B14 – UnitingCare Australia

The Uniting Church in Australia proudly shares the tradition of the Christian Church. It traces its origins to the call by the God of Abraham and Sarah, honours the Hebrew Scriptures and bases its confessions in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as recorded in the documents of the New Testament. The church exists to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

The Uniting Church believes that God’s action in Christ is the declaration of a new creation and involves the transformation of humanity, within a restored natural world.

The Church seeks to make known the meaning and claim of this decisive action of God, and challenges us to be a fellowship of reconciliation.

In the Gospels and through the work and teachings of Jesus Christ, the foundations are laid for the Church’s understanding of its mission in community services. Jesus’ ministry challenged people to give more serious attention to the nature of service to one another.

Engaging the church with the world through community services provides us with opportunity to live out a Christian vision which is inclusive, all-encompassing and which looks for equality of opportunity for individuals, communities and people.
UnitingCare Australia, Faith Foundations

1. ABOUT UNITINGCARE AUSTRALIA

UnitingCare Australia’s Mission is to express God’s love for all people through the Uniting Church’s commitment to supporting individuals, families and communities through advocacy and the enhancement of community service provision.

1.1. The role of the Agency
Acting within guidelines set by the Assembly or the Assembly Standing Committee, and grounded in the experience of UnitingCare service providers, UnitingCare Australia:

1. Encourages theological reflection on the Church’s community services work.
2. Advocates to Government and within the Church and community those policies and practices which enhance the dignity of people, especially those who are most disadvantaged and marginalised.
3. Enables exchange of information across Synods and Uniting Church service providers.
4. Seeks to enhance the quality of community service provision by the Uniting Church.
5. Represents the views of Uniting Church service providers to governments.
6. Works as appropriate with other churches and peak organisations in the community services field.
7. Acts on requests and referrals from Synods and the Assembly.

This paper reports on that activity according to the following four broadly defined areas:
• Theological reflection
• Advocacy, policy analysis and policy development
• Enhancing the quality of community service provision by the Uniting Church
• Communication and collaboration

UnitingCare Australia contributes to the life of the Church by:
1. Focusing the activities of the agency on the vision of the Assembly as a whole.
2. Advising the Assembly and/or the Assembly Standing Committee on policy matters within their areas of responsibility.
3. Making policy decisions where the Assembly or the Assembly Standing Committee has delegated authority, either through UnitingCare Australia’s Mandate or by resolution.

1.2. Agency principles and scope
UnitingCare Australia’s work is grounded in guiding principles and values as outlined in the Agency’s Mandate. These guiding principles and values state that:
• UnitingCare Australia will bring to all aspects of its work and ministry the theological framework that God’s love is extended to all people, with no discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, sexuality, ability, class colour, creed or cultural origin.
• UnitingCare Australia will work co-operatively and ecumenically, giving expression to the unity of God’s love for the world, and the church as a loving agency.
• UnitingCare Australia will constantly seek to develop national best practice supporting and giving focus to its work in the areas of policy and practical outcomes.

Propelled by our values and a theologically grounded understanding of hope and vision for a good society, we seek to make a practical difference in the world. The work of UnitingCare Australia is informed by: the daily experience of the countless Australians (estimated to be 2 million) who are supported by UnitingCare each year; the expertise of the UnitingCare network; and the ongoing life of the Church. It is the coming together of values, vision and experience that gives strength and integrity to our activity.

Together with other agencies of the church, UnitingCare Australia works to promote a just and participatory society, a united humanity, respect for all, and investment in the common good. For us, this expressed particularly in relation to policy and practice associated with the provision of community services. Our task is to make explicit the connections between faith, social policy, and outcomes on the ground; to government, to the church, and into the public domain.

UnitingCare Australia plays a significant role in promoting the Uniting Church’s perspectives to government and the wider community; developing national positions; gathering and disseminating information; networking with other church and community bodies; and advocating our position to the Australian Parliament and relevant Australian Government departments.

The UnitingCare Network
The community services of the Uniting Church in Australia are extensive and diverse. The UnitingCare Network employs approximately 39,000 staff and is supported by the work of over 28,000 volunteers. We have more than 1,200 sites throughout the country. UnitingCare, as the network of community services and activities within the Uniting Church, gives concrete expression to God’s love for the world.

UnitingCare Australia enables collaboration between agencies, institutions, missions and Synods, and is a powerful vehicle for providing a unified public voice and collective action and activity. The work of UnitingCare Australia is embedded in the life and witness of the Uniting Church.

1.3. Agency mandate and priorities
UnitingCare Australia’s mandate is to take up community service issues within the theological framework of the Uniting Church, particularly the Church’s social justice perspectives; to develop and reflect on the policies and practices of the Uniting Church in Community Services; and to pursue appropriate issues within the Uniting Church, with Government and the community sector, with the Australian community and with other parts of the Church.

Over the past triennium, UnitingCare Australia has been guided by its Strategic Directions 2012-2015 (Appendix B). During this period, the advocacy work has been focussed on:

• Ageing and aged care including:
o Aged care reform
• Children, young people and families with a focus on vulnerable families, promoting early intervention and prevention
• Costs of living for low income and vulnerable Australians, including:
o Energy poverty
o Income support justice including inadequacy of payments, compulsory income management, and improving financial health and wellbeing
o assessing and responding to the impacts of structural adjustments to the economy on people and communities’ capacity to access the means and opportunity for a decent life
• Employment and employment support services
• Affordable housing and homelessness
• Disability services reform, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme
• Funding adequacy for services
• Government and not for profit interface systems and processes
• Taxation
• Regulation
• Workforce
• Government and not-for-profit relationship
• Assisting the community services of the Uniting Church in responding to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

1.4. Agency Governance
The Assembly has delegated governance and functional responsibilities for UnitingCare Australia to its National Committee and Executive. The agency’s governance arrangements are set out in UnitingCare Australia’s Governance Arrangements (Appendix C).

