It is with pride that I present my first President’s Report for the 2019/2020 year.

In my first year as President of our incredible organisation, I discovered the true meaning of Jewish Care’s four values: Respect, Community, Inclusion and Social Responsibility. The global COVID-19 pandemic pushed organisations such as ours into turmoil. It has been a time when leadership from the Board and executive towards the management, staff, volunteers and supporters has been crucial.

According to former US President Barack Obama, ‘We achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others and caring for those around us.’ Jewish tradition implores us to look after our own, making it our responsibility to care for those who are vulnerable. We are the sum total of our collective actions.

Last year saw three Royal Commissions into Aged Care, Mental Health and Disabilities. We hope that the Royal Commissions will result in great improvements in services and appropriate government funding across these three areas enabling all members of our community to live with dignity.

In March 2020 when COVID-19 landed on our shores, our Executive went into preparation mode, developing plans which were later put into action. The Board had to make many difficult decisions and lead with strategic direction.

The commitment of staff to Jewish Care and our elders and clients was palpable. Staff who could, worked from home despite challenges in their new environment, front line staff worked long shifts, sometimes leaving their own families to look after ours. Executive and management worked around the clock to ensure on-site leadership at all times. Volunteers assisted with supporting the wider community and nothing was ever too much to ask. Jewish Care learnt to be nimble and adjust to crises as they arose.

From 23 March until the end of June, 4,385 calls were received by our COVID-19 Helpline which was specifically set up to cope with the rise in community demands for support. An incredibly supportive group of foundations and individual donors came together to ensure we could meet this additional demand and the community will be forever grateful. We know the crisis is not over, yet we are ready to continue to support our community as the consequences of the pandemic continue.

In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, we were determined to ensure our elders living in Montefiore Community Residence were able to move to their new home in the Hannah & Daryl Cohen Family Building. On 29 April, we opened the doors to the most magnificent new era in aged care.

Our bespoke Hand-in-Hand™ model of care came to life – small house model providing personalised, client-centric care and support with increased client involvement and independence.

The Anne & Eric Smorgon Active Living Centre has been completed and awaits clients to return to bring it to life. In November 2020, the Carnegie Senior Living & Community Precinct will come to life when elders from Smorgon Family Nursing Home will transfer there. Here too they will follow the Hand-in-Hand™ model of support.

Jewish Care Board and Executive also began strategic discussions to look at our directions for 2021/2022. We will set the course in all areas of our organisation – Aged Care, Disability Services and Individual & Family Services – whilst retaining our unique Jewish identity across all our areas, reflecting the diversity of the Victorian Jewish community. There is a new normal which we all have to adapt to.

According to the South African concept of Ubuntu: I am, because you are.
As President I am, because those around me are.

I sincerely say thank you to my wonderfully supportive and talented fellow Board and to our determined and committed staff. Jewish Care derives its soul from the many able hands of our volunteers and for that, I thank you.

Without the generosity of our incredible community supporters we could not exist and for that I thank you.

Last but certainly not least I am, because our CEO Bill Appleby is. He has embraced our community wholeheartedly and is the person that you want at the helm in a crisis.

I wish to thank each and every individual who contributes to Jewish Care Victoria. I look forward to leading this organisation to further success in 2021.

Thank you.

Susie Ivany OAM