As I reflect on the past year in the life of Wesley Mission Queensland I stand in awe of the history and heritage of this organisation and all of the people who have contributed to its purpose since its formation in 1907! As part of the Uniting Church our purpose is to participate in the mission of God – towards reconciliation, transformation, justice and hope for all people.
This year is 40 years since the formation of the Uniting Church and also marks the 40th anniversary since the opening of our Sinnamon Village community in Brisbane’s west. In the Statement to the Nation made by the Uniting Church in 1977 at the time when three Christian Churches came together into one Uniting Church, these words were spoken: “We pledge ourselves to seek the correction of injustices wherever they occur. We will work for the eradication of poverty and racism within our society and beyond. We affirm the rights of all people to equal educational opportunities, adequate health care, freedom of speech, employment or dignity in unemployment if work is not available. We will oppose all forms of discrimination which infringe basic rights and freedoms”.
These words and the Wesley Mission Queensland purpose are bold and courageous and this is as it should be. We must always seek to be innovative and proactive in recognising and responding with care and compassion to the injustices within the Australian community. This means that we must be agile as an organisation as we position for growth, change and innovation in anticipation and response to an ever-changing pace of: community and personal need; government reform agenda; government funding restrictions and also competition and consolidation in the aged care and community services sector.
Over the last year and into the next two years our residential aged care government funding will be reduced by more than $5 million per annum. In spite of this reduction there is an increased focus on government regulation and audit. At a time when our community is looking forward to the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) it is an injustice that the government funding for an older person with high-care needs living in an aged care home is less than half of the government funding for a middle aged person with similar high-care needs funded through the NDIS. This funding reality is our biggest organisational challenge for the future at a time when our population is ageing.
In spite of these challenges we continue to invest in building supportive and integrated communities for older Australians and seeking new opportunities to provide community and disability services for people in need as we always have done.
My thanks and admiration go to our staff and volunteers who are the heart, the soul and the face of the organisation and allow us to support more than 100,000 people in need each year.
Geoff Batkin, Chief Executive Officer