Centacare Bunbury

Sr Glenys Yeoman (Director)

21st Annual Report ~ 1995/96
Twenty First birthday is always significant. It’s a milestone. A promise of more to come! It is symbolic of movement, an achievement developmental stages successfully traversed!

Centacare Bunbury celebrated its 21st birthday in September 1996. From very humble beginnings down at 71 Victoria Street, where Bunbury Tower now stands, to 1 Cornwall Street (it’s now Wayne Patterson’s Motor Bike Shop) to 103 Clarke Street, the site of the former Anglican School Hostel.

The journey to this point hasn’t always been smooth. Like any organisation Centacare has experienced its share of success, joy, achievement and satisfaction in a “job well done”. As its first Director, I watched tentatively the first faltering steps, then the fearless running and finally the determined steps that come with maturity. Centacare has enjoyed the support of a huge number of Bunbury and regional people. People who must surely rank as among the most generous in this country. When the going got tough in the mid- eighties, the “tough got going”.

A new purpose-built facility was proposed and serious negotiations eventuated. What became known as the “Battle of Gelorup” ensued. We lost the battle but not the war, as history now records. In a ground breaking gesture, the Anglican Diocese generously donated the land on which to build. The historic site adjoined the former convent (now Eagle Towers Restaurant) of the Anglican Sisters of the Order of St Elizabeth affectionately known as the “Grey Sparrows”.

Such co-operation between the Anglican and Catholic Diocese with regard to provision of human services was a first for this region (if not the State). I pay special tribute to Bishop Hamish Jamieson and Fr Garry Priest of the Anglican Diocese and Bishop Peter Quinn of the Catholic Diocese. In the last few years Centacare has moved into a new era of growth with the introduction of ACCESS Programs to our range of services. An update on ACCESS Programs can be found further on in this report. 1995 as a tough year for us, in some ways. Financial struggle is here to stay it seems. While fee for service has been part of our “modus operandi” for almost 21 years. people generally still believe all community services “should be free”, particularly, church sponsored agencies. The traditional sponsorship base has been eroded. Even Government departments now compete with non-government organisations for sponsorship.

The fund raising cake portions are getting smaller and smaller, and volunteers to work in this area are dwindling. Non-Government, not-for-profit services like ourselves have had to face reality and look at ways to generate income apart from relying on Government funding and client fees. Both of these are unpredictable. The business-like approach of the nineties, involving more innovative fund raising, marketing and planning, is a far cry from the ‘charity model’ of old. The learning curve has been enormous.

This will be my last Annual Report as I step down as Director on 31st December I do so with sadness, excitement and some trepidation. Sadness, because I will miss this wonderful group of people, the Centacare staff, the wider Centacare family, particularly the Agency Directors who would he the most supportive national group of executives that I have ever met. And sadness too because I will miss the invitation extended by clients to walk part of their journey with them. I feel excitement at the prospect of a long holiday, and trepidation facing the future and the “what shall I do?” thoughts.

As I write this report it is only two weeks since the tragic cliff collapse at Huzza’s Beach, Gracetown. The Centacare debriefing team members each acknowledged the powerful effect the experience has had on them. I know that I will not be the same again, my perspective on life has shifted. I acknowledge the ongoing partnership with the Department of Family & Child Services, who provide funding for our Family Support Program. I wish to acknowledge also my colleagues in other agencies. Thank you for your commitment and giving.

Finally, I acknowledge with gratitude the support of Bishop Peter Quinn under whose auspices Centacare operates.

To leave without voicing my concern at some trends that I see, would he totally out of character, so I offer the following for your reflection:

  • The medicalising of social issues and problems.
  • The pathologising of the everyday struggles of life.
  • The failure of society to honour competency and experience on equal terms with acquisition of degrees without competency and experience.
  • The growing selfishness in society exemplified in work places wherein the individual takes precedence over any commitment to maintain viable industry so that many people can enjoy employment.
  • The growth of “specialised” services in the human services industry which are leading to a compartmentalising of people’s lives. One wonders what the future holds — special agencies for green eyes, red-haired people with freckles?
  • Increased competition amongst agencies, engendered by Government and Departmental policy, noted particularly in the move towards tender/purchaser provision of services.

In conclusion, I am happy to look back on twenty-one years of service to the people of Bunbury and the region… they have been the best of times and the worst of times … a bit like a marriage.

I thank God for the many wonderful people who walked the journey with me as colleagues; clients and friends. You have made the journey not only worthwhile, but personally enriching.