Chair Board of Directors
“… my heartfelt thanks goes to our CEO, Senior Leadership Team and all our people across all our teams for the grit, passion and commitment displayed throughout the year.”
I am pleased to present our 2021-22 Annual Report.
As we closed out reporting and processes for 2021-22, it provided an opportunity to reflect on what has been an interesting year, and one that presented a few challenges for our team. After working hard in 2020-21 to keep our doors open and to provide safe and compliant services, despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021-22 proved to be another busy year for us. We got off to a great start, with Pedder Padder completing the transition to officially join our Lady Gowrie Tasmania (LGT) community, and welcoming our new CEO, Mat Rowell, to the team.
Mat was our first new CEO for 27 years and asking him to take on the role was no small task. However, we have been extremely lucky to have Mat join and lead our team. His engagement and support and communication with our staff, families, stakeholders and Board, helped us navigate the challenges that emerged during the year. Mat’s commitment, patience, calmness and open approach were particularly valuable as we worked through the leadership transition, and beyond.
The big challenge for our team came in the lead up to December 2021, when our state’s borders opened after an extended period of only limited access. This was a key change in the shift from efforts focused on containing the spread of COVID-19, to living with COVID-19. This was confronting for many of our families and our staff and saw a number of changes as we worked through that transition. This included managing an increase in COVID-19 cases and close contacts, securing and distributing Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) and the introduction of mandatory masks in our services; and the resulting challenge of room closures and staff being unable to attend work due to quarantine requirements. This caused a ripple across our services and added pressure to our team who were working hard to keep the doors open to as many rooms, services and programs as possible.
As a Board, we received daily updates which allowed us to monitor case numbers in our services and workplaces, actions taken and the impacts on our services and programs. We also unanimously supported a proposal from our Senior Leadership Team to implement paid special COVID leave to support our staff members that were unable to attend work due to quarantine requirements. The Board also resolved and was strongly supportive of the government mandated vaccination of our educators and staff, including Board members, as part of our ongoing focus and resolve to put ‘Children First’ and to provide them and their families with care and spaces that were as safe as possible.
However, we safely weathered the storm of 2021-22 and my heartfelt thanks goes to our CEO, Senior Leadership Team and all our people across all our teams for the grit, passion and commitment displayed throughout the year. While our financial performance this year was not as strong as it has been in recent years, we have maintained a strong balance sheet as a cumulative result of a number of years of careful budget management. This is enabling us to continue to invest in improving and expanding our facilities and services. It also provides cover for the rainy days like we experienced this year, where we were able to juggle forced room closures and a reduction in the utilisation in our services, while still supporting our team and implementing measures such as providing additional paid leave while in quarantine.
As we catch our breath, we have a few more changes to close out the financial year, as we farewell and welcome a few faces in our leadership roles. As part of the ongoing succession of our Board, we are farewelling three members of our team: Barbara Mawson, Chris Smith and Sharyn Gill.
Barb is our deputy chair and has served the organisation tirelessly and passionately for eight years. This comprised: two three-year terms, and Barb twice accepting the Board’s request that she stay on for an additional year to continue to share her LGT and comprehensive education knowledge and experience, as well as her caring and measured approach and insights. Among the work led by Barb was her recent role as chair of the Risk and Audit Subcommittee, advocating for a focus on our risk and audit management and supporting actions. I am very grateful to Barb for her support, calm guidance and commitment to our work and cause, both to me in my role as Chair and the Board more broadly, and for keeping our focus on the children we are working to support.
We are also farewelling Chris Smith and Sharyn Gill from our Board. Chris and Sharyn also brought extensive educational experience and insights to our team, and both dedicated three years of service to Lady Gowrie Tasmania on our Board and working in our Subcommittees. Most recently, both Chris and Sharyn have been diligent members of our Finance Subcommittee, working with the team to carefully review and monitor our monthly results, budgeting and forward plans. Chris’s rigour and willingness to support additional priority Board activities and projects, and to ask difficult questions, in particular, will be missed as will Sharyn’s insights and passion towards our Mission and ideas to progress our strategic goals.
On behalf of the Board, thank you Barb, Chris and Sharyn. You will be missed, and we are grateful to have had your input, support and camaraderie. In some good news, at our AGM we get the opportunity to formally welcome and appoint three new Board members: Brenton West, Helen Mitrofanis, and Kate Gillies, who will all start their first three-year term with us. Brenton, Helen and Kate bring a wealth of experience and expertise including in a range of organisations and senior leadership positions spanning corporate, people and culture, finance, on boards and much more! We are excited and privileged to welcome them to our team.
I’d also like to acknowledge Kathy Cripps, our General Manager, Education and Care. Kathy has been with us for 26 years and has been a key part of building Lady Gowrie Tasmania into the organisation it is today. Her knowledge, experience and ability to keep calm no matter the issue, is second to none. Kathy is retiring at the end of 2022 and while we wish her the fondest possible farewell and are grateful for her dedication and investment in LGT, we will all be terribly sad to see her go. However, Kathy has built a fantastic team who have had the opportunity to observe and learn from her experience and leadership, which, along with our fantastic education and care programs, will be a part of the legacy she will leave.
My thanks also go to my colleagues on the Board and particularly for their willingness to come together throughout 2021-22, often at short notice, to work through emerging challenges and to make decisions to support our team, services, programs and families over the past year.
Lastly, a big thank you to our team – to both the people that you see each day and to those working hard behind the scenes to keep our services and programs open and safe, who supported, paid, trained and provided our team with access to the systems and tools they need to live our mission of ‘Children First’.
2021-2022 BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Many thanks to the voluntary Board of Directors. They contribute individually and collectively to Lady Gowrie Tasmania’s work in multiple ways and bring a range of complementary skills across disciplines that are relevant to the work of the organisation.
Anne Beach (Chair)
Barbara Mawson (Deputy Chair)
New members to be appointed at the 2021/22 AGM:
Helen Mitrofanis (Joined October 2022)
Brenton West (Joined October 2022)
Kate Gillies (Joined October 2022)