The National Committee has the responsibility to:
• approve social policy and other positions of UnitingCare Australia;
• assist and advise the National Director on the strategic direction for the national work;
• resource, acquire, and allocate national work;
• review the outcomes of national work;
• recommend an annual budget to the Assembly’s Standing Committee through AFARC;
• ensure adequate organisational policy and practices;
• manage the establishment, membership and operations of national network groups and other working groups as necessary to further the work of UnitingCare Australia; and
• negotiate with the Assembly where there is an interest in varying Assembly workplace policies and act on any delegations of authority to vary such policies for UnitingCare Australia.

The Executive of the National Committee is empowered to act on behalf of the National Committee between meetings of the National Committee in respect of any of the responsibilities of the National Committee except such as the National Committee may determine.

In addition to its standing role, the Executive ensures that the financial operations of UnitingCare Australia are running appropriately. This includes:
• monitoring the budget and providing advice to the National Committee on income, expenditure and cash flow;
• presenting to a meeting of the National Committee information to enable timely input to the National Audit and Finance Committee of the Assembly regarding the annual UnitingCare budget for the following financial year; and
• considering the draft budget from the Assembly’s National Audit and Finance Committee to enable timely input into the Assembly Standing Committee determination of the UnitingCare Australia budget for the following financial year (noting that this is currently by the end of October each year).

The Executive of the National Committee is responsible for oversight of risk and reporting to the AFARC on these issues.

National Committee
The National Committee, as the key governance body of UnitingCare Australia and is appointed by the National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia.

The National Committee membership comprises three ex-officio members, six synod representatives and five appointed members.

Ex officio members
Peter Bicknell, Chair
Glenda Blakefield, Associate General Secretary of the Assembly
Lin Hatfield Dodds, National Director

Synod Representatives

Queensland Synod

New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory

Northern Synod

Western Australia

South Australia

Victoria and Tasmania Anne Cross, Chief Executive Officer UnitingCare QLD
Peter Worland, Executive Director UnitingCare NSW.ACT (from March 2013)
Rev Harry Herbert, Executive Director UnitingCare NSW.ACT (until June 2012)
Daphne Read, Chair, Board of Directors of Somerville Community Services
Rev John Dunn, Chair, UnitingCare Forum Western Australia
Rev Rob Brown, Executive Officer, UnitingCare South Australia
Stephanie Lagos, Director, UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania (from June 2014)
Charles Gibson, Director, UnitingCare Victoria and Tasmania (until November 2013)

Appointed Members
Geoff Batkin, Executive Director, Wesley Mission Brisbane
Sue Ash, Chief Executive Officer, UnitingCare Western Australia
Libby Craft, Chief Executive Officer, UnitingCare Wesley Port Adelaide
Anna Moynihan, Director of Strategy, UnitingCare Queensland
Keith Garner, Wesley Mission in Sydney (until June 2012)
Chris England, Wesley Mission in Sydney (from March 2014)
Claerwen Little, Executive Director, UnitingCare Children, Young People and Families

Executive
The Executive comprises:
• the Chair of the National Committee
• the National Director
• the Assembly General Secretary or their nominee
• two (2) other members of the National Committee, one of whom shall not be in an ex-officio position

The Executive is currently comprised of:
Peter Bicknell (Chair)
Lin Hatfield Dodds (National Director)
Glenda Blakefield (Nominee of the Assembly General Secretary)
Anne Cross (ex-officio)
Sue Ash (not ex-officio)

1.5. Agency Funding
UnitingCare Australia is funded by contributions from the UnitingCare network. This funding is occasionally supplemented by grants for specific purposes.

1.6. Agency Operation
UnitingCare Australia has eight permanent, full-time staff and two part time staff members. UnitingCare Australia is located in Canberra, in close proximity to Parliament House.

UnitingCare Australia works with the UnitingCare network through national networks and working groups whose members are appointed by the National Committee. The networks and working groups assist in identifying issues and enable the network to work across organisational boundaries to pursue common goals. Members of these networks are drawn from across the UnitingCare network.

Networks have broad areas of interest and are not time-limited. Working groups are established for issue-specific, time-limited purposes. The terms of reference for each of these networks and groups are established by the national committee. Networks and groups report to the National Committee.

The role of these networks and working groups is to develop, review and reflect upon the policies and practices of the Uniting Church in its community services ministry with people; and to contribute to the advocacy of UnitingCare Australia.

The four networks that are currently active are:
1. UnitingCare Australia’s Network on Ageing
2. UnitingCare Australia’s Children Young People and Families Network
3. UnitingCare Australia Welfare Network
4. UnitingCare Australia Ministry and Missions Network

Over the past triennium the following groups have been active:
• Disability Interest Group
• Emergency Relief and Financial Counselling Interest Group
• Energy Affordability reference group
• Gambling reference group
• National Information Communication Technology Group

2. REPORTING AGAINST UNITINGCARE AUSTRALIA’S MANDATE

2.1. Theological reflection
The agency’s Faith Foundations document provides a theological framework for the activity of UnitingCare Australia. The value and distinctive contribution UnitingCare Australia makes to public policy debate stems from its faith foundations, and the continuing process of theological reflection and discernment that guides the agency and the wider UnitingCare Network.

