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Children & Families

Parents As Career Transition Supports (PACTS) ran as a Brotherhood of St Laurence pilot project on the Mornington Peninsula.  It aimed to empower parents to better support their children's transitions from school to work and/or further education by building parents' knowledge of post-school pathways and today’s job market.  The pilot ran from late 2003 until December 2005, funded by the federal Department of Education, Science and Training as one of 23 Career and Transition (CATS) Pilot Projects around Australia.   [1]


The BSL was contracted by the Department of Human Services for a 12 month period to undertake the Breaking Cycles/Building Futures (BCBF) Project. This aimed to identify and implement strategies to promote more inclusive antenatal and universal early childhood services which better engage and assist vulnerable families. It was funded to add value to the Best Start program, a three year initiative that aimed to improve the health, development, learning and wellbeing of young children across Victoria from pregnancy through to eight years. Best Start was conducted in 11 local government areas and two Indigenous communities, characterized by above-average levels of disadvantage. BCBF was conducted in three of the 11 Best Start local government areas - Maribyrnong, Shepparton and with indigenous families in Whittlesea.  


Through the BSL's Public Housing Advocacy Program (PHAP), homework programs were established at

  • Horace Petty Estate (Prahran), with the support of Rotary Prahran
  • Park Towers, with the support of St Luke’s Anglican Church
  • Highett Estate, with the support of Southern Family Life and the Kiwanis; and
  • the development  of an after school program run by local residents was supported at Hampton East Estate.  [2]   


Community issues

Fanning the Flames of Reconciliation (FtF) - a 3-year community development-focused project began in February, designed by ANTaR Victoria, funded by the Community Support Fund (CSF) and supported by the Brotherhood of St. Laurence (BSL)


Funding from the Victorian Government's Indigenous Community Capacity Building Fund was allocated to the Mildura Aboriginal Cooperative to support a joint project between the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Equal Opportunity Commission to develop The Torch Project, which aimed to increase Indigenous employment and community leadership roles.  This resulted in the program, Re-Igniting Community North West (Mildura, Robinvale, Swan Hill, Kerang and surrounding areas) coordinated by The Torch Project and supported by the Brotherhood of St Laurence, and aunched by Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Gavin Jennings, at the Mildura Arts Centre. (27 July) [3]


Monash University second-year medical students took part in a new Community Placements Partnership program with the BSL.  The students spent half a day a week on a voluntary basis undertaking a specific project.  A small amount of funding came from the Medical Faculty to support the project.  [4]  Community_Partnerships_Program_Evaluation_2003-11.pdf


Through the BSL's Ethical Business Project the BSL campaigned successfully with the Textile, Clothing & Footwear Union of Australia (TCFUA), Fairwear and the Uniting Church for legislation to improve working conditions for Australian textile industry 'outworkers'  


A special performance of "The Bridge", the latest production by The Torch which had been touring Victoria's North-West (created with the communities in Kerang, Swan Hill, Robinvale and Mildura) was arranged at Trades Hall.  This was an opportunity for those funders and the BSL Board who were supporting the "Re-Igniting Community North West" project to meet each other. (3 December)


Employment & Training

A partnership between the BSL, GJK Facility Services and the Victorian State Government led to the "Cleaning, Grounds and Maintenance and Waste Management Contract" at the Collingwood and Atherton Gardens Public Housing Estates being awarded to GJK by the Office of Housing on July 1, 2003.  One of the key terms of the contract was the employment of Public Tenants.  The Brotherhood of St. Laurence provided expertise and support around the engagement and on-going mentoring of the PTEP employees. Through working in the collaborative partnership the BSL gained a corporate and contractor delivery based perspective whilst providing expertise in personal support in both the employment and training.  


The first 12 participants from Atherton Gardens Estate graduated from the Community Jobs Program to full time paid employment.


The STEP Group Training Company trained and supported indigenous trainees through the STEP Up program in partnership with the Federal Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR)


The Furniture Works Training Centre (begun in April 1996) was the subject of a presentation to the May meeting of the BSL Board in relation to its future operations FurnitureWorks_BSL_Board_presentation_2003-5-27.pdf


The Brotherhood's Fitzroy Job Network program was judged unviable and closed in September, with the Frankston Job Network remaining operational. 

