The Aboriginal Community Services Annual General Meeting (AGM) was held on 23 November 2023 at the Hilton Hotel, Hilton.  Thirteen members were present, and two absent members provided proxy votes in advance of the meeting.

As in previous years, Ron Palmer from Not-For-Profit Success assisted the Chairperson by facilitating the AGM.  The newly appointed Board Governance Secretary, Michelle Holian, assisted with minutes.

Key business for the AGM is the presentation of the Annual Reports for 2022-23.  The Chairperson, Garth Dodd, presented the Chairperson’s Report. Of note, he made reference to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission audit of Adelaide Metro services in February 2022 which identified non-compliances with some quality standards.  ACS has worked, and continues to work, with external supports and with the Commission to evidence compliance with the quality standards to achieve best practice outcomes for our Elders. The impact of COVID-19 on the services in 2022-23 was also discussed.  Pleasingly, the Board developed a new Strategic Plan for 2023-2027 which incorporates the four strategic pillars of (1) community, (2) culture, (3), capability, and (4) corporate.  The Chair thanked the staff of ACS for their commitment and effort and thanked fellow Board members for their energy and support as volunteer Board members.

The CEO, Graham Aitken, reported that services had continued to grow in 2022-23 and was providing a full continuum of aged care supports to Elders across metropolitan, regional and remote locations. Focus points included the Aged Care reforms impacting the sector now and into the future, and the outcomes of the Aged Care Royal Commission.  ACS is pleased to have contributed to chapter 7 of the Commission’s final report, that contains recommendations specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander aged care.  ACS continues to received positive feedback from Elders on Home Care Packages, particularly as they have choice and decision-making on how their Home Care Package is used.  Graham, too, thanked the staff of ACS for their continued commitment to providing services to Elders and thanked the Board for volunteering their time to lead the organisation.

The Treasurer, Hitesh Goel was supported by General Manager, Finance and Corporate Services to present the audited financial statements and the budget for 2023-2024.  The financial reports show that ACS has grown in size from 2021-22 to 2022-23 and is in a healthy financial position. This is a positive outcome for the sustainability of the organisation and its capacity to continue to grow and support Elders into the future.   The Members accepted all three reports presented, and confirmed the proposal that Creative Auditing continue to act as ACS’s financial auditor in 2023-2024.

Business then moved to the re-election of Board Directors.  Five of the six Board members had terms of office ceasing at the AGM and all five expressed willingness to offer themselves for re-election.  Following a secret ballot, three of the five members were re-elected as Board members.

The Board now constitutes four Board members, being Malcolm Gollan, Maria Stewart, Cath McGee and Dr Senthil Govindasamy.  Cath McGee thanked the exiting Board members, Garth Dodd and Hitesh Goel, for their leadership and service as volunteer Board members with ACS over previous years, and wished them well for the future. A dinner has since been held to which all past and present Board Members were invited.

The Constitution requires that a meeting be held following the AGM to appoint the office holders for a term of one year.  Following a meeting held on 30 November 2023, the Board has appointed Malcolm Gollan as interim Chair and Cath McGee has been returned as Secretary.  Board governance training has commenced on 15 December 2023 to assist ACS to be able to comply with Aged Care Quality Standard 8 – Organisational Governance.  Further training will be scheduled for Board in January and February 2024.

As the Board does not have a member with the necessary financial management expertise, a Treasurer has not yet been appointed.  ACS has advertised for a new Board member with financial expertise, and this advertisement will close in late December 2023.  It is anticipated that a selection process will be conducted in early January 2024 enabling appointment of a new Board member to a casual vacancy on Board, and appointment as Treasurer.  The new Board member appointed will need to be elected by members at the AGM held in 2024.  A broader recruitment process will be held for Aboriginal Board members to join the Board.  This process will open shortly and be open for some months in early 2024 to enable a range of interested candidates to be considered.  If you, or anyone you know, has the skills and interest to join the Board of ACS please get in touch to start a discussion and take up the opportunity to express your interest.  While Board roles are currently voluntary roles, at the AGM 2022, members supported a special resolution to progress a remuneration policy for Board members.  The remuneration arrangements will be developed further in early 2024 and will help to attract and retain the skilled and experienced people needed to provide appropriate organisational governance of ACS now and into the future. 

We look forward to Board and management working collaboratively to continue to grow the quality, safety and reach of our aged care services of Elders into the future.

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