The Ministry and Mission network provides an opportunity for those working in the Uniting Church and agencies with particular leadership responsibilities for mission and culture, to connect, dialogue, and reflect on the policies and practices of the Uniting Church in its community services with people.

Chaired by Colleen Geyer (UnitingCare Queensland) the Network assists UnitingCare to reflect theologically about the basis of our work and the activity our agencies are engaged with. The network’s particular tasks are to:
• Engage representatives from agencies and missions in relevant conversations and meetings in order to build a shared understanding of current issues facing faith-based community service providers;
• Reflect on current issues facing agencies and missions, and to offer these reflections to the Uniting Church Assembly and Synods, UnitingCare Australia, and Synod UnitingCare agencies and Uniting Church missions to inform theological considerations and positions, and practical service outcomes; and
• Provide peer support to people in similar roles through shared resources and learning opportunities.

The Network is currently working on developing a theology of social service for the Uniting Church.

UnitingCare Australia has also recognised the need to spend time reflecting on the place of faith-based agencies in social service delivery and to clarify the independent identity of UnitingCare services that deliver government funded services. A project is underway to clearly articulate the contribution of the UnitingCare Network to the Australian community, and to articulate their value.

During the last triennium, UnitingCare Australia began work with UnitingWorld to build a partnership between the Uniting Church in Australia and the Protestant Church in China (China Christian Council/Three Self Patriotic Movement). There are three elements to this partnership: the development and sharing of theology; working together on theological education; and sharing knowledge and experience about the delivery of social services. UnitingCare Australia is involved in all three of these aspects of the relationship. This engagement will assist UnitingCare Australia, the UnitingCare Network and the Uniting Church in Australia in broadening and deepening our theological reflection of the social services of the Uniting Church.

2.2. Advocacy, policy analysis and policy development
Using our size, scope and diversity as a national network, we continue to advocate for policies and positions that build opportunity for all people to live hope-filled lives in an environment that promotes wellbeing.

UnitingCare Australia engages in advocacy to three major sets of stakeholders:
• To government and parliament;
• Across the Uniting Church and wider Australian community; and
• Within the UnitingCare network, seeking the enhancement of the quality of advocacy and community service provision.
All of UnitingCare Australia’s advocacy work is focused on the well-being of vulnerable people and ensuring that all people can flourish. This advocacy is not driven by self-preservation, but by achieving the best outcomes for vulnerable people. Sometimes this means that UnitingCare Australia argues for policies and practices that make the community services work of the church more challenging, but this is consistent with the mandate which tasks UnitingCare Australia to “give expression to…the church as a loving agency.”

2.2.1. Policy analysis, policy development and advocacy to government
UnitingCare Australia is non-partisan and has a focus on evidence-based advocacy. This evidence base is sourced from the experience of UnitingCare agencies and missions across Australia, and research which develops an evidence base for policy analysis and development.

UnitingCare Australia collaborates with other like-minded groups where possible. We work closely with other major church providers (Anglicare, Salvation Army, Catholic Social Care and Baptist Care) with the goal of influencing Australian society for the better. UnitingCare Australia not only raise issues but also works towards solutions. Success is not measured by the volume of advocacy but by the positive impact achieved. An advocacy framework is used to identify key goals and measure effectiveness according to those goals (Appendix D).

The last three years of advocacy activity has taken place in a complex and unstable political environment. UnitingCare Australia has worked with three different Ministers for Social Services and three different Prime Ministers during this time. UnitingCare Australia has maintained strong working relationships with all political parties and has maintained strong working relationships with key government departments. UnitingCare Australia has been invited to consult privately and publicly on key issues facing vulnerable Australians and the social services sector.

UnitingCare Australia helped make the case for consumer choice in social services, advocating for a strong NDIS and playing a key role in shaping aged care reforms. The agency worked to preserve and build a more adequate safety net for the most vulnerable people by conducting research on the inadequacy of Newstart payments, sharing findings with government and the public, and engaging closely on numerous welfare inquiries. UnitingCare Australia has become a leader in the field of energy policy, commissioning research on the pricing of energy and advocating within the energy sector and to the regulator to ensure that prices are fair for low-income people.

A large amount of work has also been carried out in relation to reforming the not-for-profit sector. UnitingCare Australia has worked to prevent numerous pieces of legislation that would limit the independence and freedom of not-for-profits, making the sector more tightly restricted by government contracting and regulation. Particular noteworthy was UnitingCare Australia’s work in establishing and ensuring the passage of legislation protecting the freedom charities have to advocate.

UnitingCare Australia has argued for a tax and transfer system that is fair, equitable and that raises enough revenue to fund the things that matter.

