OUR PEOPLE

OVERVIEW

In striving to provide world-class community services for people experiencing disadvantage, it is also essential that we provide support for our own people: the members, volunteers and employees who make this work possible.

We have made Our People a core pillar of the Strategic Plan 2020–2022 in recognition that the Society would be nothing without the many thousands of people who make our mission their own. Our priority is to nurture and support all of our people so that they are fully engaged and empowered to work together towards addressing poverty and disadvantage.

OVER THE THREE-YEAR PERIOD OF OUR STRATEGIC PLAN, WE HAVE COMMITTED TO:

  • Create opportunities for all of our people to engage with our tradition, mission and vision;
  • Develop a membership strategy that ensures membership engagement and care;
  • Develop a volunteer strategy that ensures effective support for our volunteers;
  • Create an organisational culture that supports ‘One Society’;
  • Implement, monitor and evaluate our Reconciliation Action Plan; and
  • Create a safety culture for all of our people in every site and every activity.

In order to facilitate the Strategic Plan 2020–2022, this financial year we embarked upon an ambitious internal restructure. A key component of this was the creation of a new Members, Volunteers and Regional Operations directorate, bringing together the work of our members and volunteers as well as mechanisms to support them. Within this directorate, we enhanced the cohesion of our regional membership teams, grouping 10 pre-existing Central Councils into five wider regions with shared characteristics. This simplified structure is already making it easier to deliver consistent support to all of our members, whether they reside in the city or the country.

Our Conference members, volunteers and employees responded magnificently to the challenges of the drought, bushfires and COVID-19, working harder than ever before to help families and individuals affected by these emergencies. In particular, the bulk of bushfire relief was delivered by members and volunteers, whose commitment was made even more remarkable by the fact many of these people were impacted by the fires themselves. Throughout the Black Summer and coronavirus periods, we provided personal support for those members, volunteers and employees affected and also worked with government authorities to facilitate the distribution of financial assistance, while organising referrals to a range of additional Commonwealth, state and not-for-profit services.

For all their many challenges, our responses to the crises of 2019/20 have made us stronger. A major achievement this year was the development of an online facility that enables the people we assist to apply for support via an online application and contact-free process. This facility is currently being used to assist people applying for bushfire financial support.

We are boundlessly grateful to our people for their dedication through this unpredictable year. Please read below to learn more about our incredible members, volunteers and staff, and how we supported them in 2019/20.

OUR PEOPLE – QUICK LINKS

WORK HEALTH AND SAFETY

Our work health and safety priority areas include:

  • Optimised productivity;
  • Work performance and capacity;
  • Decreased absenteeism;
  • Minimal workplace compensation claims; and
  • St Vincent de Paul Society NSW becoming an employer of choice.

The past year has seen great strides taken in the direction and intent of our work health and safety approach across the Society. At the forefront of this work has been the adoption of the ‘Safety Differently’ model where our people are positioned at the centre of the solution and not viewed as an impediment to achieving a safe workplace environment.

Among the leading achievements during this time, a data capture system was developed to provide greater accuracy and increased transparency in our incident management and reporting, using key safety indicators to guide decision-making. As well, an extensive functional gap analysis safety audit highlighted several recommendations to be adopted across the organisation.

As a result of this audit, a new Work Health and Safety Action Plan was activated for 2020-22, identifying six key levers to deliver projects over the next three years:

  • Justice culture (shared accountability, learning, reporting, no blame)
  • Healthy workplace (optimised productivity, performance and capacity)
  • Governance (operationalised due diligence)
  • Risk management (critical risk focus)
  • Management systems (frameworks, data and software platforms)
  • Leadership (distributed leadership and shared accountability)

We also consolidated six disparate work health and safety document systems, and developed a substantive and populated document annex system, as part of our progress towards achieving ISO 45001 Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S) management system accreditation.

In partnership with AlignHealth, a dynamic early intervention and support model was developed as a precursor to our Employee Assistance Program support. During the initial bushfire response period, a pilot program was activated to assist our people, which was subsequently carried across during the coronavirus.

WORKING FROM HOME DURING CORONAVIRUS

In response to the advice provided by government and leading health authorities, all Society employees, where possible, transitioned to working-from-home arrangements in late March 2020.

Staff deemed to be working in non-essential services were required to provide evidence of safe working conditions, with arrangements made to address concerns. In instances where staff were unable to safely work from home, alternative arrangements such as remaining in the office with limited staff and social distancing measures in place were implemented. For staff able to work from home during this time, technical support was provided to address technology concerns and ensure home internet speeds facilitated the demands of Microsoft Teams video conferencing.

Most of our community services continued to operate with social distancing measures in place, ensuring vulnerable and at-risk groups received necessary support. Some services paused or reduced face-to-face programs and instead delivered support through phone and video conferencing. (More information about our services’ response to COVID-19 is available in the Service, Quality and Impact section of this annual report.)

At the end of the 2019/20 financial year, working from home arrangements remained in place for all employees where possible.