Chris Hazelman OAM, Manager of the Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District Inc., delivered the Annual Report for Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District activities for the year 2020 at teh Annual General Meeting held on 28 September 2020. The report focusses on the response to Covid-19 and the challenges this placed on staff with the delivery of programs and service delivery to those seeking assistance of Community Development officers.
We have had another successful year and our finances are in a very sound position reporting a substantial surplus and a sound grants position which provides security for staff and a solid forward planning position. Our income continues to grow through successful grants applications and the close working relationship with government agencies which has led to direct offers of funding to undertake specific projects. Reputationally our delivery of programs has been enhanced and we have responded well to the newer style funding arrangements involving partnerships and situations where we hold the funds and effectively subcontract activities to other agencies.
In summary our grants position is as follows:
- Settlement Services Program funded through the Federal Department of Home Affairs will continue until end December 2022.
- Regional Strategic Partnership Program funded through the Office of Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship. In February 2018 the Department supplemented the existing funding to create a Strategic Partnership Coordinators position to operate across the Goulburn Region. This funding has been extended as a Covid response until September 2021.
- Social Cohesion Program funded through the Department of Education and will continue until December 2020 although we are confident that a positive outcome will be announced in the upcoming State budget.
- Family Violence Pilot Program was a new state government initiative offered to the Ethnic Council to develop strategies to prevent Domestic Violence in multicultural communities. This program is for two years until September 2020 however the core program will continue until December 2020 and a Covid initiative will provide funding until December 2021.
- In a direct response to Covid we have been successful in achieving funding under the Working for Victoria Program to employ three people for six months as outreach workers engaging the new arrival communities.
Covid has created a completely different environment in which we operate. In March we moved to a remote operation with the office effectively closed and staff working from home which required a significant change in the delivery of our services. All of our services went online, and we provided software to enable our staff to operate remotely and have capability of accessing their work computers from a remote location. The commitment of staff throughout is acknowledged and working from home has relied on the use of personal equipment.
Significant time and resources have been expended on supporting staff through the pandemic and we meet regularly in a virtual medium to maintain contact and mutual support.
Reopening the office will be a major challenge as it does not meet social distancing standards and we will maintain a mixture of office and working from home for some time as the lockdown situation eases.
Covid has also provided new opportunities and we are now directly involved in forums convened by FECCA and ECCV which gives access to agencies across the sector. One initiative has been the creation of a Multicultural CEOs network and all of these forums have brought the sector closer together and the people we only saw at conferences we now meet with on a regular basis.
The Board continues to focus attention on financial management and at each meeting receives a detailed report containing Profit and Loss, Budget to Actual comparison, Balance Sheet, Cash flow Spreadsheet, Transaction Summary and copies of Bank Statements. This information provides the Board with appropriate data to make decisions and to effectively monitor the operation of individual grant areas and the broader organisation.
All of our staff have contributed enormously to our growth and development and excellent service delivery over the past year. Rhonda, Betul, Thon, Abdullah, Andrew, Sam, Khaluf and Aleena continue to maintain an excellent level of service delivery and effective interrelationship with the service network which reflects very positively on the Ethnic Council and its reputation. As our funding commitments develop, we have engaged Mariam, Mellisa and Ali in part time positions to deliver aspects of the Family Violence and Social Cohesion projects. Through Working for Victoria Sarmed, Jafar and Deng have recently joined our team as a result of a funding bid delivered through a consortium led by Spectrum. In a similar consortium with our counterparts in Bendigo and Ballarat we have sought funding for an ongoing support program to encourage proactive Covid responses in the community.
Our expanding cultural awareness program will continue to be in great demand across the region as is our successful Multicultural Bus Tour program for which we have secured a small amount of ongoing funding from the VMC and will resume post Covid.
Myself and staff are confidently looking forward to another successful year working as a team with Board, members, funders and clients to grow and develop our programs and services. This year’s surplus was due to grants being paid well in advance which indicates that in the Strategic Partnership, Social Cohesion and Domestic Violence programs we will have significantly more activity and expenditure over the coming twelve months supplemented by new programs.
Ethnic Council of Shepparton and District Inc., Regd. No A6321
28 September 2020