Highlights over the last three years have included:
• Playing an instrumental role in achieving significant reform in aged care through leveraging the Productivity Commission report on aged care into the Living Longer Living Better legislation. Living Longer Living Better is widely acknowledged to be the most significant reform in aged care in over a decade.
• Providing the Australian Government with comprehensive modelling around the financial implications of the gender equity pay claim being considered by Fair Work Australia. UnitingCare Australia gathered data related to more than 95% of UnitingCare staff under the relevant award and built a model to predict the financial implications for UnitingCare agencies and for the government (as the primary funder of the outcomes from the claim).
• Securing legislative protection for the right of charities and churches to undertake advocacy. Working closely with then Finance Minister Senator Penny Wong and her office, and assisting Treasurer David Bradbury and his office, UnitingCare Australia shaped the Australian Government’s agenda around not-for-profit reform resulting in new legislation which prohibited the Australian Government from imposing gag clauses on churches and charities.
• Working with the other Major Church Providers, to shape key social elements of two of the three stimulus packages. Achievements include fifty million dollars for financial counsellors, a significant increase in emergency relief funding, and the take up and roll out by the Australian Government of UnitingCare Queensland’s intellectual property on training and equipping financial counsellors fast.
• Submissions to parliamentary, departmental and independent inquiries and reviews on a wide range of areas, including welfare reform, early childhood education and care, aged care, budget measures, income inequality, energy pricing and regulation, competition policy, public transport, charity law, taxation and disability insurance.
• Coordinating and leading the production of a national report on financial stress titled Financial Hardship in Australia, released in July 2013, which highlighted the inadequacy of the Newstart allowance.
• Receiving funding from the Consumer Advocacy Panel to research energy costs. UnitingCare Australia has taken a leading role nationally, as subject-area experts in this field.
• Coordinating the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce (until 2012-2013)
• Contributing to the Welfare Reform Review, chaired by Patrick McClure and helping build support for an “investment approach” to welfare in Australia.
• Building support for the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
• Securing a stronger ACNC structure through working to improve the Governance Standards and Reporting Framework.
• Bringing together disparate voices across the child rights and child services sectors to provide a coherent view to government about the need for a National Commissioner for Children, culminating in the appointment of the Australia’s first National Children’s Commissioner in 2013.
• Submitting to a national review of mental health services in Australia.
• Identifying superannuation tax concessions that lead to regressive outcomes in the tax system. Advocating for changes to those concessions and raising the public profile of the issue.

Government and sector working groups
In the past three years UnitingCare has been active on a number of government and sector working groups. We have participated in:
• National Aged Care Alliance (NACA)
• Minister for Ageing Expert Advisory group on Aged Care Reform
• Social Services Reporting Duplication Working Party (ACNC)
• Department of Finance Procurement Consultation Committee
• Not-for-profit steering committee on implementation of Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act
• ATO Not-for-proft (NFP) Advisory Group
• Families Australia Coalition of Organisations Committed to the Safety and Wellbeing of Australia’s Children
• NLEO
• Major Church Providers
• Australian Social Inclusion Board
• Strategic Workforce Advisory Group (Aged Care)
• Aged Care Reform implementation working groups (numerous)
• Minister for Human Services National Place-Based Advisory group
• Not-for-Profit Reform Council’s Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission Fundraising Working Group
• The ATO Charities Consultative Committee
• Volunteer Workplace Health and Safety Working Group
• National Compact Working Group
• Not-for-Profit Sector Tax Concession Working Group
• Social and Community Services (SACs) Roundtable
• The Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Implementation Group
• Social and Community Services Roundtable

2.2.2 Advocacy within the Church and Australian community
Over the last triennium UnitingCare Australia has raised the profile of key social issues within the Church and among the General public. The agency has continued to: raise the issue of problem gambling and has coordinated other churches on this subject; help people understand and advocate on energy policy; spoken at churches about the community services work of the Uniting Church; written about key social issues for church publications; and developed an online portal for advocacy resources to enable people to advocate on social issues.

The online portal, Uniting for Change, has been used at various times, as a key resource on domestic policy issues that have significant consequences for vulnerable Australians. Through Uniting for Change information was collected about the issue of problem gambling, ideas were for how this issue could be addressed, and resources were provided to enable advocacy on this subject. Uniting for Change was also used to inform the Church and broader public about the issues surrounding gambling and how Australia’s crisis in problem gambling can be addressed. Uniting for Change has also been used to promote the policy work of UnitingCare Australia and to educate the church and public about the political system in Australia.

This project has proved to be very challenging. UnitingCare Australia is committed to helping build stronger dialogue between Uniting Church members and congregations and the social services of the Uniting Church. In practice, building those connections with very few resources has been difficult. The project has been limited by its lack of profile, restricted resources and a need to build stronger, direct relationships with the target audience in order to better tailor and refine the product to meet the needs of the people it is designed for. UnitingCare Australia has learned that building the tool is just the first step in engaging effectively.

After each Federal Budget UnitingCare Australia has provided expert analysis, commentating in the mainstream media and informing the UnitingCare Network and the broader Australian public about the implications of the Budget for vulnerable people.
UnitingCare Australia encourages its wider networks to utilize UnitingCare policy materials, to enhance their own advocacy work in their own context, and uses stories from UnitingCare agencies to support the national advocacy and policy work. Policy materials, positions papers and other documents are posted onto the UnitingCare Australia website to support this approach.

UnitingCare Australia also collaborates with other agencies and councils of the Church, such as UnitingJustice (Assembly); UnitingWorld (Assembly); the Ministry for Christian Unity, Doctrine and Worship (Assembly); Uniting Mission and Education in NSW.ACT Synod; and the Justice and International Mission unit of the Victoria and Tasmania Synod;, to educate, collaborate and advocate for policies and practices which enhance the dignity of all people. For example, UnitingCare Australia has collaborated with some of these groups to write joint submissions and has a regular presence at the National Young Adults Leaders Conferences.

