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 2016–17 financial year was another year of great success for CAFS and the people we care for. We continued our service delivery, with over 40 programs reaching in excess of 6,500 children, families and individuals. Additionally, our turnover continued to grow reaching over $18 million, which is testament to the reputation for excellence that the entire CAFS team strives to always provide.

CAFS’ complement of 199 staff, together with the ongoing support of over 280 volunteers, enabled us to reach out to many more people in need, whether that was through our traditional program areas or by other ways such as supporting the broader community via our Wozzles Wearhouse opportunity shops.

With 152 years of history propelling us, CAFS is incredibly fortunate to continue to enjoy great support from the community, which consists of individuals, businesses, schools, local government and social groups, as well as kind-hearted volunteers who provide skills, passion, time and devotion to making a real difference. We are continually grateful for the many ways in which the community supports us, and without it, wouldn’t be able to help as many people as we currently do. In the past 12 months, we have added more names to our major supporter honour boards which are in the CAFS Legacy & Research Centre.

Our forecast positive budget result delivered a surplus of $557,489 that was largely the result of philanthropic support, which resulted in both our HEAL Program and Stage 2 of our Legacy & Research Centre receiving much-needed funding for which we are very grateful.
In June 2016, the CAFS Strategic Plan 2013–2016 was completed. The implementation of this plan incorporated the strategic pillars of sustainability, legacy, innovation, targeted services, early intervention and social justice. This focus drove great changes across CAFS, some of which included:

  • gaining ISO accreditation. This process of accreditation under the ISO banner required CAFS to robustly examine all aspects of the organisation to ensure it is meeting a minimum standard in terms of its methods for managing its operations. To achieve accreditation reinforces CAFS’ strong commitment to governance and management
  • White Ribbon accreditation. Given our work involves dealing with family violence, we felt it was important to attain this accreditation, which recognises our ongoing commitment to standing up for the prevention of violence against women
  • major commitments to CAFS’ legacy and to research. With five PhD students currently undertaking research across a number of social welfare issues, we are looking forward to contributing further to innovative outcomes for the sector.

Arguably the most significant change over the 2016–17 financial year was a change in our culture. CAFS understands that in a very competitive environment it is essential to be professional and accountable whilst maintaining a commitment to service delivery and improved client outcomes. This commitment to a professional and businesslike approach was recognised in August 2016 with CAFS winning the not-for-profit business award at the Federation Business School Commerce Ballarat Business Excellence Awards. In addition, from amongst 16 category winners, CAFS was very proud to also win the Federation Business School Business of the Year!

After 151 years of operations, it was fantastic for a charity to be recognised for business excellence, with this highly regarded accolade playing an important part in helping to raise CAFS’ profile. By entering and winning this award, CAFS was exposed to a very broad range of potential supporters and looks forward to developing these relationships as we build our charitable endeavours.

With the adoption of a new strategic plan from 1 July 2016, CAFS began the next stage in its development. The 2016–2019 plan carries forward the six pillars of the organisation, albeit with some important changes – “Early Intervention” was changed to “Prevention & Early Intervention”. We are also committed to ensuring the traditional owners of the land are
both recognised and acknowledged and have therefore included this element as a key component of our strategic plan.

Significantly, a new pillar, “Organisational Capability”, has been added to the strategic plan. This is all about making CAFS the very best organisation it can be, with our commitment being reflected in our facilities and infrastructure as well to our staff by providing them with professional development opportunities.

In 2016–17 the Business Development unit was created and the
CAFS Foundation was established. The Business Development unit will work very closely with the CAFS Foundation, which exists to raise funds for CAFS programs as well as seek funding for our innovative programs that provide client benefits above and beyond those traditionally funded across the sector.

Pleasingly, we are also making progress with three major initiatives:

  • The first of these is Wozzles’ five-year strategic plan. Wozzles Wearhouse, our social enterprise, has been a great contributor to CAFS for over 26 years now and, in 2016–17, CAFS signed contracts for a new distribution centre that will enable us to increase our processing capacity and ultimately provide more clothing and items for sale via our opportunity shops. We have also planned a new retail outlet in Sebastopol, which will take our total store count to four. The plans for Wozzles are very exciting, which feature an enhanced role for Wozzle the Ballarat bear.
  • The second major initiative involves a feasibility study for a commercial building at the rear of Ludbrook House, CAFS’ main office in Lydiard Street North, Ballarat. This initiative could involve three levels of office accommodation, two levels of car parking, as well as an entire floor devoted to conference facilities. It is planned that access to this facility would be via Lydiard Street, which would provide a very attractive offering in helping CAFS to secure a large tenancy for the proposed site.
  • The third major initiative is a feasibility study in relation to
    the establishment of a therapeutic farm. The “CAFS Farm” could be a place for assessment and for therapeutic interventions based on animal-assisted therapies. There is a growing body of evidence that supports the benefits of interactions with nature as well as the importance of animals in helping to heal trauma.

As part of the CAFS Farm Feasibility Study, I had the opportunity to visit a range of farm models in the UK and across Ireland in May 2017. These visits enabled me to see firsthand the many examples of working therapeutic farms, and they have provided valuable insights in how to make such a venture a success with CAFS. I greatly appreciated that opportunity and have no doubt this type of farm model could have application within the Ballarat and broader region.

I would like to acknowledge the contribution made to CAFS by its Board of Governance. One of CAFS’ great strengths is the fact that it is community owned and governed, and the time and effort put in by the board members at meetings and functions, and their involvement in committees, is greatly appreciated.

I also want to thank, in particular, the members of the CAFS Executive for their contributions. I have great confidence in Christine Harding, General Manager Programs & Services, Shane Callahan, General Manager Corporate Services, and Justin Eastcott, General Manager Business Development, who are all extremely capable. I’d also like to acknowledge the contributions of the senior management team, all our staff in their various locations and, of course, our wonderful volunteers, who really do give us their all. CAFS is fortunate
to have such capable and committed people to help drive us forward.

Allan Joy, Chief Executive Officer