A letter from our Chairman, The Hon Dr David Hamill AM, as delivered at the Act for Kids Annual General Meeting on October 15th 2018.
“It was twelve months ago when I was approached and asked whether I would be interested in having my name submitted as a candidate for the Chair of Act for Kids.
While I was broadly aware of the organisation and what it did, like any diligent director, I made sure to do my homework. What I discovered an organisation that was widely respected in the community and highly regarded by those who had worked with the team. I considered it to be a great privilege to be a part of such a wonderful organisation.
This past financial year Act for Kids delivered support and therapy services to over 40,000 kids and families across Australia. This was a 17% increase on the prior year and it is an achievement of which we are immensely proud.
We have continued to focus on what we do best… putting young lives back together. Overall, in 2017-18, we worked with more than 27,000 kids, almost 3,000 children more than last year.
Our Integrated Therapy Program model continues to be a unique and highly sought-after service for children who have suffered from abuse or neglect. In the past financial year, we worked with 3,165 kids through our Integrated Therapy Program, an increase of 60% on the year before.
We continue to emphasise the importance of early intervention through our Family and Child Connect Services and our Intensive Family Support. In these programs we work with children and families at risk of entering the child protection system by helping them to address the issues they are facing and build a healthy and functioning family unit. Last year we provided family support through our Early Intervention Programs to almost 26,000 kids and families.
The footprint of Act for Kids continues to grow. After recently opening centres in Rockhampton, Coomera and Melbourne, we now deliver services out of 26 centres nationally with a team of over 380 staff. Act for Kids’ achievements are built on three pillars – each providing support to the others.
The first is our team, our CEO, the executive team, those in corporate services and all of the dedicated staff who work on the frontline to support kids and families. Recently, I had the privilege of travelling to a number of Act for Kids centres to join in their celebration of our 30th Anniversary. Apart from the ubiquitous birthday cake, there was the consistent theme of dedication and commitment in each and every centre.
Our staff never lose sight of our end goal – keeping our kids safe. I am humbled to work with such incredible people who strive every day to see just one more child and help just one more family.
Our second pillar is our governance. Our board members give freely of their time, and their expertise to support what is now a large and complex organisation. In this context, I would also like to acknowledge those non-board members who serve on our Board Committees: Simon Neil, Malcolm Middleton, Dr David Wood and Dr Stephen Stathis. Both David and Stephen also sit on our Youthrive Board alongside John Eales and Tracey Gray. Thank you for your service. We are incredibly appreciative of your generosity and counsel as we grow our organisation.
At this point, I would also like to thank Leilani Pearce, who has recently retired after three years of service as a board member and as a member of our First Nations Working Group. Thank you, Leilani.
Our third pillar is of course, our donors. Every single donor, large or small, every lottery ticket buyer, every Kids Crusader, every corporate partner and philanthropist who supports us… helps us to help more kids. We could not do all that we do without your support.
While annual meetings tend to focus on what has been achieved, I think it is equally important to focus upon where we are going. As an organisation, we are strong, and we are motivated. We are building up momentum with therapy centres now operating in Sydney, Adelaide and Melbourne. We know that the need for child protection does not stop at the Queensland border. Our strategic vision is to grow an organisation that is financially sustainable so that we can continue to support children and families into the future.
Our social enterprise, Youthrive is a part of that strategy for sustainability. Not only does it expand access to Integrated Therapy, its profits will support other Act for Kids programs. We are currently exploring the establishment of an endowment fund to ensure that we can honour the wishes of those who have provided bequests or who have made donations with a view to providing long-term support for our services. This will ensure that the generosity of our supporters can continue to improve the lives of children now and into the future.
In closing, thank you for being with us tonight. Thank you for your contribution to our journey, thank you for your giving your time and thank you for supporting Act for Kids.”