Message from Our Chairperson and CEO
We’d like to say a huge thank you to those who have stood by and supported Pathfinders during what has been a challenging time. We are incredibly proud of the way the Pathfinders’ team – Board, Executive, Team Managers and our frontline staff – worked through the significant issues we faced during the past financial year. In a year marred by the pandemic we were able to demonstrate flexibility, responsiveness, creativity and resilience.
As an essential service we continued to meet community needs despite lockdowns, isolation and social distancing. Our Pathfinders Response Team provided guidance and support to our staff and families, addressing issues quickly, keeping channels of communication open, and keeping staff and families connected.
As the leading voice for disadvantaged youth and families in the areas in which we live and work our activities played a vital role in improving the lives of thousands of families during COVID.
Our footprint across the region expanded with a new office in Moree, the purchase of Rose Villa and the development of our sites in Coffs Harbour. We are also expanding our premises in Armidale and Tamworth to accommodate the growing number of staff and the demand for our services. Our staff numbers grew to 230 and we now have 34 locations dotted across the Mid North Coast, New England and Northern Tablelands.
Renovations continued at Tilbuster Station and Pathfinders Royal, and once completed will provide valuable resources for training and education, crisis and short term accommodation, as well as a hub for community activities.
We have developed an Innovative Reconciliation Action Plan that has been endorsed by Reconciliation Australia. Five years in the making, it will be a blueprint for the way in which we work with Aboriginal communities going forward. Importantly it will lead to improved employment opportunities for Aboriginal people within Pathfinders.
Our new Strategic Plan for 2020-2025 provided a guiding light during a turbulent time. With a new Mission and Values, we refocused our commitment to supporting young people from all backgrounds to achieve their goals and build a right future.
There were two events that deeply rocked us this year.
The first was the loss of our much-loved Chair, Phil Borg. His leadership and guidance to the board, management team and the staff was exceptional. His commitment to his role as Chair, his accessibility, calm and wise counsel was appreciated by everyone he worked with. Words cannot express the impact Phil had on us. We continue to grieve for Phil and his family but his legacy has provided us with increased motivation and compassion.
The second event was the destruction of the Armidale Refuge by fire. While all staff and residents managed to escape unscathed, the loss of personal and sentimental items was keenly felt by our young people. For young people from disadvantaged backgrounds
and those struggling with complex needs, the fire created additional mental health issues. We were able to quickly relocate the residents and access professional counselling to support our young people and will continue to provide support as long as it is needed. The response from the community – police, fire brigade, businesses and government agencies – was deeply appreciated.
We would like to thank our Patron, Justice James Woods, the board, our staff and the community for helping us get through what has been “another” year like no other.
Tony Gargan, Chairperson
Alan Brennan, CEO