Wednesday, 14 March 2012

News from the Board … March update


Welcome to the first regular update from the President and Board of Down Syndrome NSW

A number of members have suggested that it would be informative for the board to, as well as providing its annual report to members, provide some more regular updates to let people know a bit more about ‘what the board is up to’ so this month I present the first of these.

It was a great honour and privilege to be elected President of Down Syndrome NSW at the 2011 AGM and to join a wonderfully dedicated and diverse team of board members. The place has changed a bit since I was last on the board (or ‘committee’ has it was then) in 2007. The most obvious physical change is our extra space – office space, meeting space, space for our expanding library, space for new staff, new projects and, finally, some space for families! Our original ‘cottage’ at North Parramatta served us well for the first few decades, but as we have grown ‘up and out’ we simply outgrew our ‘government-issue’ 70 square metres.

Another obvious change is the number of new faces and new roles – our staffing has increased from 7 full time equivalents to 12 over the past four years so we are still officially a ‘small business’ facing much the same pressures today as any small business does. All up, we have almost 20 people in our staff team now (mostly part time and casual) . Down Syndrome NSW’s greatest asset has always been and remains our people!

It is great to see the new work being done by our expanded team for example in education of hospital staff, expansion of our UP!Club, our regional expansion and of course the exciting Independent Living Support Initiative (ILSI) we have developed with the NSW government.

Another change, as I alluded to is the change from having a ‘management committee’ to a board of governance’. With our growth, in 2009 the members voted to move from a ‘management committee’ to a ‘board of governance’. The board has been able to concentrate more and more on overall strategy, direction and governance while letting the professional managers and staff ‘get on with the job’ of the day to day running of the organisation.

Some of the work of the 2011 – 2012 board to date has included:
  • implementing the board charter developed by the previous board and a checklist reflective of the charter to keep us on task and on track during board meetings
  • reviewing the key performance indicators (kpis)of our strategic plan 2010 – 2014, and ensuring we can measure our progress on achieving the objectives of our strategic plan. One of the goals of our strategic plan was the creation of a ‘national entity’ representing people with Down syndrome and families Australia-wide, and with its own intellectual property. It is particularly satisfying for me and the board to finally see the birth and development of ‘Down Syndrome Australia’ as a national ‘voice’ to government and the Australian community. 
With growth, of course, comes change. And change can present challenges for any organisation. The board has been working with Steve Clarke, the CEO to oversee a staff restructure involving primarily our finance /administration and project development teams to enable our best use of our limited resources and to ensure we fund and manage our growth in ways which best responds to our members and families’ needs, best meet our strategic plan objectives and best secures the long term sustainability of DS NSW. The board and I recognise that restructures of course can be difficult times for staff - I thank the team for the positive ways they are responding to the opportunities and challenges ahead. Our family support services of course remain at the heart of what we do.

Our growth has of course been driven by some wonderful fundraising achievements due in no small part to the wonderful support of our families, members and donors. 

The Board and I look forward to following the exploits of our intrepid ‘scrappers’ taking part in the Scrapheap Adventure Ride which has raised over $20,000, as well as hearing the stories of everyone holding morning teas and other T4321 events to celebrate our first ever United Nations endorsed World Down Syndrome Day.

Please feel free to contact me any time on the email below or via the Association offices or our Chief Executive Steve Clarke, steve@dsansw.org.au to discuss any aspects of the work of the board.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day!

Best wishes
Stephen Ricardo
president@dsansw.org.au

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