2.3 Enhancing the quality of advocacy and community service provision by the Uniting Church
UnitingCare Australia’s networks and working groups have multiple purposes. They feed into the policy development of UnitingCare Australia but they also work as vehicles for sharing best practice and enabling agencies to improve the quality of their community service provision.
In the past triennium, UnitingCare Australia has undertaken numerous projects to build the quality and coherence of the Uniting Church’s community service provision and to assist the UnitingCare network in adapting to contextual changes that are occurring for the social services sector. These projects include: examining the possibility of developing a national vehicle for collaboration beyond state boundaries in service delivery; the development of a stronger national brand; and the establishment of a resource kit for volunteers.

Projects that enable greater coherence across the Uniting Church’s community services nationally have emerged in response to UnitingCare Australia’s knowledge of changes that are occurring in the social services sector. The agency’s presence on government working groups and committees allowed UnitingCare Australia to predict changes such as the move towards larger contracts in tendering and consumer choice in service delivery. Recognising these changes, UnitingCare Australia has helped the UnitingCare network adapt. For example, the agency’s leadership in assisting the network to clarify and reinvigorate its brand will enable services to more accurately represent themselves in a consumer-directed marketplace.

In 2014, UnitingCare Australia increased its involvement in a national fundraising effort of the network, the Target-UnitingCare Christmas appeal. Bringing a national presence to the project allowed for a stronger partnership to develop with Target and ultimately resulted in the appeal increasing donations by approximately 60 percent on the previous year.

UnitingCare Australia has taken a leadership role in assisting the church and its community services to respond to the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse. UnitingCare Australia is a member of the Taskforce on the Royal Commission and helped to draft the Church’s response, ensuring that transparency and accountability are prioritised.

2.4 Communication and collaboration
UnitingCare Australia works at the interface between government policy, funding, and regulation of service provision; the UnitingCare network; the lived experience of those who use our services; and the wider life of the Uniting Church.

UnitingCare Australia works cooperatively with other Uniting Church agencies, the National Council of Churches, and also with community services agencies from other denominations. Through the past triennium the Major Church Providers group has grown and strengthened. The Major Church Providers meet regularly in Canberra, release joint statements and reports, advocate together and collaborate where possible on areas of mutual concern. Collectively these agencies represent the vast majority of social services in Australia. When the churches speak with a unified voice the impact is significant.

Where appropriate, UnitingCare Australia works with other groups who share our concerns on specific items of policy or legislation. In the last triennium the agency was the Secretariat for the Australian Churches Gambling Taskforce, which UnitingCare Australia established in March 2011. Members include the heads of Australian Christian Churches and the heads of their social services agencies nationally, united by a commitment to reduce the significant harm caused by poker machines. Poker machine addiction is consistently in the top three reasons why people access our emergency relief, financial counselling and family crisis services across Australia. In 2012/2013 UnitingCare Australia handed over the Secretariat role for the Taskforce to the Unit for Justice and International Mission within the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania.

UnitingCare Australia also continues to work constructively with national community sector bodies such as NACA (the National Aged Care Alliance), ACSA (Aged and Community Services Australia) and ACOSS (the Australian Council of Social Services).
Highlights include:
• Collaborating with UnitingWorld to build a strong relationship with the Protestant Church in China (China Christian Council/Three Self Patriotic Movement).
• Auditing the community services of the Uniting Church across the country in order to understand the reach and scope of those services. The audit found that collectively the Uniting Church’s social services employ 39,000 people and are supported by 28,000 volunteers.
• Reviewing and improving the nation-wide Christmas appeal with Target in 2014.
• Growing the UnitingCare Australia presence on social media. This has been particularly strong on Twitter where we now have 5,000 followers.
• Working with other members of the Australian Church Gambling Taskforce to shape the National Gambling Reform Bills that passed through the Parliament in late 2012.
• Producing regular publications for the benefit of the UnitingCare network and broader public.
• Working with Catholic Health Australia to release a report on the Social Determinants of Health.
• Working with the other Major Church Providers to release a report on financial hardship in Australia.

3. ACTIONS FROM THIRTEENTH ASSEMBLY RESOLUTIONS

The Thirteenth Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia resolved to:
a. call the members of the Uniting Church to a week of prayer and fasting for justice for indigenous Australians, culminating in a public prayer vigil at Parliament House in Canberra to be led by the UAICC Chairperson and the President;
b. request UnitingJustice Australia to work with UAICC and UnitingCare Australia to determine the most appropriate date, and to resource and enable members to participate in this action;
c. encourage every presbytery to send at least two representatives to the vigil; and
d. invite other Christian Churches to participate in this activity.

Action taken
A week of prayer and fasting for justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was held in March 2014. The week included a public prayer vigil on the lawns of Parliament House in Canberra on 18 March and individual congregations around the country conducted related services and activities, under the banner ‘A Destiny Together’, during the week.

UnitingJustice took leadership of this activity along with the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress.

4. FUTURE DIRECTIONS

UnitingCare Australia, like the rest of the Uniting Church in Australia, is continually adapting to changing political, social and ecclesiastical contexts. The dynamic context in which UnitingCare Australia operates poses numerous challenges and opportunities as the agency seeks to live out a Christian vision of transformation and reconciliation.

As public debate centres on the financial viability of government-funded social services, UnitingCare Australia will continue to cast a vision of a society in which the common good is upheld and in which all people are cared for. The agency will also play a key role in helping the social services of the Uniting Church to adapt to adjusted funding and operating environments which will likely place significant pressure on many services. This is likely to involve working to strengthen the brand and reputation of UnitingCare; creating avenues for working together across state boundaries; contributing to collective fundraising efforts; and helping agencies collect and maintain useful data and provide clear evidence of their efficacy.

