Uniting Communities News

Welcome to the first edition of UConnect for 2017. I hope you have enjoyed a happy and healthy start to the new year.

Uniting Communities finished 2016 in a flurry of activity, from developing frameworks for new services, to hosting a very successful Lifeline Adelaide Champions lunch on mental health, to further developing our U City retirement living accommodation, a feature of the new Uniting in the City development in the CBD.

Once again, the year ahead is shaping up to be a productive one. We look forward to the commencement of the build- ing phase for our new development, which commenced following our engagement of the project builder, Built. This multi-use building promises to be a world first in city- based residential, commercial and retail space, and will broaden our capacity to offer more services for people in the CBD.

We continue to prepare, adapt and innovate ahead of significant funding reforms in the sector, particularly for aged care and disability. Our teams are managing our transition as we head into the roll-out of coming stages of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and we are further refining and developing our offering for home- based aged care support.

Our focus continues to be on providing the best possible experience for everyone who uses our services.

Importantly, we are in the planning stages for our new Strategic Plan, a focus for our Executive team and Board. This has provided a useful opportunity to reflect on the outcomes and ongoing achievements of our 2014-17 Plan, while looking ahead to the next period of innova- tion for our organisation and, most importantly, for the communities we serve.

We look forward to your support as we continue to write this exciting chapter of Uniting Communities’ story.

It has been a productive phase in the advocacy space at Uniting Communities.

Not only are we responding to great change within our organisation, but also globally. Our Advocacy team is work- ing to address just some of the pertinent issues facing those

who are most disadvantaged in our community.

Energy pricing, for example, remains a challenge for low-income households. Energy bills have been the most commonly raised concern from our financial counselling clients, and from people accessing other low-income support services. Studies show that one in five households are cutting back on groceries and oth- er essentials to be able to pay for their electricity bills.

And we are seeing positive results. Uniting Commu- nities is presently the only organisation in the commu- nity sector to be negotiating with the energy regulator to ensure fair and affordable energy pricing, and we continue to raise awareness of the issue with regular media coverage.

Online gambling reform is another important area on our radar. This issue is gaining momentum around the world and, as it is currently unregulated, is posing particular risks for people with gambling problems. We are in the planning stages of a project that will seek to address this on a broader international scale.

It is through this kind of lobbying at the local and international level that we can continue to effect positive change for community members in need.

Reverend Peter McDonald Minister Executive Manager, Advocacy and Community Relations

Simon Schrapel AM Chief Executive

Front cover

Mitch Creek, Lifeline Ambassador and Adelaide 36ers Captain.

UConnect Written and produced by Uniting Communities.

Uniting Communities is an agency of the Uniting Church in Australia.

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