Frank Deane, Chairman REPORT for 2016

A year of capacity building, continuous quality improvement and consolidation.

We are at the midway point of the 3-Year Strategic Plan for 2015-18 .Capacity building continued into 2015-16, when we opened another new Sensory group home in June, making a total of 13 group homes, across 11 different locations in the Sydney metropolitan, Shoalhaven and Nepean areas.

To support these group homes, the Group Home Support Centre in North Rocks has had a face-lift to cope with the demands made upon this socially inclusive centre. In addition to many resident and employee activities, Forsight Australia shares this centre with Community groups, Rotary, Inner Wheel, Trefoil and Probus.
Sixty-five residents who are Deafblind or have dual sensory and additional disabilities live in 13 Sensory Group Homes. To maintain full capacity, Forsight Australia has a waiting list on line offering an opportunity to persons living within Australia needing to access a high quality sensory accommodation support program in areas of operation to register their expression of interest.

The National Disability Services (NDS) State of the Disability Sector Report 2015, was distributed to Board members and Regional Managers to inform debate on the processes to be undertaken, opportunities and risks identified in a NDS business confidence survey, the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), workforce sustainability and research/policy.

Each Local Area Coordinator (LAC) is engaged by the National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) to convene a meeting for each resident and their family members, Guardian or Advocate to decide on supports and goals for a costed plan. Regional Managers provide support to each LAC and all stakeholders to ensure there is a solid evidence base consisting of a suite of plans that identify individual needs. There is still much to be learned as information is released through the government Portals. A brief quotation from Dr Ken Baker CEO taken from the NDS report that sums up what is required:
The NDIS must have a service sector that is dynamic, financially sustainable and rewards providers of high-quality supports. Consumer choice will help drive this, but it won’t be sufficient. There must be a well-tuned combination of pricing, regulation, expertise and commitment.

In order to prepare Forsight Australia for the NDIS the Board has met monthly during 2015-16 in order to support each member of the Executive Team to keep updated on the NDIS implementation. While the National Disability Strategy is a major reform designed to improve the lives of vulnerable Australians with complex support needs, the Board wants to be able to convey to all stakeholders that the specialist sensory supports provided by Forsight Australia, will receive adequate funding under the NDIS to ensure the organisation remains financially sustainable.

The introduction of the NDIS has been a challenge, for example clear avenues for appeals against inadequate assessments are vital, constant review of funding is required to enable comprehensive services to be maintained and review of payment in arrears is essential. On this last issue the initial proposal indicated that service providers should allow three months cash reserves. In an organisation such as ours with a turnover of $10m that would require an amount of $2.5m! Very few Not-for-Profits are able to meet this criteria, however, the Forsight Australia Board made a commitment to provide security for its sensory accommodation programs Deafblind adults in 1989 and also in 1998, when the Board purchased 4 properties, one with a donation from the Rotary Club of Carlingford “House on Line in ’89” project.

During this year both Directors Ross Davis and Hilton McKenna have retired from the Board and both deserve special recognition for their significant voluntary contributions to the strategy for growth achieved in the 2008-18 10-Year Strategic Plan. Ross retired after 26 years on the Board, including 10 years as Chairman, where he continued the focus on the capacity building and overseeing the purchase of 4 properties and Hilton McKenna after 10 years on the Board plus Chair of the Board Planning Committee, maintaining the focus on capacity building. They have both provided exemplary service to Forsight Australia and we thank them.
Growth in resident population has improved our efficiency by:

Continuous Quality Improvement, CQI
Peer reviews to be completed prior to the Third Party Verification (TPV) by International Standards Certifications (ISC) in 2017.

Consolidation
We are strengthening the accommodation support systems, keeping good staff and are striving for a full complement of permanent employees.

Patron, Ambassadors and Leaders
Achievements this year have included expansion of the group with a strong sense of trust being established. We are now ready to build on the leadership skills within this very supportive team of volunteers and Forsight Australia Leaders through a new project for 2017.

Workforce sustainability and diversity
Building on the Randstad bulk recruitment drive for 60 new recruits, we have continued our quest for skilled workers to join our diverse workforce through internal recruitment.

Business sustainability and financial expertise
Expansion began 2015 with increased capacity in 2016 to meet demands of the NDIS and reporting and accountability requirements.
In addition to the foregoing the Board has prepared a new Constitution to meet future needs and operations. It has also adopted a new and comprehensive Directors’ Manual. This document was the result of the efforts of Anne Abraham. Further, the Board has been active in recruiting new Board members to bring in new ideas and skill sets.

As indicated last year this year has been one of consolidation. Rapid growth produced many issues including Industrial Relations and some commercial matters that have been appropriately dealt with by Forsight Australia. There have been significant staff changes.

It is appropriate that I acknowledge the outstanding contribution by our CEO Trish Wetton, especially her ‘networking’ skills, her vision for the organisation and her ability to convey our project ‘concepts’ to donors and sponsors. I would refer you to Trish’s CEO Report, for specific acknowledgement of support. On behalf of the Board I send my heartfelt thanks to all.

The efforts of the Finance and Business team led by Manager Soon Chua, and Human Resources Manager Mary Lane have been innovative and energetic. Every employee deserves recognition, from Senior Regional Manager Scott Goodman, Regional Manager Scott McPhillips and Acting Regional Manager Brad Mungean to the nine House Managers and their teams of Disability Support Workers. Their dedication and application has made “One Team One Forsight” a reality.

Finally Forsight Australia has been incredibly well served by an active and vital Board. Treasurer Ken Bunt took on a difficult role and excelled. Deputy John Allsopp always requires sound argument before any commitment. Carol Morgan, Anne Abraham, Peter McAllister and Dr Robert Lawrance are a privilege to work alongside.

To the whole Forsight Australia family I say “thank you for entrusting the Board and Management to provide our sensory programs to your loved ones”.