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SHFPACT 2020-2021 Annual Report Cover Image

SHFPACT 2020-2021 Annual Report


Council and Executive Report

In another challenging year globally and locally as the COVID-19 pandemic and response evolved, we are proud to present this report as an overview and summary of SHFPACT’s wide range of activities. The adaptive capacity and flexibility demonstrated by the SHFPACT team in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic set the organisation up well for responding to the high level of demand for clinical, education and training services that followed, and which was sustained across the whole financial year covered by this report and beyond.

Uncertainty about how the pandemic would unfold and how public health responses would impact on SHFPACT’s ability to deliver services in our community, on our team, and on our budget and financial position was met with a very cautious approach by Council and management to all expenditure in order to ensure that the organisation could weather further challenges that might arise, especially given our limited eligibility for further government stimulus supports after September 2020. Ultimately, the entire year July 2020 to June 2021 was remarkably unaffected by these considerations, but the confidence this might have imbued earlier was not clear until much later. The risk that at any moment an outbreak in the Canberra community could radically alter everything was felt throughout the year, and our ability to confidently plan training delivery further afield for the SoSAFE! Framework was also limited. Adjusting our activities to meet community demand and ensure COVID-safe delivery of services remained a senior staff and management preoccupation throughout the year.

In the end, conditions meant that we met and exceeded activity targets and cautious budget targets across all areas of the organisation, and effectively demonstrated our capacity to shape flexible ways to continue to deliver healthcare, health education, and workforce development training services to our community. 

Local and national advocacy from the reproductive and sexual health services sector ultimately resulted in recognition and restoration by the Australian Government of Medicare items for telehealth. We are grateful for the supportive response and continuing advocacy of ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith MLA on this front, and for the recognition by Australian Minister for Health Greg Hunt MP of the diversity of the primary healthcare sector that enables this mode of service delivery to continue from July 2021. 

Around the ACT Election 2020 in October, the SHFPACT Council and Executive Director were active in engaging current members of the Legislative Assembly and candidates, sharing our strategic directions and discussing the importance of reproductive and sexual health for the Canberra community. Across major party platforms, recognition and commitments to the NGO sector broadly, and to specific reproductive and sexual health priorities within SHFPACT’s advocacy and service delivery focus were committed to. Engagement with returning and new MLAs since the election has continued. 

In a year where community attention nationally refocused on continuing high levels of sexual violence, and young people’s calls for better school-based education on consent, SHFPACT is proud to join other researchers, advocates and community organisations in the establishment of the Relationships and Sexuality Education Alliance, with its focus on harnessing our collective experience and expertise to influence and advocate for universal access to Comprehensive Relationships and Sexuality Education for all children and young people in the Australian Capital Territory. Executive Director Tim Bavinton was a keynote speaker at a roundtable convened by ACT Education Directorate of education sector stakeholders to renew attention on respectful relationships, consent and sexuality education in schools. And we noted the announcement by ACT Deputy Chief Minister Yvette Berry MLA with ACT Victims of Crime Commissioner (and former SHFPACT Council member) Heidi Yates, Dr Vanita 

Parekh of the Forensic and Medical Sexual Assault Care service in Canberra Health Services, and CEO of Canberra Rape Crisis Centre Chrystina Stanford to convene a stakeholder group to review and make recommendations on improving prevention and response to sexual violence from June onwards. SHFPACT staff have been invited to join the working groups and Steering Committee for this project from June 2021 onwards. 

SHFPACT staff continue to make a strong contribution in the consultation, advisory and policy advocacy arenas in our local community and through ACT Government processes including: the ACT STI/BBV Health Advisory Committee; the NGO Leadership with ACT Health (formed as part of the response to the cultural review of public health services); contributing to consultations on the Territory-Wide Health Services Plan; the development of a commissioning approach to health NGO contracting in the ACT; and sitting on the community reference group for the ACT Health LGBTIQ+ Health Scoping Study.

In our ACT Budget Consultation submission 2020-21, SHFPACT proposed a project built on renewed global efforts to prevent cervical cancer, addressing the unscreened and underscreened populations through a collaborative  partnership approach, in addition to our calls for greater programmatic policy approaches to reproductive and sexual health policy and health services planning, and for renewed funding for support services in reproductive and sexual health for people with disabilities. We were very pleased that the election commitment from the returned ALP-led government to restore ACT Government funding for sexual health education and related activities for people with disabilities  was announced in the 2021-22 ACT Budget in October 2021. 

SHFPACT successfully navigated its first renewal of registration as a provider under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the auditor recommending renewal (confirmation still pending from the NDIS Commission), a key focus of quality improvement and accreditation compliance in this period. 

With an eye to growing future needs and after a period of caution regarding recruitment as the organisation managed the impacts of the pandemic response, in the last year we have more confidently engaged new team members to build our capacity to respond to sustained demand of SHFPACT’s services. In our Clinical Services and Reception team we welcomed Dr Melanie Dorrington (who resigned from her position on SHFPACT Council to join the Clinical Services team), Dr Martina Mende and Dr Daneille Butler who all work in other roles in general practice, Megan Campbell RN (Sept 2020 to March 2021, who left with SHFPACT’s support to take up a role in the ACT Women’s Health Service), and Tegan Higginson in Reception and Clinic Support. We were very pleased to welcome Dr Sheridan Kerr to the SHFPACT team in April 2021, joining the Executive and Management team as Senior Director Organisational Development and Quality Improvement, with a focus on implementation of our strategic plan. Sheridan brings a wealth of experience and expertise from her career working with children, young people and adults in policy, research and education contexts, knowledge translation and education consultancy supporting the needs of students with disabilities. 

We are especially grateful for the sustained commitment and effort by all of the SHFPACT team, and their focus on ensuring that the people who use our services across our community get the healthcare, education, training and information they need. And the leadership demonstrated by the management group — Drs Clare Holberton, Jenny Leung and Rosa O’Kane; Anne Carroll and Hilary Freeman; Leanne Blewitt; Kylie King; Angela Rule and Aga Włodarczyk; and Dr Sheridan Kerr — in supporting their teams, monitoring and planning through the uncertainty and change, and attending to ‘business as usual’ throughout this year. This collective effort is reflected in the diversity of activities and work set out in the pages that follow.

Sophie Fisher                     Tim Bavinton
Council President            Executive Director

Read the complete SHFPACT 2020-2021 Annual Report from the link below.


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