Uniting together

NIGEL TAPP

A new single board will assume governance responsibility for 22 Uniting Church community service agencies from Monday 3 October. The emerging organisation will be known as ‘Uniting’.

In June last year, the Synod Standing Committee (SSC) resolved to establish a single governance board to oversee service delivery and support functions for all community service across Victoria and Tasmania. The UnitingCare Network Project Control Group (PCG) was formed and has worked for more than a year to realise the new strategic direction.

PCG Chair Bob Hodges said the changing face of the community services sector led to the new direction.

“Australia’s community services sector is undergoing enormous change in order to meet increasing community needs and the changing way clients will access services (in the future),’’ Mr Hodges said.

As reported in June Crosslight, the skills-based board will be chaired by former Victorian Health Minister Bronwyn Pike. Paul Linossier, previously the CEO of Wesley Mission Victoria, has been appointed as the inaugural Chief Executive Officer. Mr Linossier has more than three decades experience in leading organisational change and systems reform while maintaining a strong commitment to marginalised and vulnerable people.

He said the merging agencies had a rich history of providing care, support and community partnerships. Together, he said, we can do more.

“We will have a stronger advocacy voice and access to broader resources and skills to meet clients’ needs,” Mr Linossier said. “This change provides the best opportunity for us to continue our important work in the community for many years to come.”

For a period of time, each agency will continue to operate as they do now. The new board and executive will engage existing agencies to collaborate on the design of Uniting. This process should be complete by the middle of next year.

Mr Hodges said the name Uniting clearly places the new organisation as a community services ministry of the Uniting Church. He said the new identity also reflects the bold new direction to staff, clients and the community.

“Regardless of the name or how we visually represent the new organisation, peoples’ perceptions will always be built from their experiences,” Mr Hodges said.

“With the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and changes to Consumer Directed Care (CDC) for non-residential aged care services, we will need to be communicating with people within the context of a market place.”

When the merger is complete, Uniting will be one of the largest community service providers operating across the two states.

“Uniting is all about working together to inspire people, enliven communities and confront injustice,” Paul Linossier said. “We are Uniting to have greater impact.”

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