Chairperson Update

COVID-19 Update Anna Schwartz – Chairperson 1 April 2020

As you will be all too aware, we are facing a tremendous health and economic challenge in the form of COVID-19.  We wanted to assure you that the MWHCP Board, CEO and staff have been working to assess the impact to our services and rearrange the delivery of our services to ensure the women we assist continue to get the support they need, particularly at this time.

We have implemented a COVID-19 plan with staff in alignment with all Government requirements.  We have closed the office and moved staff to their home offices.  Our counsellors are providing their counselling service via phone and video conferencing (Zoom), our CEO and administration staff are working from home continuing their vital work.  The response from clients has been very good and they are appreciative of what we needed to do to protect all concerned.  In closing the office, we are not offering our group classes or creche.  We thank our creche staff, instructors and volunteers for their patience in this uncertain time.

While these are not the best of times, they are providing some space to rethink how we do things and what we value.  Board Member Rosemary Donavon is preparing a Membership Plan so that we can strengthen our connection to our members in a manner that suits their availability.  Rosemary would love to hear your ideas about what we could do to better serve you. Please contact her at boardmember4@mwhcp.org.au.

The Board was working on plans for the 25th anniversary.  However, these plans have been placed on hold while we put our attention to the constantly changing environment we find ourselves in to ensure we provide the best governance to the organisation, ensure its financial sustainability, work with staff to support them in working remotely, and find ways to support our clients within the current restrictions.  When we all have a measure of certainty back in our lives, we will recommence planning celebrations for the 25th anniversary again.  At this time we do not know when that will be and we have not committed any funds.  We are acting prudently.

We have engaged an accountant at an agreed and fixed fee to review our accounting system and our financial strategies to ensure we are acting in the best interests of the organisation.  This has had an immediate benefit in that our accountant advised us of our ability to obtain tax relief under a Government program for charitable organisations.

We have adopted a strategic plan for 2020 that will be reviewed with staff in September.  If you would like a copy of the plan, please email Liz Handley, Vice-Chairperson at vicechaiperson@mwhcp.org.au.  Our next priority is to complete a review of our policies and procedures.  We have free access to an online organisation that specialises in standards and policies for not-for-profit organisations and we will utilise these resources.

Much of what I have written probably seems rather prosaic.  I appreciate that but as a Board we are very focused on reviewing and getting our governance fundamentals right so that we have a robust organisation that can respond to COVID-19 or any other challenge. 

We would love to hear your thoughts and your ideas on how we as a community could support women who will find the requirement to stay at home more challenging than ever.  If you are interested in donating to a fund to assist women who may need to access emergency relief funds for food, shelter, or other requirements to protect themselves and their children, please contact me at chairperson@mwhcp.org.au.  We recognise that in this time of a health crisis and economic crisis money will be tight for everyone.  But if you are able to donate to this fund where money will only be used to assist women that our staff identify as being at risk, you would be making a tremendous contribution.  Our commitment to you will be that we advise you how your donation was used with all the appropriate protections of privacy but with enough information that you know someone who needed your support got it.

Thank you for your continued support. 

In appreciation

Anna Schwartz

Chairperson – Midland Women’s Health Care Place