Material & Financial support

The BSL and the ANZ Bank developed the Saver Plus matched savings program as a contribution to improving financial inclusion.  The pilot was then implemented by the BSL in Frankston and, in partnership, by Berry Street in Shepparton and The Benevolent Society in Campbelltown, NSW.  The program encouraged families on low incomes to regularly save toward educational costs or resources such as a computer, school camp or textbooks.    


The BSL established a Micro-credit program with the Community Sector Bank (a joint venture between Bendigo Bank and 20 welfare agencies including the BSL) and Australian whitegoods manufacturer Electrolux to provide bank loans to people on low incomes to buy essential household goods from the BSL’s Deer Park store.  [5]


The BSL, in partnership with the Emerald Hill Community Residents Association and St Luke's Anglican Church opened the Cool Change retail store in South Melbourne  


The May Appeal 2003 - Breaking the cycle of youth poverty - resulted in the net result of $464,436 at the close of business on 4 July 2003 ($100,000 over the 2002 budgeted figure) [6]


In partnership with the Social Entrepreneurs Network and Cape York Partnerships, the Brotherhood of St Laurence supported (with funding and resources) the Indigenous Stock Exchange - the Kuku Yalanji trading floor - in Mossman, North Queensland, on 20 August


Older people

The BSL, after 4 years, transferred coordination of the Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Community Aged Care Packages (ATSI CACPs), formally known as the Koorie-specific Community Aged Care Packages to the Aboriginal Community Elders Services (ACES). The program had begun with 45 Elders and grew to 59 people from around the wider metropolitan area.  A new flexible care package - the Wunga Making a Difference program - for Aboriginal young people with a disability in the region also moved to ACES at this time. This had been developed by the BSL, in partnership with the Department of Human Services, the Eltham Community Health Service, the region and the Aboriginal Community Elders Service (ACES). (September) [7]


The BSL received a $500,000 bequest to fund a research and policy project focused on the relationship between ageing and poverty.


In a partnership with St Vincent's Hospital (Fitzroy) a transitional care service for older people discharged from St Vincent's hospital and awaiting accommodation in the community was established close by at the BSL's Sumner House low care aged care facility (Fitzroy).  The BSL had 2 unfunded beds and St Vincent's were in desperate need for transitional care facilities for older people.  Following discussions between the BSL and St Vincent's and formalised via an annual agreement,  St Vincent's effectively rented the beds and services regardless of whether they were filled or not.  (This arrangement continued until 2010) [8]

Organisational aspects (BSL)

Organisational Chart April 2003

Organisational Chart September 2003


At the beginning of 2003 Dr Paul Smyth took up his appointment as the BSL's General Manager - Social Action & Research (SAR) [9]


Joanna Dimopoulos was appointed by the BSL as its representative on the Community Services & Health Industry Training Board (from January).  BSL's membership of the CS&HITB was seen as bringing to its deliberations the particular focus of the Brotherhood as an employer within the Community Services sector and as an advocate for those who are seeking pathways into the world of work.  [10]


Brotherhood supporters were surveyed early in 2003 (the first such survey since 1998) to gather information "to improve what we do and how we operate … What has changed? What is the same?".  [11]


The BSL's  'Market Place & Position' Executive agreed that Working for an Australia free of poverty be the "strapline" (a secondary sentence attached to a brand name) for the next 12 months  (10 February)


A Code of Ethical Behaviour was developed, setting out the principles for all staff and volunteers and for the trading partnership with suppliers in order to achieve the BSL’s goals   


An Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant was received by La Trobe University for the writing of a history of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, with the BSL as an "industry partner"

The position of head of the BSL's Research and Policy Unit became a professorial position in partnership with the University of Melbourne 


The BSL's internal Innovation Hub was established in June 2003, providing seed funding and support for staff to implement creative ideas that contribute to the BSL vision of an Australia free of poverty.  Staff members were invited to access the support of the Innovation Hub for projects that would contribute to the BSL vision of an Australia free of poverty by:
•     improving the efficiency and/or reach of existing BSL service delivery
 •    creating jobs for disadvantaged people
 •    developing sustainable social enterprises.

