Annual Report

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

MISSION, VALUES AND PRIORITIES                                       

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBERS                                     

HONORARY AUDITOR                                                                

CHAIRMAN’S MESSAGE                                                           

MANAGER’S REPORT                                                               

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                                                        

IN SERVICE TRAINING                                                                

TREASURER’S REPORT                                                              

AUDITORS REPORT                                                                      

MISSION, VALUES and PRIORITIES

 

MISSION

The Box Hill Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is committed to operating in accordance with the aims, policies and standards of Community Information and Support Victoria Incorporated. 

 The Box Hill Citizens Advice Bureau will ensure that individuals and groups have equal access to information about their rights, responsibilities and the services available in order that they can be independent and effective members of the community

 The Box hill Citizens Advice Bureau will exercise a responsible influence on the development of social service and policies

 The Box Hill Citizens Advice Bureau will provide emergency relief to individuals at the discretion of the Bureau

 

 VALUES

To be added after development at 2015 planning

 

 PRIORITIES

To be added after development at 2015 planning

 

 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE  2014 – 2015

 

CHAIRPERSON …………………………………TOM THORPE

 MANAGER………………………………………..DI LUCAS

 MINUTE SECRETARY………………………….HEATHER THOMSON

 TREASURER…………………………………….JOSEPH CHENG / DIANE AGIUS

 COMMITTEE MEMBER…………………………VERONICA CANZIANI

 COMMITTEE MEMBER…………………………MAX COLLINS

 COMMITTEE MEMBER…………………………USHA SUBRAIL

 HONORARY AUDITOR – RICHARD TREGEAR  CPA

 

Emergency Relief and Support Services Provided

Our services assist residents of Whitehorse residing north of Canterbury Road  with personal  support and to relieve financial stress.

Emergency relief

Takes the form of:

  • Food Vouchers
  • Financial assistance with pharmacy, utility and phone accounts
  • Phone cards
  • Transport assistance (petrol vouchers & Myki credits)
  • Telstra Assistance Certificates
  • Clients have now access to our extensive supplies of packaged, frozen and refrigerated foods, bread, eggs and fresh fruit and vegetables whenever needed, this replacing a vast majority of the food vouchers previously supplied. Limited stocks of toiletries and household cleaning items ( to be increased)

 

Advocacy and Negotiation

We provide advocacy assistance and negotiation with dealing with utility and phone companies to avoid disconnections and to negotiate affordable payment plans or to help negotiate utility relief grants and assist clients to access the Centrepay system. Other advocacy assistance also is provided where necessary.

Information and Referral

  • The CAB provides Information about a wide range of community services available to  Whitehorse residents
  • Referrals are also made to a wide range of other local organizations with the appropriate expertise to best assist the clients’ needs: legal advice, financial counselling, emergency housing, health, mental health, family abuse, child and youth services, drug and alcohol information and counselling, tenancy rights, no interest loans (NILS), material aid such as furniture and white goods.

 

Counsellor and Case Worker Service

 Emotional support

  • Counselling
  • Referral for specialist counselling
  • Goal and strengths identification and support to achieve goals
  • Parenting/family support and skill building
  • Advocacy, liaison and assistance

 

Chairman’s Message 10th September 2015

 We are living in an era of change.  Change is all around us and affects us all every day.  This is not new and has been going on all of our lives but seems to be more rapid these days.  Most of us are not keen on too many changes, either because it affects our comfort zone or we are afraid of it, but we must all face the challenges that are taking place in our lives.  Change is mostly a good thing if it is done for the right reasons, but change for the sake of change is not.

 We have certainly seen a difference in the operation of the CAB over the last year brought about mainly by new regulations, the need to keep up with modern technology for record keeping and information and the living requirements of our clients.  There will no doubt be many more changes to come in order to maintain the excellent service our clients have been used to and to stay within our budgetary requirements.  An update on operations will be dealt with more fully in the Manager’s Report.

 Possibly the greatest challenge affecting the operation of the Bureau is the cut which has been made to our funding.  A cut of approximately half our previous amount has been the cause of concern and has necessitated finding other ways of providing our service.  Fortunately the foresight of Manager Di Lucas in organising sources of food supply and the installation of new and modern refrigeration equipment has helped to offset this problem to some great extent to the benefit of our clients.  

