‘Min­i­mal dis­rup­tion’ from changes

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

Com­mu­nity sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tion Unit­ing Wim­mera has re­as­sured the re­gion changes to its cor­po­rate struc­ture will have min­i­mal dis­rup­tion to its ser­vices and pro­grams.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Wendy Sturgess said a July de­ci­sion of 23 Unit­ing Church com­mu­nity ser­vice agen­cies in Vic­to­ria and Tas­ma­nia to merge and cre­ate ‘Unit­ing’ had pro­vided the best op­por­tu­nity for the or­gan­i­sa­tion to con­tinue its com­mu­nity work.

She said the move, while di­rectly af­fect­ing about a dozen staff mem­bers, would lead to deeper and more sus­tain­able com­mu­nity sup­port.

“As Unit­ing, the pos­i­tive im­pact we can have on vul­ner­a­ble com­mu­ni­ties is so much greater. Our com­bined ser­vices reach from here in the Wim­mera to Al­bury-wodonga in the north, Mal­la­coota in East Gipp­s­land and across Tas­ma­nia,” she said.

“We now have 3500 em­ploy­ees, an equal num­ber of vol­un­teers and more than 200,000 clients be­hind us to ad­vo­cate for ser­vices in­clud­ing our cur­rent cam­paign for a Sup­port and Safety Hub to be in Hor­sham – not just War­rnam­bool.”

For­merly Wim­mera Unit­ing Care, Unit­ing Wim­mera em­ploys a staff of about 300 and pro­vides more than 70 ser­vices to about 8000 peo­ple each year in the re­gion; cov­er­ing child and fam­ily, dis­abil­ity, men­tal health, early learn­ing, al­co­hol and other drugs, hous­ing and foster care pro­grams.

The merger was in re­sponse to re­forms in the com­mu­nity ser­vices sec­tor and de­signed to give peo­ple more choice, more con­trol and eas­ier ac­cess to com­mu­nity ser­vices.

This in­cluded roll­out of the Na­tional Dis­abil­ity In­sur­ance Scheme and con­sumer-directed care in aged care.

“There are sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits that come with be­ing part of a big­ger or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­clud­ing look­ing at the best prac­tice models from across Vic­to­ria and Tas­ma­nia and bring­ing them to the Wim­mera,” Ms Sturgess said.

She said an in­te­gra­tion pro­gram in­clud­ing changes to cor­po­rate sup­port func­tions such as fi­nance would con­tinue through 2017-18.

“We are still part-way through the process. At this stage, we en­vis­age about a dozen of our 300 staff mem­bers will be im­pacted,” she said.

“We have been work­ing with the staff af­fected by th­ese changes and will con­tinue to do so. It is im­por­tant they are con­sulted, sup­ported and have the op­por­tu­nity to con­sider re­de­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties within Unit­ing.

“In line with the ef­fi­cien­cies re­quired by the many com­mu­nity-sec­tor re­forms con­fronting all ser­vice providers, we do ex­pect a re­duc­tion in the to­tal num­ber of staff in cor­po­rate sup­port roles across Unit­ing.

“But we are en­cour­ag­ing those im­pacted to ap­ply for roles within the new struc­ture, which might have the flex­i­bil­ity to be per­formed re­motely.

“We have al­ready seen some staff in Hor­sham ap­pointed to new roles.”

Ms Sturgess stressed the pe­riod of change was in­ter­nal and that on the ground, Unit­ing Wim­mera of­fered the same ex­tent and qual­ity of ser­vices in the same lo­ca­tions.

“Unit­ing Wim­mera’s pri­or­ity is to con­tinue to de­liver the im­por­tant ser­vices that in­spire peo­ple, en­liven our com­mu­ni­ties and con­front in­jus­tice,” she said.

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