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CEO’s Foreword

I want to start by saying that I’m immensely proud to be writing this Foreword for our Annual Report this year, my first as CEO.

I’ve worked at every level of this organisation, and I’m not sure how I would respond if someone had told me when I started here, that I would one day lead the organisation.

Reflecting on the thirteen and a half years I’ve been with Relationships Australia Tasmania (RA Tas) and the impact that it has had on my life always serves to remind me of the bigger picture – the reason for coming to work every day. That reason, the commitment we all make to this organisation, is about making a positive impact on the lives of others. The journey is humbling and reinforces the importance of the work we all do.

We’ve experienced many changes as an organisation in the last 12 months and with change comes new beginnings. It’s these new beginnings that help us to grow and learn and become stronger, more coherent. Ultimately, they define us, because they set us on a path that, when travelled with care, will lead us to a brighter future.

…the commitment we all make to this organisation, is about making a positive impact on the lives of others. The journey is humbling and reinforces the importance of the work we all do.

We’ve welcomed many new staff members in the last twelve months, and it’s always exciting to meet and work alongside new people. Our management team has also seen a number of new people join the team and add new perspectives to our work. Another key change this year was Jules Carroll moving in to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) role. Jules has worked in various roles across RA Tas since 2012, and has now successfully established herself in the COO role.

This past financial year we also farewelled Mat Rowell after ten years of leading us as CEO.

Mat achieved a great deal in his time with RA Tas, but most notably he’ll be remembered for his vision for the organisation. One where we would provide professional services, delivered by the best staff in the most appropriate venues.

Our organisation is in a far better place than it was a decade ago. We have a solid foundation on which to continue to build – improving the services we offer to clients and identifying new areas where we can make a difference in the lives of others.

Looking back at the journey we’ve taken over the last 12 months I’m reminded of how well we work together as an organisation and how that is worth celebrating.

In June 2019 we proudly celebrated our 70th Anniversary. We marked this with an anniversary event at the Henry Jones Art Hotel, and as a team at the Staff Conference Dinner.

Reflecting on 70 years of supporting Tasmanians in ways that really matter, we looked forward to how we could continue to do this into the future. This led us to review and update our strategic plan and organisational values.

We took a whole-of-organisation approach to establishing a new Strategic Plan.

It was nurtured through a collaborative process by the leadership group and the RA Tas Board. What we arrived at was something that not only captured the heart and soul of our organisation, but also acknowledged our common goals. It identifies the nature of the people that work alongside us, those that believe in what we are trying to do and who are willing to serve the community to that end.

…our new values are not just words on a page or a glossy poster on the wall, they represent a commitment from all of us.

It connects us, it puts people first, and it reinforces that throughout all of this, we all matter. Above all, it correctly identifies that if we embrace our values and work together, we can move mountains.

In addition to our new values and our new strategic plan, the structure of the organisation has also been given a great deal of attention. In order to ensure that we can meet the operational and strategic requirements of the organisation now and into the future, we’ve made some changes.

The changes to our structures have allowed us to keep the focus on our clients, but to also encourage greater collaboration between teams. To meet our obligations, we need to be effective, affordable and responsive, all while retaining the flexibility required for growth and innovation.

Ensuring all areas of RA Tas are appropriately resourced, with a balance of investment across streams, teams and programs also means we’ll be able to provide consistent service delivery across Tasmania.

Establishing the right structural balance will give us the support we need to meet the goals outlined in our strategic plan. We’ve set the bar high, but we’ve done it with confidence.

We have the resources we need to provide high quality services. We understand the values that drive us, we’ll listen to the people that come to us for support and we’ll meet their needs to the best of our abilities.

In closing, it has been an interesting time to take on the leadership of the organisation. Without a doubt, having to respond to the unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 pandemic has presented its challenges, and its learning opportunities. Both have made us stronger as an organisation.

Earlier this year the Tasmanian Director of Public Health issued a Public Health Order to Tasmanians. In what ultimately affected all of us, this Order told us to stay in our primary place of residence unless we were engaged in a list of permissible activities.

But the Order was about keeping Tasmanians safe. And as we all know, RA Tas is deeply committed to keeping our clients, staff and community safe. We swiftly moved to delivering our services by phone and videoconference. We also set about moving as many staff as we could to a working from home model.

This was a huge change for us, and something we did not see ourselves doing in such a short period of time. It was a test of our values.

Reflecting on our actions as an organisation, we made this change because people matter. It’s because we are willing to serve that we succeeded. We were open to the change and to using new forms of technology, and it reminded us that we’re all in it together.

Our commitment to continue to deliver our services in such unusual times is testament to our strength as an organisation, our ability to adapt and innovate, and our willingness to work towards the common goal of better serving our clients. And for this I would like to thank the Leadership Group, Managers and all RA Tas staff for the significant contribution they have made.

As a final thought, what has become clear to me is that our new values are not just words on a page or a glossy poster on the wall, they represent a commitment from all of us. If we continue to model them every day, they will continue to drive our culture, and it’s a culture that we can all be proud of.

Dr. Michael Kelly