 Changes have occurred not only in funding arrangements but in administration, security, accounting procedures, amenities and staffing.  The Box Hill CAB is a different operation to that of two years ago.  Unfortunately things do not always remain the same and the Bureau must keep up with modern technology and variations to regulations and living requirements of our clients.  Even our logo is new.  All of these necessary changes have resulted in a more efficient and streamlined operation and to the benefit of those who need the services of the Bureau

 Staffing as always continues to present problems and we continue to need more volunteers.  During the year we lost the services of some of our long term volunteers due to a variety of reasons including sickness and age related problems.  Lack of volunteers has necessitated the reduction of opening hours.  This has helped to relieve the problem and has not been detrimental to the service offered to our clients.

 Volunteers are vital to our community.  Many services would not be possible without them and those who give their time and talent to voluntary service are very special people.  To all our volunteers at the CAB I offer my grateful thanks and the thanks of the community.

 The process of change is not an easy one for anyone and I congratulate the staff for their effort in maintaining such excellent service to those who need it.  May we look forward to a successful year ahead.

 Tom Thorpe OAM

Chairman

 

Manager’s Report

2014-2015 has again been a year of many challenges for the CAB and its staff,

hence this comprehensive and detailed report.

This year has brought its highs and lows, but ultimately, there has been an overall sense of accomplishment of the achievements and there has been an enormous amount of progress made.

The uncertainty over funding for most of this financial year has made forecasting and planning for our budget over the second half of this financial year (2014-2015) difficult and also for the coming year (2015-2016) and has resulted in many changes in the way we have provided financial assistance to our clients.

The CAB’s Federal Government funding for Emergency Relief has been reduced by approximately sixty percent in the coming financial year. This financial loss has been felt by most welfare organisations ( to a greater or lesser extent).

The reduction in funding has necessitated the CAB to move in innovative ways – to make changes, collaborate with our partners, seek community support and find other ways to assist and support our needy clients.

We have prepared for this financial reduction well in advance, and the CAB is set up for a very exciting and progressive year and I am confident we can look forward to a really positive future.

.Achievements and Outcomes 2014-2015

  • The CAB’s new logo, brochure and letterhead have been designed and introduced- thanks to Bryan Botterill (graphic artist)
  • The purchase and installation of an industrial, professional freezer and refrigeration system, allowing an extensive capacity to cater for large amounts of frozen and refrigerated foods and the safe storage of temperature sensitive foods.
  • Further major reorganization of the food storage area, including improvements to the shelving systems both in the waiting room and food storage area and new procedures in place for food handling and the training of safe food hygiene.
  • Introduction of a special “Foodbank Team” devoted to the collection, packing and organization of the foodbank/storage area.
  • They are also responsible for the packing of all food hampers for individual clients( including those clients with preferences, food allergies and various different cultural and religious requirements).
  • The development of new partnerships and the strengthening of old partnerships with other organisations, to ensure the collaboration of resources and the exchange and sharing of crucial and helpful information for our joint client bases.
  • Securing an ongoing partnership with “Second Bite” for an extensive weekly delivery of all our fresh produce.
  • Establishing a close partnership with the Monash University “Masters Counsellors Placement Programme”,  providing a new, crucial, ongoing client support resource to the CAB –( described later)
  • Securing a very viable partnership with the Federal Government “Work For the Dole” initiative (described later) ensuring a constant flow of needed staff to perform necessary background duties This will also provide a large financial incentive which will provide the funds to redesign our area and purchase the infrastructure needed going forward.
  • The purchase and introduction of the MYOB Advance Accounting System which commenced operation on 1July 2014. A professional software system which covers all our accounting and financial reporting needs now and into the future.
  • Recreation, review and passing of all CAB HR processes and procedures in line with the Constitution and all CISVIC and Government requirements.
  • Set up new procedures and creation of new forms for the collection of the new, altered Government statistics to be entered on the new CISVIC portal as required by “The Consortium” and a new client filing system for recording client files electronically as well as retaining an upgraded manual system to be “user friendly” to all current staff.
  • Major updating of office processes and procedures ( ongoing)
  • Security upgraded including installation of CC TV, extra lockers for staff, changes in other safety and OHS procedures
  • Redefining roles and allocation of duties
  • Active recruitment of new volunteer staff with welcomed IT , accounting and other skills
  • Ongoing, major upgrade and reorganization of the “Information and Referral“ System- with new brochure holders and stands in both the waiting area and staff area, providing current and relevant information
  • The very major project of updating and reorganization of all information into a new system, with expanded information on the relevant issues our clients are facing has been completed, but ongoing. Thanks to Sue Hayes for her exceptional contribution.
  • The Friday team has instigated a “Topic of the Month” which has enriched our sources of information in detail.
  • We have decided to use “Info Exchange “this year, an online information system for welfare organizations and shortly our Community Support Workers will be trained on its use.
  • The clients using our services are presenting with more complex issues. With the installation shortly of more computers, our staff will be able and required to use the internet constantly to access more current and detailed information.
  • Further adjusted hours of business to reflect client need and staff coverage.

