Communities@Work is proud to present our 2019/20 Annual Report.
The report captures the extraordinary year it has been. The start was focussed on our plans for continuing and expanding our services and was followed by the need for rapid response and flexibility as the bushfires, then COVID-19 created some of the biggest challenges faced by the community for a long time.
We invite you to join us on our journey of reflecting on the year that has been, on celebrating the wins and appreciating the hard work of everyone in the organisation and the broader community who pulled together through 2019-20.
READ OUR ANNUAL REPORT IN THE WINDOW BELOW. You can also click on the menu in the top-right of the window for full-screen mode, table of contents & other options.
WATCH: Communities@Work CEO Lee Maiden launches our Annual Report 2019-20.
Highlights from our Annual Report 2019-20
⦿ We worked alongside the ACT Education Directorate and partnered schools to provide 15 hours a week of free access to early education and care for three-year-old children at five locations. Head to page 20 for more!
⦿ We embraced inclusion and diversity and developed embedded inclusion and cultural safety for children through several initiatives such as the multicultural Harmony Day, Chinese New year, Japan’s Sea Day, NAIDOC Week, and Auslan and Braille communication. See page 22 for more!
⦿ We provided a mental health safe haven to children with a soft toy mascot (Beatrice the BeeYou Bee), a tool that allowed educators to effectively speak with families and to allow children to talk about mental health and their emotions. Check out page 24 for more!
⦿ We continued to excel in our service quality and lead in education practices: we were very proud of Melita Pendergast (centre manager for our Abacus and Capital Hill early education and care services) for winning the 2019 “Director of the Year” title at the ACT Pedagogical Leadership Network’s Education and Care Awards. See page 26 for more!
Professional Training and Qualifications
⦿ Our Registered Training Organisation (RTO) – The Centre of Professional Learning and Education (CPLE) – provided 47 Ascend Program trainees with a unique pathway to a rewarding career in early childhood education and care, blending theoretical knowledge with practical paid experience.
⦿ We won Large Employer of the Year at the 2020 ACT Training Awards for the second year in a row!
⦿ Our Tuggeranong and Gungahlin community pantries provide food, household and personal care items to individuals and families who are experiencing hardship. We temporarily suspended our normal pantry operations to become a collection point for the ACT Government’s free Canberra Relief Network Hampers. Find out more on page 34 of the Annual Report.
⦿ As a community partner of the Social Recovery Network, we proudly worked alongside community organisation such as Vinnies, Red Cross, Salvos, Anglicare and the ACT Government, to provide vital community services at the Canberra Bushfire Recovery Centres in Dickson and Erindale to people fleeing the firs and smoke. See more on page 36.
⦿ Our Reach Home program supported a single mother with four children, who were evicted from their home due to her inability to pay rent. Read her story on how we helped her on page 37!
⦿ Our independent high school designed specifically for disengaged and vulnerable young people in Years 7-10 who have yet to succeed in mainstream schooling, saw its highest-ever student enrolment, celebrated its 20th anniversary and initiated plans for expansion to a Senior Secondary College for Years 11 and 12. Read all of Galilee School’s Highlights on page 40 of the Annual Report!
Disability and Senior Services
⦿ We were very proud of our Disability Program client Jarrad who got his ACT driver’s license and gain more independence after 12 months of hard work, and support from our Life Skill Educator Esmee and the team. See page 44 to read his story!
⦿ We successfully re-designed and developed our Seniors Programs to ensure our clients stayed socially connected with each other and our team to meet the COVID-19 challenge, through weekly social support calls, monthly newsletters, virtual social catchups and group activities through Zoom, home visits to deliver garden produce, DVDs and more. See more on page 45!
⦿ Our Transport team helped clients with shopping trips during COVID-19 to buy essential items and delivered essential food hampers to vulnerable clients, while our Support Coordination team enabled clients to navigate and implement their NDIS plan and linked them to services that supported them to remain independent in their own home. Find out more on pages 45-46.
⦿ Our Community Development program brought people together and encouraged them to make long-term meaningful connections within their communities through several initiatives such as the SouthFest 2019 (in partnership with the local Tuggeranong Community), Community Morning Teas, Homelessness Art Exhibition, and Healthy Cooking Classes. Find out more on page 50 of the Annual Report!
“Looking forward, there will be continuing hardship for some of the Canberra community in the months ahead. We will continue to support those in need in as many ways as possible. For example, we have frozen our fees for children’s services, for the time being, reflecting the uncertain incomes of some parents.
All that has been achieved this year would not be possible without the many people who contribute to our work, not the least of all Communities@Work’s amazing employees, led by our CEO Lee Maiden. And we have some wonderful volunteers, without whom we wouldn’t be able to do all that we do.
Whatever further surprises the future holds, I can assure you that Communities@Work will continue to respond to the changing needs of the community now and into 2021.
– Alan Greenslade, Board Chair (Extract)
Communities@Work reported a surplus from ordinary operations in conjunction with COVID-19 Government stimulus packages. In response to our Strategic Plan 2019-2022, the surpluses will be committed to capital projects including the Galilee School expansion, the improvement of many of our children’s services, and the enhancement of our community centre spaces.
The company has reported a surplus of $2,300,991 (2019: $2,455,896).
As we look to the future, perhaps never has the purpose and mission of Communities@Work been more important. The impact of COVID-19 is substantial and will be felt for many months and years, exacerbating current issues, and producing new and different challenges for our community to meet.
We are now focusing on investing in our social infrastructure, which is vital for both the health of the economy and the wellbeing of our community; and we are committed to continue working closely with our local community, government, and the business community to ensure we deliver great outcomes for the ACT and Capital Region.
Here are just some of the key initiatives we are investing in for 2021:
⦿ As the winner of the ACT Large Employer of the Year at the ACT Training Awards for two years in a row (2019 and 2020), Communities@Work has a strong and ongoing commitment to developing high quality educators in the early childhood education and care sector. In 2021, we will be expanding our industry-leading childcare traineeship, the Ascend Program, which provides a unique pathway to a rewarding career in early childhood education and care.
⦿ We anticipate demand for our support services will increase over the next year. We are expanding our community food pantries and associated support services in Gungahlin and Tuggeranong.
⦿ We are upgrading and expanding our Galilee School Campus and launching our Senior Secondary College for Year 11 students, expanding to Year 12 in 2022, providing ongoing education and support for young people who have disengaged from mainstream schooling.
⦿ We are upgrading our facilities and expanding our service offering in our disability programs in our northern and southern hubs.
⦿ Our Community Development team are launching a new outreach and connection program to enable and empower residents to build community capacity and resilience.
“As I reflect on the past twelve months, I know we have managed to navigate our way through these difficult times because of the extraordinary people I have around me. I would like to thank the Board who have given an incredible amount of support and commitment during these unprecedented times, my Executive team who have managed their programs in probably the toughest times of their careers and to all of Communities@ Work staff and volunteers for being there for the Canberra community. We all look forward to returning to some sort of normal in 2021.”
– Lee Maiden, Communities@Work’s CEO (Extract)