03/07/2007 - 22:00

Not for profit: United approach to meet need

03/07/2007 - 22:00


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Twelve months after the consolidation of its various agencies, community services provider UnitingCare West is entering a new phase of development, with the release last week of its strategic business plan.

Not for profit: United approach to meet need

Twelve months after the consolidation of its various agencies, community services provider UnitingCare West is entering a new phase of development, with the release last week of its strategic business plan.


The organisation, which is part of the Uniting Church in Australia, undertook a major restructure on July 1 last year when eight of its independent arms – the Fremantle Wesley Mission, Mofflyn, the Rainbow Project, Trinity Outreach Services, UCA Outreach Services, Uniting Community House, UnitingCare Kwinana, and Wesley Mission Perth – were brought together under the UnitingCare West brand.


The strategic plan outlines the organisation’s aim to direct its resources towards high-need areas over the next two years.


UnitingCareWest chief executive officer Chris Hall said the plan would be putting the organisation at the forefront of community service delivery.


“The key change we’ve set for ourselves is to position the organisation to respond to those in most need in the community. We’re not going to try and meet every community need,” he said.


UnitingCareWest began drafting its strategic plan in July last year, through consultation with external stakeholders, staff and board members.


Mr Hall said the plan clarified the organisation’s service delivery model.


“What we are interested in is going where other providers are either not able to go or are not willing to go,” he said.


“We don’t want to just simply be another community service agency.”


One of the main elements of the plan is a needs-based growth strategy targeting regional suburbs, including Kwinana, Rockingham, Armadale, Midland, and Girrawheen.


“We’ve actually got a fairly significant property portfolio at the moment and we’re looking to position ourselves in those geographical areas,” Mr Hall said.


“It will mean some additional resources requirements and over time we will have to redirect some of our existing resources.”


UnitingCareWest already provides some services in outer metropolitan suburbs, including a drop-in homeless centre and child protection services.


Mr Hall said the strategic plan would address a major issue in the community services sector – the growing complexity of clients’ needs.


“Previously, if somebody was homeless, you simply worked with them to help them find a roof over their head,” he said.


“Now, homelessness may be the presenting issue, but in many cases there may be drug related problems, mental health issues or family issues. The complexity is far greater than it’s ever been.”


The expense of professional development and training is another issue affecting the organisation.


“We need to try and allocate funding from our own resources and look for other opportunities. One of the benefits of the merger is it enables us to get some economy of scale in that area,” Mr Hall said.


This month, UnitingCare West relocated its central office from the CBD to Victoria Park, taking over the building that was recently vacated by the Association for the Blind, and moved some services into a new building on Hay Street, although Mr Hall said finding office space was a challenge.


“We’re finding it exceptionally difficult to find suitable properties that meet our needs,” he said.


A year after the restructure, Mr Hall said the organisation was achieving its aim of improving service delivery, reducing duplication and improving governance.


“We just believe we can provide a better suite and more integrated set of services, rather than stand alone agencies,” he said.


“Another factor in our restructure was achieving better organisation and stewardship of our resources and assets.”


The organisation is also experiencing some financial benefit.


“Our intention always was to better integrate our agencies, not to create cost efficiencies, although we know anecdotally we are getting some efficiencies in that area,” Mr Hall said. 



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