 

Emergency Food Coordination / Foodbank and Second Bite

Actual food and food parcels have become more and more important in the past year and will continue to be so, as our client base increases and our funding severely reduced.

Much focus and effort has been put into upgrading the food storage area in our offices this year. This has been in preparation for the reduction in Emergency relief funding. With the purchase and installation of the new professional, industrial freezer and chiller system we are now set up with a very large capacity and infrastructure and with the partnerships now secured, we are now able to provide a very extensive ,ongoing and crucial food resource for our clients.

Foodbank

Foodbank Victoria is an independent not for profit organization which aims to provide food to families and individuals experiencing hardship with food. They coordinate and organize food donated from large and small organisations.

We are extremely grateful to Foodbank Victoria for the enormous amount of food and other products made available to us on a fortnightly basis. The order is placed online and collected from Yarraville by our food team.

Thanks must go to Simon Wheelton – Director of Budget Car & Truck Rentals, for the generous discount offered to the CAB for our fortnightly truck rental to enable us to collect the produce from Foodbank in Yarraville.

The Premier’s Visit August 2014

As one of the largest recipients of produce from Foodbank, the Box Hill CAB was given the privileged opportunity of being the host venue for the official handover by the Premier of Victoria (at the time) Dr. Denis Napthine to Foodbank Victoria of the two trucks donated by the State Government.

The Attorney General Robert Clarke and the CEO of Foodbank David McNamara were in attendance. After the official formalities and photo shoot, Dr Napthine and entourage had a tour of the CAB and chatted to the volunteers.

Second Bite

Second Bite is a not for profit organization which distributes high quality fresh food donated by farmers, wholesalers, markets and supermarkets and supported by various Community Agencies.

Over the Christmas break, when all other agencies were closed, the CAB remained open and accepted and distributed over 3.5 tons of fresh produce ( fruit, veg, eggs, bread etc ) to needy clients – “The CAB Holiday Season Fresh Food Programme.“

Clients from all other adjoining agencies were invited to use our service including Camcare,  Doncare, East Burwood Uniting Care, Salvation Army Box Hill and St Vincent de Pauls. This also prevented this valuable (food) resource going into landfill over the Christmas period. The remaining produce was provided to Kara House Women’s Refuge and delivered to local boarding houses.

We provided the same “CAB Holiday Season Fresh Food Programme “over the Easter break earlier this year and have pledged our support again in 2015-2016 to Second Bite over those breaks.

Much gratitude goes to those loyal volunteers who participated in these initiatives during these holiday periods.

As a result of these initiatives the CAB has now secured a permanent partnership with Second Bite ensuring a large amount of fresh produce delivered to the agency on a weekly basis.

Many other “one off “opportunities have been offered by Second Bite -for example -50 cooked chickens were offered with 30 minutes notice. David Ballinger and I collected them and delivered to the local boarding houses and the Salvation Army transitional Housing. To these clients it was fantastic and they had a wonderful meal that night. 