The BSL Innovation Manager provided one-on-one coaching, and facilitated access to skills training and mentors, as well as networking between the social, corporate and government sectors to promote innovation and social enterprise development.


Half-way through the financial year 2003-2004 the Innovation Hub had been presented with 27 projects at Stage 1 (up to $1,000 available to carry out work such as feasibility research, community consultation and project planning), 13 projects at Stage 2 (up to $4,000 available to conduct further research or consultation, develop a business plan or marketing strategy, carry out pilot projects or purchase equipment) and two projects at Stage 3 (up to $10,000 able to be accessed at the beginning of project implementation, this funding was to cover initial set up costs including staffing, marketing & promotion costs and equipment purchases).
Innovation Hub projects included:

  • Employment of an editor at BSL Craigieburn for the publication of a Craigieburn community newspaper known as "The Bridgewater News"
  • The employment of a Socialisation Coordinator in BSL's Community Care, Frankston
  • $10,000 grant to The Torch to enable them to explore new performance models to work with Local Government, schools and the corporate sector.  [12]


A "reshaping" of the BSL's management structure was put in place at the beginning of July  [13]


Nic Frances, Executive Director since 1999, moved out of that role to take up a project related to the establishment of a "Centre ...  to focus on how the real costs of unemployment can be offset against services adn needs valued by Australians for a healthier society - including public education, health care, restoring the environment and the desire to live in a fairer and more inclusive society". Duckett_to_Stakeholders_re_Frances_&_Centre_2003-8-4.pdf  Advertisement_ExecDir_2003-9-27.pdf


John Wilson took up the role of Acting Executive Director.


The position of General Manager – Employment Services ceased in December   [14]


Presentations & Publications

THE BSL took part in a Partnerships, Community and Local Governance Symposium in conjunction with the Centre for Public Policy at the University of Melbourne, with a presentation by Sandra Hills, (then) General Manager - Aged & Community Care (19 September) [15]BSL_experience_re_Partnerships_2003-9.pdf


The 22nd Sambell Oration: Discovering soul work: my personal journey was delivered in October by Rosalind Copisarow, CEo and co-founder of Street UK Micro Finance.   [16]  Sambell_Oration_2003_Copisarow.pdf


Publications included:


Refugees and Settlement

Melbourne Youth Music created special places for young refugees to learn musical instruments at its yearly January summer school at the Victorian College of the Arts.  Supporter Loretta Little and the BSL's Ecumenical Migration Centre brought together Somali, Kurdish, Iranian, Ethiopian, Sudanese, Albanian, West African and Eritrean children aged from 8-13 to fill those places.  "It unearthed probably six to eight kids with natural musical ability" (Bruce Worland, the Melbourne Youth Music Director). [17]  Refugee_children_&_Melbourne_Youth_Music_in_BBL_Summer_2003.pdf

Number of visitors to this page: 


