Recognising resilience in 2021-22
Annual report 2021-2022
Dr Andrew Bickerdike
Chief Executive Officer
We have managed to navigate another challenging year, and our organisation has stepped up to the challenges brilliantly. Effective services continued, staff and client safety was prioritised, and we weathered financial challenges, which unfortunately proved to be insurmountable for others.
We maintained our commitment to supporting clients even when COVID-19 impacted their ability to contribute to service costs, which significantly reduced our fee income. At the same time, we needed to ensure that RAV remained accessible to meet the ongoing strong demand, and we continued to invest in technology and communication to facilitate effective remote service delivery.
Our funders provided very positive feedback to us, acknowledging how well we had done to keep services operational and remain client-focused during our extended lockdowns.
We entered a complicated phase of the pandemic during the year, in which we needed to make decisions about when to return to the office and resume face-to-face services. While we have been able to provide high-quality and effective services remotely throughout COVID-19, we know that some clients prefer face-to-face services and, in some instances, face-to-face services are more appropriate. As such, we began a gradual transition back to our workplaces, while balancing safety, our obligations and responsibilities, and the needs of our clients and staff.
It is easy to continue to be swept up in COVID-19 and its impacts, however, this year was a successful one for many more reasons than our ability to navigate the pandemic. It’s impossible to detail all this year’s achievements, but I would like to highlight just a few.
We successfully tendered to provide mental health support to Family Advocacy and Support Services clients at all Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia circuit locations, to promote survivor/victim safety and increase perpetrator accountability.
We received funding from the Australian Government to work with those accessing the National Redress Scheme in a trauma-informed way.
For the 10th year, we provided our AccessResolve property mediation and conciliation service to court-ordered clients on behalf of the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia, and were re-contracted for a further 3 years.
We finalised a new Staff Enterprise Agreement, which enhances RAV’s position as an employer of choice by providing staff with additional work-related conditions and benefits.
We proudly launched 2 new, contemporary and accessible websites, for RAV clients generally and for our Open Place support service for Forgotten Australians, respectively.
We also implemented a range of new programs, including
- You Are Not Alone, a family violence support group for women
- Connect Me, a children’s mental health counselling and case management service in Gippsland
- Diffuse, a pilot of a 6-week healthy and respectful relationships program for men in correctional facilities.
The diversity of these programs is indicative of the breadth of services RAV provides, in order to meet the complex needs of our clients and the community.
With our current Strategic Plan ending next year, it is now time for us to review, re-assess and plan for the years ahead. We have begun this process already, with a planning day this year resulting in a list of priority focus areas, which our Board President, Professor Lyn Littlefield OAM, has already highlighted.
RAV has a long history of electing to undertake meaningful and impactful research and evaluation activities. As part of our increased focus on evidence-based services, we have now established a separate evaluation and social impact division for our organisation, and have recruited a dedicated Manager of Evaluation and Social Impact.
This position will be responsible for driving the collaborative design, development and implementation of RAV’s fit-for-purpose outcome measurements and evaluations, which incorporate the client voice. The team will seek to further build the evidence base for our services and undertake relevant research to guide practice improvements and developments both at RAV and within our sector more broadly.
During the year, we also appointed Amanda Goldstein as our General Manager Clinical Services. Amanda has extensive experience as a clinician and practice leader, and expertise in clinical leadership, policy development, and the governance and development of clinical models of practice.
After over 2 years of living with COVID-19, many of us have felt weary this year, and experienced what has been called ‘pandemic fatigue’. It is sheer determination and commitment that have enabled us to achieve what we have. I thank our staff, one and all, for their dedication. I have said it to them directly, but I think it is worth repeating - in times like these, you learn who is standing next to you and I am immensely proud of what I have learnt about those who are working with RAV. Despite many obstacles and disruptions, your focus on supporting your clients has been unwavering.
So too, our Board members have demonstrated determination in driving RAV’s success and strategy, and I am grateful for their support, direction and advice. Professor Littlefield OAM also continues to provide me with valued counsel, and I’d like to thank her for sharing her extensive knowledge and experience to benefit RAV and our clients.
I’d also like to acknowledge our clients’ understanding and resilience, as we have collectively navigated changes in services while prioritising their health and safety, and that of our staff and the broader community.
The future of the pandemic and its impact on our personal and professional lives is unclear. COVID-19 continues to impact us in Victoria and as I write this, we are experiencing increased infections. I am confident, however, that we have the right people – staff, management and Board – to manage any challenges that may arise so that RAV can continue to thrive and grow, and do what it does best – provide support to those who need it.