Focusing on equality: In our work and across our organisation
Annual Report 2022-23
Dr Andrew Bickerdike
Chief Executive Officer
I want to take a moment to reflect on the profound impact that relationships and connections can have on our lives. Over the past three years, the world has faced unprecedented challenges. Despite restrictions and lockdowns, it was our relationships and a sense of community that helped Victorians, and indeed people around the world, to navigate such difficult times.
Throughout this time, when Victorians needed support – whether with their relationships with their partners, family, friends or themselves, or with issues affecting these relationships, we were there to help. I am proud to be able to say that throughout the pandemic, across all 3 years, we kept our services accessible every single day. We did so because we know that when people reach out for help, especially in their times of greatest need, the right support can make a meaningful, long-term difference.
Today, we finally find ourselves in a post-pandemic world that has gradually regained a sense of normalcy. It coincides with RAV’s approaching 75th anniversary later in 2023. Three-quarters of a century is an extraordinarily long time for any business or organisation to exist, but it is particularly remarkable when you consider our modest beginnings and original purpose to help couples and families stay together. Our history also serves as a foundation for our future and our new Strategic Plan that will be launched in the coming months.
We have come a long way from being providers of primarily couples’ counselling, and we now provide a remarkably diverse suite of services for individuals, couples, families, schools and communities (see page 9 of the report). In addition to tertiary services, we deliver prevention and early intervention responses, because we know that these approaches can significantly alter the course of peoples’ lives for the better.
We actively seek opportunities to share our knowledge and experience. In the past year, we have made valuable submissions to both the National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality and the Australian Government’s Early Years Strategy (see page 29). Additionally, we have participated in roundtable consultations on Early Years and Child Mental Health in Victoria.
In our submission on gender equality, we emphasised the need to address individual and societal attitudes towards gender inequality and violence against women, along with the institutional and structural inequalities that perpetuate gender inequality. Equality is one of our core values at RAV, and this year’s report showcases some of the ways we have embedded this value into our services and workforce culture.
Our dedicated staff are the heart of our organisation, and they live our values every day. I would like to echo the sentiments of our Board President, Professor Lyn Littlefield OAM, in thanking all staff for their hard work and commitment. I also wish to acknowledge our Board members for their exceptional leadership, and offer my thanks to Professor Littlefield for her wise counsel and continued support.
As I look back on the 2022–23 financial year, I will highlight some of our most significant achievements and outcomes:
- Our income surpassed $40 million for the first time, reflecting our significant growth over the past 3 years.
- Both the Australian and Victorian governments provided appropriate indexation and supplementation on our funding grants, which we are grateful for, as it enables us to manage the increasing costs of operating and to pass on salary increases to our staff who, like much of the community, are encountering cost of living challenges.
- We received funding extensions for a number of programs in Gippsland, including our headspace sites, Connect Me program and our Frontline Emergency Distress and Trauma Counselling service.
- Our investment in dedicated research, evaluation and social impact teams enhanced our ability to demonstrate the evidence base of our services, incorporate lived experiences into service design, improve practices and innovate new services. Our inaugural Social Impact Report will be launched in late 2023.
- In recognition of the fact that family law proceedings can be incredibly stressful, and that family violence often intersects with other challenges, we commenced a new mental health support service as part of Victoria Legal Aid’s Family Advocacy and Support Services.
- We introduced trauma-informed family violence counselling to provide a holistic service response tailored to the needs of our clients, including Family Safety Contact service clients.
- We embarked on two new partnership projects aimed at promoting gender equality and preventing family violence, through collaboration with sporting clubs.
Our new initiatives reflect our adaptability and commitment to meeting the needs of our clients and society – even as those needs change and develop. You can find more detailed information about our new and existing services in our annual report.
In the year ahead, we will remain focused on ensuring that our clients feel heard, supported and empowered. We will work to support clients to be better equipped to navigate life’s challenges and to have positive, respectful, safe and fulfilling relationships. We strongly believe that such relationships are key to health and wellbeing, and they are a right that everyone deserves, equally.
I invite you to read more about the financial year just passed in our Annual Report 2022–23, which you can download below.
Thank you for your continued support.