My thanks to Emily Wild – Agency Food and Procurement Manager -Second Bite for her assistance and collaboration over these initiatives and our ongoing partnership.

Some staple items and toiletries are in short supply and we are very grateful to the following churches who have helped provide these particularly needed items: St Pauls Lutheran Church, Belmore Road Church of Christ, Box Hill Baptist Church, Uniting Church Box Hill, Salvation Army Box Hill.

Uniting Church Forest Hill also provide ongoing food vouchers which are gratefully received.

Counsellor and Case Worker Service

Recently the CAB has promoted and secured a partnership with the “Monash University Counsellors Placement Programme”. This will ensure ongoing access to two experienced counsellor/case workers into the future.

Many thanks to Melanie Craig – Senior Professional Experience Officer – Post graduate placements, Monash University for her assistance and collaboration.

This service provides:

  • Emotional support
  • Counselling
  • Referral for specialist counselling
  • Goal and strengths identification and support to achieve goals
  • Parenting/family support and skill building
  • Advocacy, liaison and assistance
  • Information(EG housing, legal, consumer education, employment and welfare matters
  • Budgeting assistance to regain financial confidence and control
  • Access to additional material aid and other practical support

 

“Work for the Dole” – Initiative

Currently the paperwork is in the final stages of completion for the “Work for the Dole” programme, which is a Federal Government initiative through Maxs Solutions. This will give young, local people from the ages of 30-49 work experience and hopefully assist them to become gainfully employed. This initiative ( over a six month period) also offers a financial incentive to the CAB and will provide the financial assistance to set up the infrastructure( according to council requirements), to provide the nine extra people with work stations ,computers , software  and provide a lunch room as required by the programme.

We have secured:

  • Two administration staff
  • One accountant
  • Three web designers
  • Two food officers ( food handling courses to be completed)
  • One IT support person

I am responsible for organization, coordination and supervision of this team and the regular reporting to Max Employment.

This infrastructure, once in place, will give the CAB the capacity to help more young, local people to gain employment. At the same time, in collaboration with other organisations, this will allow us to initiate new projects, enhance our progressive and changing culture within the CAB and to find innovative and exciting ways to promote social change. This will continue to assist those most in need in our local community with both financial assistance but also with education and strength based support.

 Telstra Bill Assistance Programme

  • Telstra has once again provided $4,000 in vouchers for home accounts
  • Phone cards for those clients with no credit on mobiles
  • Phone away cards- for  asylum seekers/resent migrants for overseas calls

This has always been a much welcomed initiative for our clients and we are so appreciative of Telstra for this resource and to CISVIC, for the organization of this process.

Christmas 2014

In 2014 the CAB, in close partnership with the Salvation Army Box Hill provided our clients with gift cards instead of the traditional Christmas hamper with Christmas “Fare”.

Toys were made available for the children through the Salvation Army Christmas Toy Appeal.

The multicultural nature of our client base and the transient population of many of our groups has indicated that a change was needed. This enabled all to celebrate the festive season with respect to their culture and culinary preferences. This was extremely successful and the change welcomed by the clients

Thanks must go to St. Paul’s Lutheran Church for their extremely generous donation of $7,900 of Gift Cards many thanks to John Hinz for is wonderful assistance. Thanks goes also to Box Hill Rotary Club for their $1000 contribution and the generous contributions from Forest Hill Uniting Church, Box Hill ATO, Centrelink Box Hill and Box Hill TAFE. These donations have ensured that our clients can celebrate Christmas with family or provide some cheer to the lonely during the festive season.

Staffing

We have said farewell in the past year to many of our long term staff and we thank them for their wonderful contribution and loyal support, both to our agency and the Whitehorse community as a whole:

Ian Baglin, Joseph Cheng, Doreen Johnston, Ann Ruck, Cecelia Jensen ,Grace Mannerheim, Max Collins, Tongji Wang, Alex Taghipour, Arash Pouyanfar and Somayeh Farahani .

A farewell lunch was held at Box Hill Golf Club and was attended by 30 volunteer staff past and present.