A key element of UnitingCare Australia’s engagement with this shifting context will be helping the Uniting Church and the social services of the Uniting Church articulate a clear and distinct identity as sovereign agencies that cooperate and collaborate to work towards the common good. Work has begun and will continue on this articulation, including of the theology that the Church’s social services emerge from and the contribution they make to Australian society.

In order to maintain and strengthen the life of UnitingCare, the national office will continue working to build closer ties between the activity of the Uniting Church’s social services and the worshipping life of congregations. The social services of the Uniting Church are inextricably tied to the witness and worship of the church. These two particular expressions of the missio dei (congregational life and social services) offer enormous strength to one another.

UnitingCare Australia will work closely with UnitingWorld to build a deeper and richer engagement with the global Church. The next triennium will involve collaboration with the Protestant Church in China (China Christian Council/Three Self Patriotic Movement), and helping the community services of the Uniting Church in Australia to think more globally about their work and what it means to be the Church.

UnitingCare Australia will continue to work practically with agencies and government to collaborate on new solutions for intractable social challenges. For example, in 2015-16 UnitingCare Australia will be running a demonstration project with the government, employing female lone-parents who are reentering the workforce. Thought leadership will also be provided on a range of policy matters such as:
• welfare reform;
• the quality and accessibility of early childhood education and care;
• the independence of charities and their right to advocate;
• tax arrangements for charities and not-for-profits; and
• future funding of aged care.

UnitingCare Australia aims to lead a strong, unified, compassionate and creative national network to influence for better quality of life outcomes for this most disadvantaged and deliver social services that make a positive difference. As we speak with one voice nationally, our capacity to influence and interface with government, business and the wider Australian community to ensure that more Australians have the means and opportunity for a decent life, is enhanced. UnitingCare Australia will continue to adopt a strongly ecumenical approach and will continue to deepen partnerships. In doing so, UnitingCare Australia will give expression to God’s love as part of the Uniting Church in Australia.

5. AGENCY CONTACTS

Postal address: PO Box 5218 Braddon ACT 2612

Phone: (02) 6249 6717
Fax: (02) 6249 8715
Email: mail@unitingcare.org.au
Website: www.unitingcare.org.au

National Director: Lin Hatfield Dodds
EA to the National Director: Ellie Trapani

Director, Services Development: Ian Holland
Director, Services Sustainability: Joe Zabar
Director, Operations and Projects: Kelly Bruce

Manager, Communications & Public Affairs: Annette Pereira
Senior Policy Analyst: Tanya von Ahlefeldt
Policy Analyst: Nina MacKenzie
Energy Affordability Consultant: Karen Wright
Communications Project Officer: Lachlan Macleod

Lin Hatfield Dodds
National Director

Peter Bicknell
Chair

APPENDIX A UNITINGCARE AUSTRALIA MANDATE

Agency/Committee UnitingCare Australia

Responsible To Assembly

Reporting Arrangements To Assembly Standing Committee and the Assembly

Mission Statement

UnitingCare Australia’s Mission is to express God’s love for all people through the Uniting Church’s commitment to supporting individuals, families and communities through advocacy and the enhancement of community service provision.

Mandate

Guiding principles and values

Key Responsibilities

• To take up community service issues within the theological framework of the Uniting Church, particularly the Church’s social justice perspectives.
• To develop and reflect on the policies and practices of the Uniting Church in community services.
• To pursue appropriate issues within the Uniting Church, with Government and the community sector, with the Australian community and with other parts of the church.

Jesus’ ministry challenges us to give more serious attention to the nature of service to one another. Engaging with the world through community services provides the opportunity to live out a Christian vision which is inclusive, all encompassing and which looks for equality of opportunity for individuals, communities and peoples. UnitingCare Australia will bring to all aspects of its work and ministry the theological framework that God’s love is extended to all people, with no discrimination on the grounds of age, gender, sexuality, ability, class colour, creed or cultural origin.

UnitingCare Australia will work co-operatively and ecumenically, giving expression to the unity of God’s love for the world, and the church as a loving agency.

UnitingCare Australia will constantly seek to develop national best practice supporting and giving focus to its work in the areas of policy and practical outcomes.

Therefore, acting within guidelines set by the Assembly or the Assembly Standing Committee, and grounded in the experience of UnitingCare service providers, UnitingCare Australia will:

1. Encourage theological reflection on the Church’s community services work.
2. Advocate to Government and within the Church and community those policies and practices which enhance the dignity of people, especially those who are most disadvantaged and marginalised.
3. Enable exchange of information across Synods and Uniting Church service providers.
4. Seek to enhance the quality of community service provision by the Uniting Church.
5. Represent the views of Uniting Church service providers to governments.
6. Work as appropriate with other churches and peak organisations in the community services field.
7. Act on requests and referrals from Synods and the Assembly.

• The responsibilities include:
1. Focusing the activities of the agency on the vision of the Assembly as a whole.
2. Advising the Assembly and/or the Assembly Standing Committee on policy matters within their areas of responsibility.
3. Making policy decisions where the Assembly or the Assembly Standing Committee has delegated authority, either through UnitingCare Australia’s Mandate or by resolution.

Relation with other agencies
UnitingCare Australia will maintain regular contact with other Assembly bodies, to ensure coordination of the Church’s actions and advocacy in community service matters.

Power to delegate
UnitingCare Australia has the power to delegate responsibilities.

Organisational Structure
UnitingCare Australia will operate through the National Committee, its Executive, the National Office, and Advisory Committees as determined by the National Committee and the UnitingCare network.

