Council and Executive Report
SHFPACT is strategically positioned to navigate the upcoming funding, political and service commissioning cycles in the Australian Capital Territory.
As a result of community consultation, review of data, and a scan of the sectors in which we operate, SHFPACT has a clear picture of the community health needs we seek to respond to and advocate for.
To ensure clear processes and smooth transitions as service funding agreements drew to a close, ACT Health offered an extension of current contracts which was signed in June 2019 for a further three-year period. SHFPACT navigated a review of contracted activities and outputs as part of this process, and will contribute actively to the health service planning processes anticipated with ACT Health over the coming years.
We have continued to work with community sector partners to address needs and issues identified through our joint projects over recent years, including:
- SHFPACT worked with AIDS Action Council and Hepatitis ACT to shape an NGO sector contribution to the development of implementation plans for national STI/BBV strategies, building on our collective sector needs analysis report that explored the current and emerging contexts for this area of common focus.
- SHFPACT contributed to a joint project with Women’s Centre for Health Matters (WCHM), funded under the Women’s Grants programs. The joint project built on research work completed by WCHM in the previous year on women’s experience of views on reproductive and sexual health needs and services, which specifically identified access to information for young people as a priority. A website was launched in July 2019 as a result of this joint work.
- SHFPACT contributed its unique expertise and perspective in reproductive and sexual health and schools education experience to a project led by ACT Healthcare Consumers Association on health literacy.
- We worked with our interstate colleagues through Family Planning Alliance Australia to pursue common policy and advocacy goals for reproductive and sexual health in Australia, including approaches to key government and opposition representatives in the health and education portfolios.
While cost of abortion services in the ACT and nationally remains a significant barrier, SHFPACT and other community stakeholders were pleased to see the law reform changes to abortion laws in the ACT take effect, significantly easing some of the barriers for provision of medication abortion in primary care settings.
And we were pleased to see Queensland and New South Wales law reform efforts come to fruition in the review and update of their legislation governing abortion.
There is now greater consistency across Australia jurisdictions in laws shaping the provision and access to abortion than at any time in the last six decades.
Staff from both clinical services and the education and training team have been actively engaged with the Office of the Senior Practitioner, which plays a significant oversight role in the rapidly changing environment and regulation of restrictive practices used on people with disability.
We said farewell to the staff team of Women With Disabilities ACT (WWDACT) who have shared our office space for the last two years.
The success of that organisation and its rapid growth outgrew the space available here, and we wish them all great success in their work and new offices with YWCA of Canberra.
The SHFPACT Council welcomed many new members during 2018-19, and a priority of the Council’s agenda was to ensure their induction and orientation to the organisation, its governance, programs and services.
While a substantial body of strategic planning work was undertaken in 2018, the outgoing Council believed it would be important for several new incoming Council members to have the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the strategic environment and position of the organisation. The continued strategic review process facilitated a fuller understanding of the complex intersection of activities, business models, pressures and opportunities that SHFPACT navigates in pursuing its purpose of improved reproductive and sexual health for the Canberra community.
With last year’s surplus result, the organisation committed significant resources to the re-development and renewal of the SoSAFE! Framework to ensure its ongoing currency, relevance and acceptability.
Despite this investment, SHFPACT has recorded only a small deficit result of $1,872 compared to a larger budgeted deficit anticipated at the beginning of the financial year
Changes in the staffing levels of the organisation, primarily in clinical services, impacted revenue against budget targets, but also expenditure, which contributed to this better than anticipated result. Initially anticipated to be $50,000 or more, the final levy for contributions to elevator upgrades at our premises was $25,512.35, and was fully absorbed in the operating result for 2018-19 — SHFPACT would have achieved another strong surplus result without this extraordinary expense. The reserve of $50,000 created last financial year to pay for our share of the levy has been reduced.
The result continues SHFPACT’s focus on our financial sustainability goals since 2016. SHFPACT Council and management continue to monitor how the introduction of concession fees to replace bulk-billing for concession-eligible priority populations impacts clients’ access to our services. The fees were introduced after more than a decade of underwriting losses to support low-fee access to clinical services in particular, which had become unsustainable in the context of major funding changes in 2016.
Data over the last three years points to a continuing balance of fee-for-service and free/low-cost consultations comparable to years prior.
SHFPACT continues to work towards Council targets of a current ratio of 2:1 (FY2019 improved to 1.76:1, FY2018 1.57:1), and a minimum months-of-operating buffer in the range of 2-3 months (estimate 2.26 months at June 2019).
It remains the intention of the organisation that consistent program surplus results will ultimately be reinvested in accessibility strategies for priority populations in line with SHFPACT’s purpose and mission, and enable the organisation to invest in new areas of work not supported by government funding.
The SHFPACT Council draws members’ attention to the re-stating of last year’s results in the Audited Financial Statements for financial year 2018-19. This arises from the correction of accrued expenses for the final payroll of the previous financial year. The result is a reduced surplus for the previous financial year as those costs are properly apportioned.
The SHFPACT Council approved a budget anticipating a small deficit for financial year 2019-20.
SHFPACT continues to make a positive impact in the Canberra community because of the passionate and skilled people who choose to work and volunteer with us.
We are a small organisation working across some big issues, and every year as we pause to reflect on the range of that work, we are reminded that people are the heart of it all.
Thank you to the elected and appointed members of the Council, who voluntarily contribute their time, expertise and wisdom to guide the organisation on behalf of the wider membership.
Thank you to the staff team who bring diligence, care, and skill to every engagement with clients and community. And thank you to our wider network of members and supporters who contribute their time because they want to see reproductive and sexual health improved in their community.
This year we particularly acknowledge Jane Malcolm. For five years, Jane has volunteered her time and skills to support the SHFPACT Council and Executive Director with minute-taking at monthly meetings.
This year, Jane is stepping back from this role.
We are enormously grateful to her for this longstanding contribution, and her continuing interest and passion in the work of the organisation. May she continue to ‘fail’ to successfully ‘retire’ through her other contributions, interests and passions. Thank you, Jane!
On behalf of the SHFPACT Council and SHFPACT team.
SHFPACT President: Janelle Weissman
Executive Director: Tim Bavinton