Sue Ash4

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Counting things

I've been reflecting over the past week on things that count - as I write this I have one sleep to go before I have a week of annual leave; my first granddaughter celebrated her first birthday this week and we are enjoying counting her first teeth and her first steps.

Recently we’ve participated in the Commonwealth election and marvelled that we live in a democracy where there can be such a smooth transition of government following the final count for the election of the Members of the Australian parliament. And now comes the work of understanding how the new Australian government is going to deal with issues that are important to UnitingCare West and the people we serve, support and empower. Refugee policy seems to be pretty clear - it is probable that organisations providing legal support to refugees will have their funding cut. If this happens in Western Australia, our colleague organisation CASE for Refugees will find it increasingly difficult to meet the needs of the broad range of refugees who are already living in the WA community. CARAD (Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees) has also approached UCW to assist with providing access to food and other supports for refugees who are living in the community with no work entitlements.

Other policies that the Australian government appears likely to pursue includes the ongoing roll out of Disability Care - now reverted to its former name of National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). This means that all the work done by the Mental Health and Disability Directorate to re-design UCW's disabilities services will ensure that UCW has a good chance of continuing to be a provider of disability services in the coming years. While this is good news, the new government has been silent on its support for services to those who are homeless. The team at Tranby are counting the increased demand for services at the centre, with numbers regularly more than double the funding that UCW receives from Department of Child Protection. The UCW Family Foundation service will start during the next month and this should assist some of the homeless families needing support, and a combined team of IL&A and MH&D are developing a new response to people living with a disability and who are homeless. UCW will be lobbying hard in the next few months to ensure that all politicians and government agencies are aware of the needs of the growing number of people who are homeless.

Each month the Executive Leadership Team report to me on the work of each Directorate. These reports provide information and statistics on all the work of the organisation. This month I was really taken with a number of stories about the way in which UCW makes a positive difference one person at a time. Let me share just one of those stories. 

Matthew* was a young man who struggled with an alcohol addiction. He lived rough, often on the streets, had limited contact with his family and was often one of more than 100 people who had breakfast at Tranby. Matthew was befriended by a passer-by one day. The passer-by didn't know much about 'homeless services' or the needs of people who were homeless, but he did want to make a positive difference in the life of Matthew.  Together, the passer-by, the staff at Tranby and the clients of Tranby came together to support Matthew through his addiction. Sadly, Matthew died recently. But Robert Watson (Mission Development Leader) was invited by the UCW staff to conduct a memorial service for Matthew. At the service, the people who supported Matthew - his family, the caring stranger, the friends and staff who had supported him through some very tough times - came together to share their sadness but commit to working together to continue to make positive differences in the lives of those most in need, one person at a time. It is this teamwork that enables each and every one of us at UCW to keep doing our jobs and makes the work of our organisation count.

Matthew* Not his real name

Best, Sue