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A decade of reform predicted for community services

In addressing members of the 30th Synod in Session, UnitingCare Queensland Chief Executive Officer, Anne Cross spoke about the identity of UnitingCare Queensland as the Uniting Church at work in the world and how this identity influences daily decisions.

"Who we are as the Church influences many service delivery decisions, as we grapple with financial viable.

"We continue to invest in many unfunded activities, because it is important for the wellbeing of people and communities," Anne said.

In turning to the highlights over the last 18 months, Anne pointed to the delivery of health and community services to over 14 000 individuals, every day of the year across Queensland.

"Our 16 000 staff, almost 9 000 volunteers and chaplains apply themselves to caring for and supporting people across a range of services in over 400 different locations.

"This is a daily highlight," Anne said.

Elaborating on UnitingCare Queensland achievements, Anne mentioned an increased capacity to deliver culturally appropriate services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in North Queensland, through the transition of aged care and drug and alcohol services from Congress Community Development and Education Unit to Blue Care.

"These additional services support our ongoing commitment to reconciliation and help to the close the life expectancy gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Queenslanders," Anne said.

Anne also cited the chaplaincy review recently conducted by the Director of Mission in Blue Care as another highlight in the last 18 months, resulting in more equitable access to chaplaincy services across the state.

Another significant activity of UnitingCare Queensland since the last Synod was our response to the Australia Day floods, managing delivery of Blue Care and UnitingCare Community services in affected communities and responding through deployment of Lifeline Community Recovery workers to assist those who were affected by the floods.

In analysing the external impacts on the future of the human services sector, Anne Cross talked about constrained government budgets at both a state and federal level and resulting cuts in funding for services.

"Changes in government direction present both opportunities and risks.

"As governments look for strategies to outsource the health and community services they deliver, there will be opportunities to work with government to provide additional services.

"It will also mean growth in `for profit' providers in community services and more mergers and partnerships between providers as they seek to gain market share in reconfigured community service provision.

"It is a changing and unknown future as funding is lost and gained and the sector grapples with reforms in aged care, disability, child protection and health care.

"The environment is unpredictable which is why UnitingCare Queensland holds steadfast to its mission and values as the foundation for all its work, providing daily guidance for traversing the environment and ensuring that the people we serve are at the centre of all that we do," Anne said.

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