Uniting Wimmera focuses on service delivery amid internal change

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Uniting Wimmera has an ongoing has commitment to ensuring minimal disruption to services and program delivery as it undergoes changes to its corporate support functions.

Formerly known as Wimmera UnitingCare, Uniting Wimmera employs about 300 staff 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.

In July 2017, the organisation joined 23 other Uniting Church community service agencies in Victoria and Tasmania to become a single organisation, Uniting.

The move was in response to a number of important reforms in the community services sector designed to give people more choice, more control and easier access to community services. This includes rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and consumer directed care in aged care.

Uniting Wimmera Executive Officer Wendy Sturgess said the decision to merge with like-minded organisations, all embodying the ethos of compassion and care, provided the best opportunity to continue the organisation’s important work in the community for many years to come.

She said the move would lead to deeper and more sustainable support for local communities.

“As Uniting the positive impact we can have on vulnerable communities is so much greater. Our 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 3,500 employees, an equal number of volunteers and over 200,000 clients behind us to advocate for services including our current campaign for a Support and Safety Hub to be located here in Horsham – not just Warrnambool.

“There are significant benefits that come with being a 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 acknowledged that the 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 around a dozen out of our 300 staff 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 that 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 may have the flexibility to be performed remotely. We have already seen some staff in Horsham appointed to new roles.”

Ms Sturgess said the current 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.”


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