National Committee

Role and Responsibilities

Membership

Frequency of Meetings
The National Committee is the key governance body of UnitingCare Australia and is appointed by the Assembly Standing Committee.

The role and responsibilities of the National Committee as delegated by the Assembly are to:
• develop and ensure the implementation of the strategic plan for UnitingCare Australia
• discern and determine key priorities
• give oversight to the work of UnitingCare Australia, including the National Office and Advisory Committees

It comprises:
• the Chairperson, elected by the Assembly
• the National Director of UnitingCare Australia
• the Assembly General Secretary or nominee
• the Director of UnitingCare in each Synod
• the Chair of each UnitingCare Australia Advisory Committee, appointed by the Assembly Standing Committee on the nomination of the National Committee
• National Director of Frontier Services or nominee
• one (1) additional person from each Synod appointed by the Assembly Standing Committee from nominations provided by the Synods, based on their expertise in relation to UnitingCare Australia’s strategic directions.
In addition, the National Committee has the option to co-opt up to two (2) additional members.

Tenure of membership is for the Assembly triennium.

The National Committee will meet face to face at least twice each year.

Executive Role

Membership

The Executive of the National Committee shall be appointed by the National Committee and is empowered to act on its behalf between meetings of the National Committee in respect of any of the responsibilities of the National Committee except such as the National Committee may determine.

The Executive comprises:
• the Chair of the National Committee
• the National Director of UnitingCare Australia
• the Assembly Associate General Secretary
• the Director of UnitingCare from one Synod
• two (2) other members of the National committee

National Office Accountability

The National Office is the national staff team body of UnitingCare Australia.

Its role is to:
• provide strategic leadership in the operations of UnitingCare Australia
• to provide a range of executive, administrative and management services to the National Committee and Advisory Committees
• to implement decisions made by the National Committee

The National Office comprises
• The National Director of UnitingCare Australia, appointed by the Assembly
• Such other staff as determined by the National Director to be necessary or appropriate to further the work of UnitingCare Australia
To the National Committee in respect of the responsibilities delegated to the National Committee by the Assembly.
To the Assembly and General Secretary in all other matters.

Advisory Committees

Membership The National Committee may establish such working groups and Advisory Committees as required and appoint such persons as it considers appropriate in relation to one or more areas of its work.

The role of the Advisory Committees is to
• develop, review and reflect upon the policies and practices of the Uniting Church in its community services ministry with people
• contribute to the advocacy of UnitingCare Australia; and
• assist the National Committee in the development of national positions within the area of responsibility of that Advisory Committee
The membership of each Advisory Committee shall be determined by the National Committee.
Tenure of membership is for the Assembly triennium.

Nature of Agency Permanent

ORIGINAL APPROVED BY COMMUNITY SERVICES AUSTRALIA NOVEMBER 1992

Submitted to and approved by the Assembly Standing Committee September 1993

Amended and approved by UnitingCare Australia
March 2000

Approved by Ninth Assembly July 2000

Amended and approved by UnitingCare Australia
February 2005

Submitted and approved by the Assembly Standing Committee March 2005

APPENDIX B

STRATEGIC DIRECTIONS 2012-2015

Our mission and mandate is to:
• Encourage theological reflection on the Church’s community services work.
• Advocate to Government and within the Church and community those policies and practices which enhance the dignity of people, especially those who are most disadvantaged and marginalised.
• Enable exchange of information across Synods and Uniting Church service providers.
• Seek to enhance the quality of community service provision by the Uniting Church.
• Represent the views of Uniting Church service providers to governments.
• Work as appropriate with other churches and peak organisations in the community services field.
• Act on requests and referrals from Synods and the Assembly.

We will achieve our mission and mandate by:
• Influencing national decision-making and priorities about community services and policies and programs that impact on the lives and opportunities of disadvantaged and vulnerable people and communities in Australia
• Articulating and communicating why and how we do our work, and how our work gives expression to the Uniting Church’s commitment to supporting individuals, families and communities
• Maintaining and further enhancing formal communication across the network and engagement of UnitingCare leaders in our work
• Building relationships and a culture of trust and collegiality across the network and wider church
• Building relationships and partnerships with organisations of goodwill with shared advocacy priorities and values
• Building citizen engagement on social and economic policy issues

We will develop relationships, policies and positions in order to:
• Speak out
• Contribute to the development of effective responses to the challenges faced by disadvantaged and vulnerable people and communities
• Affirm and support wider use of existing effective approaches; and
• Shape social and economic reform agendas and influence decision-makers

These policies and positions will draw on the knowledge and experience of the UnitingCare network and the communities in which they work, and be developed where appropriate through partnerships in the Uniting Church and with other organisations with shared priorities and values.

We will focus our advocacy work in the following areas:
Social Services Sustainability:
• Funding adequacy
• Government and not for profit interface systems and processes
• Taxation
• Regulation
• Workforce
• Government and not for profit relationship

Social Services Development:
• Ageing and aged care
• Children, young people and families with a focus on vulnerable families, promoting early intervention and prevention
• Costs of living for low income and vulnerable Australians, including:
o energy poverty
o income support justice including inadequacy of payments, compulsory income management, and
o improving financial health and wellbeing
o assessing and responding to the impacts of structural adjustments to the economy on the capacity of people and communities to access the means and opportunity for a decent life
• Employment and employment support services
• Affordable housing and homelessness
• Disability services reform, including the National Disability Insurance Scheme

APPENDIX C

UNITINGCARE AUSTRALIA GOVERNANCE ARRANGEMENTS

The Assembly is the council with primary responsibility, in consultation with presbyteries and synods, for determining policy in doctrine, worship, government and discipline, and for oversight of the life and mission of the whole Church.

