In order to facilitate our work assisting people experiencing poverty and disadvantage, our enabling services play a pivotal role in realising the ‘One Society’ approach and many objectives of the Strategic Plan 2020-2022.
During the 2020/21 financial year, the Society made a significant investment in the automation of processes related to the support of people we assist. With the increased demand for assistance brought on by emergencies like the bushfires, floods, and drought, the Society implemented an Online Emergency Relief management system that can be tailored and deployed rapidly when responding to such emergency situations. In addition, the Society developed a new Conference Assistance Management system.
The Society commenced the replacement of its aging Point of Sale system across all retail stores and CDS centres. This project commenced in the 2020/21 financial year and and will be complete by December 2021.
Significant efficiencies were achieved in technology services, reducing networking and service desk costs helped to achieve a reduction of over $760 thousand annually whilst achieving higher levels of service for users. The Society in NSW has also commenced delivery of Technology Services to Canberra/Goulburn, Tasmania and Victoria, sharing systems, best practice and expertise to leverage existing investments across multiple states.
In addition, a number of the Society’s software systems were improved and upgraded, including the new People Performance and Growth Elmo system; improved reporting of our outcomes with members, volunteering, and client dashboards and a new budgeting and financial reporting system.
The key driver of the property strategy is to support the people we assist by managing our assets effectively.
In the 2020/21 financial year, the Property team focussed on providing enabling services to our many stakeholders. We have assisted our retail partners in developing a new growth strategy to target 15-20 new stores over the next 3-4 years.
A new ‘dividend / return’ protocol was implemented, and this led to a paradigm shift in the responsibility for property activities and budgets. This will be further enhanced by the procurement of a new property management systems which will become the platform for increasing the quality and efficiency of our work by simplifying, standardising and automating functions within the property portfolio. Longer-term asset planning will be undertaken with formal asset reviews of each of the Society’s properties as part of a value enhancement and co-creation approach.
We also continued our sustainability work by focusing on cost effectiveness and the use of environmentally friendly energy sources. This resulted in the continued roll out of Solar Panels across over 30 premises (50% funded by grants) and the continuation of our LED lighting projects started in 2019.
The 2021/22 financial year will also see an increase in large capital works projects within master planning of our key metropolitan premises as well as up to six new housing projects on the drawing board focussed on improving our disability & inclusion and domestic violence services.
The role of procurement continues to grow at the Society, facilitating an ongoing focus on cost effectiveness, efficiency, risk management and ensuring supplier alignment with our mission and values.
The centralisation of financial operations in 2020 has enabled greater capacity for the Society to achieve efficiencies and cost savings through economies of scale and identification of preferred suppliers. We continue to progressively review and select Society-wide preferred supplier arrangements that provide financial savings and administrative efficiency through consolidation, without compromising on service delivery. Procurement also supports strategic projects, which in 2020 has included the introduction of several IT platforms, providing tactical procurement advice and assisting with negotiations.
Procurement also plays a major role in the Society’s work in relation to the Modern Slavery Act and our Reconciliation Plan. During 2020 we published our first Modern Slavery Statement, reflecting our commitment and work to date in identifying and eliminating the risk of modern slavery in our operations and supply chain. We continue to engage with our suppliers in relation to modern slavery. We have also engaged with Supply Nation in support of our intention to increase opportunities for First Nations business to supply goods and services to the Society.