10th National Conference of Greek Welfare Centres in Cairns

St John’s Community Care recently hosted the 10th National Conference of Greek Welfare Centres in Cairns. The conference commenced on October 8th with a Divine Liturgy conducted by His Grace Bishop Seraphim, representing His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos. The service was followed by a luncheon provided by the local Philoptochos ladies and volunteers.

The conference theme was ‘The Environment of Opportunity’ and aimed to look at the current changes in the welfare sector and determine the opportunities they present, rather than focusing on the challenges they cause.

Conference deliberations started on Monday morning, where Bishop Seraphim conducted an Agiasmos service. Delegates from across the country were then welcomed to the region by Cairns Regional Council Deputy Mayor, Cr. Terry James.

Representatives from Welfare and Aged Care centres were in attendance, with organisations from South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland all providing reports on their programs and innovative projects during the two days of the conference.

St John’s then premiered their new promotional video, recently commissioned, which showcases the services they provide across Queensland, featuring clients and Care Workers telling their stories and experiences.

Peak aged care body LASA provided speakers, Troy Spiers and Sharyn McIlwain, principle advisors within LASA, who discussed the recently released Tune review and the implications it may have on servicing in the sector. Diversicare Advisory Service discussed supporting elderly clients from CALD backgrounds and a St John’s Community Care client living in Supported Accommodation described what care is like from a client perspective. Olive Tau-Davis, a well-known local community advocate spoke about migration and the experience that people from many cultures have when they come to Australia, and the opportunities and challenges they face.

The conference program featured speakers from a number of government agencies who discussed topics including the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), Aged Care reform and compliance from both a financial and program perspective. The Australian Aged Care Quality Agency was represented by the Qld Assistant Director, Susan Turner, who co-presented with Carina Wilson, Director of Qld Aged Care Regulation. Arna Brosnan, Regional Executive Director of the Queensland Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services and Des Lee, Northern Queensland Regional Manager of NDIA both discussed the NDIS and the opportunities it presented to both clients and services.

Conference sponsors BDO and NAB provided those assembled with advice and regarding their ability to assist organisations navigate regulatory compliance and make the most of opportunities.  Tom Hogbin, Senior Manager from BDO presented a case study, outlining efficiencies and benefits from restructuring and redefining financial systems; whilst Anna Lazanyi, an Associate Director with NAB outlined the benefits of banking with NAB who are able to tailor banking to the needs of those under the auspice of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese.

During the conference delegates were treated to performances by the internationally renowned Tjapukai Aboriginal dancers and the ARC Beats drumming troupe featuring drummers and dancers from a local disability service provider.

Day two offered delegates the chance to showcase their own seized opportunities. GWC Community Services NSW presented a moving project which told the stories of elderly Greek clients who had migrated to Australia; St John’s presented their Mobile Time and Attendance – a phone based app used to keep client records up to date and to maintain Care Worker safety; and Greek Welfare South Australia described their project which supports clients to understand their rights when dealing with government agencies.

The final session of the conference focused on the environment of opportunity and how organisations and activities under the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia could work more collaboratively for common outcomes. The workshops developed a number of ideas which will be further discussed in meetings to take place in the coming months.

The conference was a great chance for networking and has seen a number of small and large opportunities for sharing and collaboration discussed. The 11th conference will be held in 2019, and all are looking forward to seeing how opportunities have been taken forward and used to better the lives of our clients and those in our communities.

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