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Chief Executive

Simon Schrapel

South Australians are living through both uncertain and transformative times with disruptions to our traditional economic and employment opportunities. Uniting Communities, throughout its long history, has played an important role in reaching out to and helping those who face difficulties and experience vulnerability as a result of these transitions and the challenges they bring.

Over the last year we have built on our broad and extensive service base to reach more people and families in need – including those who are adjusting to increased frailty and decline in health, families in conflict, people seeking shelter or asylum and those living with a disability.

We have continued to build our responses to those living in regional communities through our involvement in the provision of Regional Assessment Services for older people seeking assistance to maintain a healthy independence at home, to the provision of a new headspace youth mental health service in Mt Gambier.

Importantly, we have continued our focus on building compassionate and sustaining community through our service network. Connecting those who are often excluded from community life to people and activities in their community is quintessentially ‘Uniting Communities’ – it’s who we are and it’s what we believe in.

At the same time, we have maintained a fierce determination to advocate for fairer and more just public policy which better protects the interests of those most vulnerable. From promoting and advocating the interests

of remote communities in the far north-west of South Australia to the rights of asylum seekers and low-income households struggling with rising cost-of-living pressures, Uniting Communities has given voice.

As our economy experiences great structural change, so too does the environment in which social services are delivered. Over the past year, this has brought challenges for Uniting Communities as an organisation and, most importantly, for those who make us who we are – our staff and volunteers. The advent of consumer directed care, and enhanced choice and control over services available for older Australians and those living with a disability, has driven the need to reform how we organise and deliver our services. Our staff are making enormous adjustments to accommodate new systems and processes which better meet customer expectations. This, in itself, is as transformative for Uniting Communities as anything we have undertaken over our long and rich history.

These changes will be an ongoing feature of the world in which we live and Uniting Communities will continue, as a progressive organisation, to transform to meet these changing demands and expectations.

Simon Schrapel Chief Executive

Uniting Communities Annual Report 2016 | 5

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