the Victorian Heritage Awards.

CAFS entered these awards to raise the profile of CAFS, and to lay the groundwork for what we hope to achieve in our next strategic plan.

The 150 year-commemoration, the success in the Heritage Awards and the winning of the Ballarat Not-for-Profit Business Excellence Award and Business of the Year Award have raised CAFS’ profile to a level where we can leverage off these successes to raise further funds to deliver much-needed extra services that will complement the services we currently provide using government funding as our major source of revenue.

This is the next phase in CAFS’ development as an agency. By entering (and winning) these awards, we have demonstrated to the broader community that CAFS is capable of providing its important services using a business model framework that is financially sound.

As mentioned before, the CAFS Board of Governance has agreed to a deficit budget in the 2016–17 financial year. The Board has accepted the proposition that a higher level of expenditure is required in order to generate more income. This support from the Board, which I greatly appreciate, has enabled CAFS to establish the business development unit, which will be managed by the newly created position of General Manager Business Development (GMBD).

This new position will also be responsible for fundraising, marketing and communications, community engagement, HEAL and Wozzles Wearhouse. In addition, the incumbent will also implement the recently completed five-year strategic plan for Wozzles and work with the CAFS Foundation that is to be established. The person appointed as the GMBD will commence on 24 October 2016.

I briefly want to refer to the new CAFS strategic plan 2016–2019.

Our last strategic plan contained six pillars or guidelines:

  • Sustainability
  • Legacy
  • Innovation
  • Social Justice
  • Early Intervention
  • Targeted Services

Those six pillars will continue into the new plan with a small number of changes that are significant. Under Social Justice, we have added the words “respect and acknowledge the First Australians as the traditional owners of the land on which we now live” and we have changed “early intervention” to “prevention and early intervention”. These are important changes in emphasis.

We have also added a new strategic pillar, which is Organisational Capability, and it is described as follows:

CAFS will ensure it has organisational capability within its people, culture, infrastructure and marketing.

There are two big-ticket items in the 2016 –2019 Strategic Plan on which we are currently working. They are:

  • to undertake a feasibility study for a multistorey building in the current car park (which is about the same area as Ludbrook House)
  • to conduct a feasibility study for the CAFS Back to the Future Therapeutic Farm.

We also have three program managers who are responsible for a diverse range of programs which includes the areas of:

Family & Early Childhood Services

  • Financial Counselling & Gamblers Help
  • Child First & Transition to school Program
  • Family Services – Family Violence Specialist

Family Violence, Family Relationship Services and Housing

  • Housing & Homelessness Services
  • Family Violence
  • Family Therapy

Placement & Support

  • Foster Care
  • Kinship Care
  • Residential Care

In conclusion, I want to acknowledge the input from the CAFS Board of Governance as Board members and as contributors to the various sub-committees.

The enthusiasm and commitment of our voluntary Board members is greatly appreciated.

The impressive Boardroom that we have created as part of the CAFS Legacy and Research Centre is in fact a tribute to the community members who established CAFS in 1865 and to all those who have continued to serve on committees of management and/or the Board of Governance for over 150 years.

I also wish to acknowledge and thank the staff and volunteers who work at CAFS. What our staff do and achieve on a daily basis is quite remarkable. Our staff and volunteers display admirable skill, enthusiasm, professionalism and resilience every day.

CAFS exists to be of service to the community and we can all be very proud of the services that we provide.

Thanks in particular to my General Managers for their ongoing and valuable support, to the Senior Management Team who are very capable individuals, and to my Executive Assistant for her ongoing enthusiastic support.