WCC Annual Report - Page 12

From the President and CEO Whittlesea Community Connections this year turned 40 years old. The last 40 years have been truly remarkable. A small unfunded organisation was created in 1973 by a group of Whittlesea residents and community activists concerned with the lack of help available in the area for those in need. At that time the population of the Whittlesea LGA would have been approximately 30,000 people and most of the area would have been farming or rural. The Whittlesea CAB was created and without any funding or paid employees it set-about the task of informing and empowering the community. This was truly a volunteer effort in every sense of the word and those pioneer residents of this municipality have a great deal to be proud of. Their commitment, community spirit and sheer determination have been an inspiration throughout the 40 years since. 40 years on and the population of Whittlesea is estimated to be almost 170,000 and still growing rapidly. WCC now has funding from all 3 levels of government and employs over 23 paid staff as well as a large group of casual workers. But its commitment to volunteering and community engagement is as strong today as it ever was. More than 230 volunteers regularly contribute to the work of the agency and we are respected as leaders in the field of volunteering and community engagement in our area and beyond. The current group of people involved in the agency and where it is today should also be proud of their achievements and their contribution to the WCC legacy. With that in mind, we would like to give recognition to our entire staff team, who are all highly dedicated to our overall vision of supporting and connecting Whittlesea residents with the resources and services they need and deserve. But a staff team is only one part of an important equation. The support and encouragement of an equally dedicated group of local people managing the organisation at a board level is also vital. Our thanks go to all board members for their unfailing support of the agency, its work and place within the community. None of the work we do would be possible without the contribution of all these people – volunteers, staff and board members. To our staff, clients, families, communities and partners, thank you for your dedication, and support not only over the last 12 months but over the past 40 years. Staffing Changes During the year staff movements meant we farewelled Jennifer Oliver our Outreach Lawyer who relocated to Gippsland with her young family and Sulaika Dhanapala our Principal Solicitor who is now focusing on her private legal practice. Additions to our team include Kate O’Sullivan who joined us as our Settlement Services Team leader; Chris Howse who has taken over from Sulaika as our Principal Solicitor and Ben Rodgers who comes on board as our Acting Team Leader for Client Services whilst Peta Fualau is on maternity leave. We look forward to amazing things from all our newcomers over the coming years. Key Milestones for 2012-13 Extensive work undertaken by our team in partnership with Stockland property developers and Thomastown West Primary School will see the establishment of a brand new community hub for Thomastown based at the primary school and operated by WCC. This hub has been made possible by the generous donation of the building and the cost of its relocation by Stockland. Once active, the hub will house a range of services and programs designed to support the school and broader community. Playgroups, homework clubs, settlement and legal services and adult education programs will all run from the site. WCC has put together a multi-agency partnership that includes the Smith Family, Preston Reservoir Adult Community Education (PRACE) as well as Thomastown West Primary School for the hub. We look forward to achieving some great outcomes for the community in the future. You will read later on in this report of the success in obtaining increased legal funding from both the State and Federal governments. We congratulate both governments for their confidence in our organisation and we are excited at the prospect of growing our work with those in our community who need legal assistance. Over the next financial year we will be increasing the number of lawyers we employ and expanding the reach of our legal services to the community. M AUREEN C ORRIGAN , PRESIDENT AND JEMAL A HMET , C E O 11