  1. Media release from Dr Brendan Nelson, Australian Government Minister for Education, Science & Training, announcing the project funding in March 2002: "Brotherhood of St Laurence (Frankston) - The project will develop a model to empower and inform parents about the education system and potential career pathways in order for them to direct and discuss career and transition opportunities with their children. A Parents Support Group will be established to assist and work with the Career and Transition adviser in initiatives such as 'Parents Training Other Parents', conducting seminars and workshops for parents, parent information nights, etc... The pilot will work in partnership with existing providers to enhance career and transition information, advice, guidance and planning. It will achieve this through service provision to parents and professional development to teachers. It incorporates a collaborative approach, which enhances current initiatives such as Managed Individual Pathways program and Local Learning and Employment Network." (See also the Anglicare Australia State of the Family Report 2004 - Missing out: Youth in Australia today, pp.25-26 at http://www.anglicare.asn.au/documents/SOTF2004.FFinal.pdf )
  2. BSL Annual Report 2003 p.18
  3. Media Release from the Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Thursday, June 12, 2003
  4. BSL Annual Report 2003 p.19. See [Community_Partnerships_Program_Evaluation_2003-11.pdf]. Second-year Monash medical students undertook voluntary work with four community service organisations under a new Community Partnerships Program. The program, the first of its kind in Australia, saw students working on projects at Anglicare, the Brotherhood of St Laurence, Melbourne Citymission and Wesley Mission Melbourne.
  5. "Credit where credit’s due", Building Better Lives No.10, Winter 2002 p.5; BSL Annual Report 2003 p.8
  6. Email to BSL staff from Dianne Mackintosh & the Fundraising Team 4 July 2003
  7. BSL Annual Report 2003 p.15; Victorian Department of Human Services Annual Report 2002-2003 p.98.
  8. Sandra Hills, Presentation to Centre for Public Policy/BSL Forum, "Partnerships with Government and Lessons from the Brotherhood of St Laurence Perspective", 19 September 2003 [BSL_experience_re_Partnerships_2003-9.pdf]
  9. See 2002 for more detail on this appointment
  10. [CS&HITB_Nomination_Joanna_Dimopoulos_2003.pdf] Joanna Dimopoulos left the BSL on 30 June 2003.
  11. “Supporters Survey” Building Better Lives No.11, Summer 2003 p.6
  12. The projects presented for support over the first year (2003-2004) were: Islamic Catering, Banksia Consulting, Mothercarers, Furniture Removals, Cottage (Fitzroy), HIPPY Newsletter, Yappera YPA, Financial Literacy, Tucker's Catering, Given the Chance, Arts Research, JPET Youth Media, Somali Songs, Cleaning Enterprise, Eden Alternative, Carrum Job Creation, Socialisation Program, Furniture Works, Philips Gate Partnership, Hunter Gatherer, Campaign Manual, Bridgewater News, The Torch Project, Hard Waste Recycle, Food Coop.
  13. email from Nic Frances, Executive Director (2 July 2003) New General Manager: I am pleased to welcome Caterina De Nino to the Executive team as General Manager of Finance and Administration. Caterina will take over all finance and administration responsibilities, including Property Services. Reshaping the BSL: Two years ago the BSL moved to an executive model with five General Managers sharing direct and shared services within their portfolios. The aim of this was to enhance both the development and quality of major service activities in streams, and collective responsibility for organisational systems and development to strengthen our sense of the BSL as one organisation. This significant change process has been very successful thanks to the General Managers' efforts, although it placed considerable demands on them. In December an Executive SWOT analysis of the BSL highlighted key issues that must be addressed if we are to maximise our organisational potential. In summary these are to: Close the 'integrity gap' between our rhetoric and our delivery Release the Executive team to lead the delivery of key services and projects Develop the capacity of the current management team Generally develop the innovation, enterprise and advocacy skills and awareness of all staff Be bold in our willingness to speak about our direction and activities The Board and other Executive members have agreed to make structural and other changes to enable our staff to focus on particular activities contributing to our vision and strategic direction. These take effect from today, 2 July 2003. The Executive Director will take a central line management role for all General Managers. The major emphasis of this line management focus will be to ensure and enhance our ability to achieve the strategic direction of BSL, and our commitment to it. Six General Managers will now focus either on a service delivery area or on shared services. An Executive Group made up of General Managers will meet weekly. The Executive Director will meet formally with each member at least monthly. Strategy Strategy will reside with a new strategy group consisting of the Executive Director, General Managers and other key managers (to be announced). The strategy group will meet three or four times annually for two days (residential and off-site). I hope these changes will bring renewed energy, focus and direction to our work together for an Australia free of poverty.
  14. Innovation Hub minutes, December 2003
  15. See http://www.public-policy.unimelb.edu.au/events/partnerships.html and [BSL_experience_re_Partnerships_2003-9.pdf]
  16. CEO and co-founder of organisation called Street UK Micro Finance, providing structured business loans, advice and support for people on low incomes in order to develop and protect businesses. She was a high flying banker with JP Morgan and Citibank but switched after discovering the Grameen bank. The success of Grameen Bank gave her the idea to change her career, setting up a micro-leading agency in the then re-developing Polish Economy.
  17. "Making sweet music for multicultural Australia", Building Better Lives, Summer 2003 p.5 [Refugee_children_&_Melbourne_Youth_Music_in_BBL_Summer_2003.pdf]

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