The Assembly has chosen to vest primary responsibilities regarding the mission of the Church in the area of national functions in community services to UnitingCare Australia.

The National Committee

Role
The Assembly has delegated the following governance and functional responsibilities to the National Committee:

The role of the National Committee as delegated by the Assembly is to
• develop and ensure the implementation of strategic directions for UnitingCare Australia;
• discern and determine key priorities; and
• give oversight to the work of UnitingCare Australia, including the National Office, National Networks and Working Groups, and the Network.

UnitingCare Australia has a leadership, rather than a managerial, role with respect to individual agencies and missions. The National Committee plays a key leadership role in ensuring that strong, enabling, transparent and participative processes encourage agencies, missions and Synods to choose to participate in, contribute to and shape the national work.

The National Committee has the responsibility to:
• approve social policy and other positions of UnitingCare Australia;
• assist and advise the National Director on
o the strategic direction for the national work;
o the resourcing, acquisition, and allocation of national work;
o reviewing the outcomes of national work;
o recommending an annual budget to the Assembly’s Standing Committee through it’s National Finance Committee;
o organisational policy and practices; and
o the establishment, membership and operations of national network groups and other working groups as necessary to further the work of UnitingCare Australia; and
• negotiate with the Assembly where there is an interest in varying Assembly workplace policies and act on any delegations of authority to vary such policies for UnitingCare Australia.

Membership and Appointment
The National Committee shall comprise 9 ex-officio members and 5 members appointed by the Assembly through its Standing Committee.

The nine ex-officio members are:
• an Assembly appointed Chair (who shall be a Uniting Church member);
• the General Secretary of Assembly or their nominee;
• the National Director; and
• the Synod Director of UnitingCare or equivalent from each of the six Synods.

The five additional members shall be appointed so that the overall skills mix and composition of the Committee reflects the following experience and competencies:
• strategic thinking across the wide range of the Church’s community services;
• research and evaluation;
• senior executive management experience;
• policy development and advocacy;
• business development; and
• theological reflection.
For the period from the commencement of the current arrangements until the 12th Assembly, at least three of the appointed positions shall be drawn from the former Uniting Missions Network.

Process for Nominations
Nominations for the appointed members shall be proposed to Assembly Standing Committee on the recommendation of a nominating group comprising the Chair, the Assembly General Secretary or their nominee and the National Director.

The provision of these nominations to the Assembly Standing Committee shall follow consultation with the network which shall include a call for expressions of interest.

Nominations for all members – ex-officio and appointed – to the Assembly Standing Committee shall include a brief biography of the nominee, and a statement of the nominee’s potential contribution to the National Committee.

Term of appointment
The Chair shall be appointed by the Assembly every three years at the meeting of the National Assembly.
The appointed members shall be appointed by the Assembly Standing Committee at its first meeting following each meeting of the National Assembly.

Casual Vacancies
In the event of a casual vacancy of an appointed member position on the National Committee, the nominating group comprising the Chair, the Assembly General Secretary or their nominee and the National Director shall present to the Assembly Standing Committee a nomination for the filling of the vacancy. Such nomination shall take into consideration the overall skills mix and composition of the National Committee, and shall include a brief biography of the nominee and a statement of the nominee’s potential contribution to the National Committee.

The term of the newly appointed member shall be until the completion of the original member’s term of appointment.

Development of core organisational policies
To support its work and operations, the National Committee will develop a set of policies and procedures including
• a code of conduct
• a statement of performance and accountability
• a guide to meeting processes
• a policy on the development of national positions
• a policy on the endorsement of national activity

Accountability
UnitingCare Australia is accountable to the Assembly. This includes through reports to the Assembly General Secretary, Assembly Standing Committee and the Assembly.

Roles within the National Committee
Role of the Chair
The Chair has primary responsibility for providing leadership with regard to the operation of the National Committee. This includes:
• chairing meetings;
• overseeing and approving agendas for meetings;
• liaising between the National Committee, sub-committees of the National Committee, the National Office or National Networks and Working Groups where appropriate;
• acting on behalf of the National Committee in urgent or emergency situations; and
• liaising with the Assembly and where appropriate representing the Agency to the Assembly or Assembly Standing Committee.

Secretariat function
Secretariat support is provided to the National Committee by the National Office.
National Committee Executive
Role
The Executive of the National Committee is empowered to act on behalf of the National Committee between meetings of the National Committee in respect of any of the responsibilities of the National Committee except such as the National Committee may determine.

In addition to its standing role, the Executive will ensure that the financial operations of UnitingCare Australia are running appropriately. This includes:
• monitoring the budget and providing advice to the National Committee on income, expenditure and cash flow;
• presenting to a meeting of the National Committee information to enable timely input to the National Audit and Finance Committee of the Assembly regarding the annual UnitingCare budget for the following financial year (noting that this is currently required by mid September each year); and
• considering the draft budget from the Assembly’s National Audit and Finance Committee to enable timely input into the Assembly Standing Committee determination of the UnitingCare Australia budget for the following financial year (noting that this is currently by the end of October each year).

Membership
The Executive comprises:
• the Chair of the National Committee
• the National Director
• the Assembly Associate General Secretary or their nominee
• two (2) other members of the National Committee, one of whom shall not be in an ex-officio position, as appointed annually by the National Committee

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