We have also welcomed many new volunteers to our team this year:

Diane Agius, Stephanie Si, David Ballinger, Rachel McAarvey, Patricia Thomas, Trevor Russell ,Michael Panna, Paul Aitkenhead and Bryan Botterill.

The CAB is now a truly multicultural team, reflecting the same multicultural nature of our local community. Our older members bring a wealth of experience and the new members bring welcome IT skills and diverse experiences and skills from other sectors.

Apart from our Community Support Workers, other roles within the agency in 2014-2015 were undertaken by our volunteers with the necessary skills and credentials:

  • Information and Referral : Sue Hayes
  • Finance :  Tongji Wang and Kim Wong
  • Data Imputing : Usha Subrail , Patricia Thomas and  Kim Wong
  • Bread Collection : Dan Southwell
  • Emergency Food Ordering, Coordination and Organisation  Dan Southwell, David Ballinger, Alex Tanghiour ,Trevor Russell, Paul Aikenhead
  • IT /computers : Arash Pouyanfar
  • Graphic design : Bryan Botterill
  • Website Development (To commence September 2015 through Work For the Dole initiative)

We welcome our auditor, Richard Tregear, for the second year and thank him for his advice and contribution with conduction of the annual audit this year.

The CAB recently has said farewell to Joseph Cheng who has been invaluable in our finance area, and as our Treasurer over many years. We thank Joseph for his enormous contribution.

Roster

We have readjusted the opening hours of the CAB once again, to reflect and cover the very busy times, and have allocated more staff to these shifts. There have been some adjustments, but the new roster has been overall very successful.

The recent decision to close the CAB on Wednesdays has allowed the food team to deliver, unpack, repack,  store and organize the enormous amount of incoming produce all on one day ,without constant interruptions, in preparation for the week ahead and to avoid the OHS issue of clients and unpacking with boxes and crates in the waiting room.

The Consortium

With the change of government there have been major changes in the welfare sector and the way Emergency Relief funding has been allocated in 2015. This process was continually delayed well into 2015.

As the peak body of the “Consortium” (of which the CAB is now a part), CISVIC (Community Information and Support Victoria) has been extraordinary in confronting the new challenges and lobbying for all participating agencies which are now a part of the Consortium  Our “collective voice” will always have more power for future social justice and changes in the welfare area.

When preparing our forecasts and planning for the second half of the financial year 2014-2015 the CAB had been faced with the difficult decision of reducing some of the financial support offered by our Emergency Relief program. This had been necessary to maintain the future deliverance of our ER program. We are confident that the financial stability and prudent management of funds over the last year will enable us to continue to remain loyal to our vision of offering those most in need a professional and generous helping hand.

Goals for 2015-2016

  • Extensive training, up skilling, communication and education programmes for staff -including the initiation of a staff newsletter.
  • Ongoing improvements to processes and procedures
  • Ongoing development and sourcing of new successful partnerships for the purpose of funding and innovative approaches to better management of funding and finance.
  • Investigation and implementation of new and innovative programs to help our clients with a collaborative approach involving present and prospective partners.
  • Development and implementation of a professional website and further IT improvements(WFD) 
  • Sourcing of partners to provide essential items such as toiletries, washing and cleaning products and new fresh food donors – including local supermarkets and fresh food markets.

 

In Conclusion -Thanks

The CAB thanks our generous funding bodies, philanthropic organisations and private donors for their continuing commitment to the Box Hill Citizens Advice Bureau. We are forever grateful to The City of Whitehorse for this wonderful space enabling us to deliver our support services to our clients in a professional and welcoming environment. Thanks go to Julie Lyons, the Community Support Officer, Roger Murnane and his fantastic team for the support and physical help with the ongoing maintenance of our offices .This support will be particularly helpful with the upcoming major revamp of the area prior to the “Work For The Dole” initiative commences, providing the extra nine work stations and lunch room as required.

