This has been an historic year that’s proven we can ‘re-story’ our society and create a new narrative from crisis. It’s an opportunity to change lives and communities for the better, as we committed to in our Strategic Plan for 2020 and beyond.

The move to Uniting WA was a symbolic and visual demonstration of our commitment to ‘Unite’ all of our services, as well as to integrate and partner with other organisations. Our intention is to create a catalyst for positive change, building our identity as a conscious collaborator and an innovative organisation. 

When we developed our Uniting WA Strategic Plan 2020-2023 this year, we built the foundation for achieving our purpose of inspiring people, enlivening communities and confronting injustice. And our Reconciliation Action Plan is woven through everything we do, providing a cultural structure to hold everything together.

We never imagined that within a month of launching our Strategic Plan in March that we’d be enacting our reason for being in such a dramatic way. COVID-19 exposed just how interconnected and interdependent we really are, and the importance of staying true to our purpose.

We all know a global pandemic wasn’t in anyone’s plan for 2020, but with an amazing team and steadfast commitment to serving our community, Uniting remained strong amid the crisis. Also in the year, we had renewal on the Board, including a new Chairperson and some changes in governance, which were well supported by long serving board members and a stable leadership team.

The strength of the Board and our entire Uniting team has helped bring our strategy to life. And we’ve taken solid action on addressing the causes of vulnerability and disadvantage, standing for a just society, and supporting individuals and communities to be valued and connected.

After the initial response to the immediate threat of COVID, we continued to work tirelessly towards recovery. As a governance team, we kept our strategy front-of-mind and moved beyond solving the immediate problems to realising a broader vision. We remained acutely aware that the crisis reset the way we worked and what we needed to do to achieve our goals.

Our Strategic Plan is embedded in the present and scaled over time. We’re committed to 3 interconnected focus areas:

Building solid foundations

Getting the basics right – budgets, systems, people, and resources. We radically built capacity during the crisis and had the opportunity to reset – continuing what worked well and modifying where needed. We restructured our Board sub-committees and introduced 3 new committees – Service Quality and Safeguarding, Governance and Risk, and Finance Property and Assets. Thank you to the respective Chairs for your leadership in these areas.

Nurturing and growing

Using models that are innovative and extending what we do to further the impact of our work. An example was the Hotels with Heart pilot, which tested a model of protecting some of the most at-risk people sleeping rough on our streets from contracting COVID. We were pleased to work alongside the Department of Communities, a UWA Professor of Global Health, Homeless Healthcare, and Ruah Community Services to provide emergency accommodation to people during the lockdown period. 

Realising and scaling

Through the pandemic we worked with the sector and government to achieve systemic change, create new opportunities and nimbly respond to the changing environment. We reinforced a culture of collaboration, which is a key element of our Uniting brand.

This year of challenges underlined our commitment to diversifying our income and attracting more philanthropic support. We could not have achieved the level of success in supporting people through this crisis without the generous support of individuals and corporate supporters. We also made a significant decision to fund some services beyond contracted funding, helping us to maintain and extend our social impact at a critical time for our community.

Our aspirations continue to grow. We believe that we have greater opportunities to connect and partner with other organisations, and in different ways. This year we have been proud to continue to build meaningful partnerships with several Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations. Notably, it was an honour to work alongside the leadership of Kinship Connections and Noongar Mia Mia.

With its strong foundational legacy and ongoing connection to our services, we continue to build and foster the relationships with the Uniting Church and schools, as well as our fellow agencies to leverage the best outcomes for the people we serve. 

For Uniting, our top 3 priorities are:

Building a strong team

Our people make a significant contribution to community, and we will continue to ensure that all of our team flourish and thrive.

Financial sustainability

To maintain and grow our reach and impact we must ensure we have adequate capital, be responsible stewards of our assets, and develop new revenue options.

Deliver our Strategic Plan

Our strategy is our blueprint for a strong future. 

We’re now looking to build on our strengths and capitalise on the lessons we’ve learnt from a challenging year. And as a community, we’re expecting to be further challenged through increased financial hardship as well as impacts on health and wellbeing. 

Our recovery will entail thinking about the kind of capability, resilience and reserve we need to have in place to tackle the issues exacerbated by the crisis. In particular, this includes domestic violence, mental health and the use of alcohol and other drugs.

This was a year that ‘called out’ community and demonstrated our compassion. The pandemic made us vividly aware of how vulnerable we all are.

We thank our incredible team, including our volunteers and supporters, who remained resilient and dedicated to our mission throughout this time. Now, more than ever, we at Uniting have the opportunity to bring to life our values in what we do every day… daring to dream into a better future.

We are proud to present the Uniting WA 2019-2020 Annual Report, which shows our progress and achievements across the domains of our Strategic Plan 2020-2023.

Erica Haddon, Chairperson

Amanda Hunt, Chief Executive Officer