On a personal level, I would particularly like to thank the following individuals and groups who have supported me in my role: Diane Agius for her recent amazing work with the HR and governance documents, her advice and mentoring. The team from CISVIC, Kate Wheller, Minh Nguyen, Meagan Skehill, Anne-Marie Yung  and Helen Besley. Also Barbara Zellar from Doncare for her advice and assistance, Richard Price from the Salvation Army in Box Hill ,Leonie Burnham from Eastern Community Legal Centre for her valued advice and Julie Tang from Eastern Volunteers ( forgive me if I have missed anyone).

Many thanks must go to Tom Thorpe our chairman who has made an exceptional contribution to this agency over 23 years.

Finally, thanks to our wonderful volunteers, a dedicated and experienced team who every day listen to people share their problems and at times deal with overwhelming circumstances. On behalf of the Whitehorse community we thank the volunteers for the ongoing support and professionalism they provide our clients on a daily basis.

As the Manager of the CAB, I am looking forward to this coming year. I believe that the extensive, but necessary changes which have been implemented, and the infrastructure which has been put in place over the last two years 2013-2015 (and ongoing), will ensure that the Box Hill Citizens Advice Bureau will become a viable and vibrant organization, which continues to progress in the future in an innovative and collaborative way with our partners, to enhance, extend and increase our services. This will ensure our ongoing and professional support for the residents in our local community who are in the most need of support.

 Di Lucas

 Manager

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS WITH THANKS

 

            The Federal Government                          ATO Box Hill            

            Whitehorse Council                                    Belmore Road Church of Christ                  

            ADRACARE                                               Friends of the Bureau                      

            Foodbank Victoria                                      Eastern Emergency Relief Network                  

            Second Bite                                                Box Hill Tafe

            Budget Car & Truck Rentals                       Box Hill Lions Club                        

            St Paul’s Lutheran Church                          Box Hill Rotary Club

            Box Hill Baptist Church                               KOGO (Knit One Give One)

            Forest Hill Uniting Church                           Telstra Assistance Programme

            Eastern Volunteers                                     Maxs Solutions          

  

In Service Training

 In the year 2014-2015 there were several information and training sessions for volunteers involved in the day to day advice to be given to clients.

 Meagan Skehill the Sector Development Manager from CISVic attended a session recently in August to inform us of the many changes occurring in funding to C.A.B’s.

It was most enlightening and was appreciated by all those who attended.

 Attendance at training sessions remains difficult for some volunteers due to other commitments.

These sessions however are beneficial for volunteers and assist in the day to day knowledge required for interviewing and assessing clients needs.

 The Box Hill CAB appreciates the contribution that guest speakers provide for our volunteers.

 Heather Thomson

 

 

 Treasurer’s Report

 Emergency Relief funding has been impacted significantly this year with a reduction in funding of approximately 60% going into the new financial year.  

  1. Income for the 2014/2015 year totaled $130,018.59 sourced from:
  • Federal Government – Department of Social Services $101,272.29
  • Whitehorse Council – $10,300
  • Donation Income $18,446.30
  • Interest $1028.73 
  1. Expenditure details: 
  • General expenses $13,109.70
  • Emergency relief expenses $90,184.85* 

*See attached Balance Sheet and Profit and Loss Statement for the 2014/2015 financial year.  Highest expenditure incurred was for food vouchers, pharmacy, utilities and transport. 

  1. New Financial Year 
  • Funds as at 30/6/15 = $74,679.64 (includes food vouchers totaling $20,375)
  • $26,665.74 was received on 28/7 from the CisVic Consortia
  • $10600 has also been received from City of Whitehorse Council 

** We have been given approval to support a Federal Government Work for the Dole Team Initiative with 4 people specialising in Web Design joining us to complete a project over 6 months.  This initiative attracts a funding allocation of $3500 per person. 

*** Another 5 people will be referred to us under the Work for the Dole initiative to complete their working hour commitments.  This will attract a funding allocation of $1000 per person.

All funding under the Work for the Dole initiative will be used to redesign the office and to provide better infrastructure and equipment. 

A new budget plan will be prepared for the first meeting of the incoming Board of Management. 

The Box Hill CAB wants to acknowledge and thank Richard Tregear CPA for his wonderful contribution auditing our financial reports pro bono over the last 2 years. 

Diane Agius 

Treasurer

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