Australian War Widows (Queensland)

 
 

Year In Review


At the Annual General Meeting in August I will cease my term as your State President after three thoroughly enjoyable years of representing you on behalf of this wonderful organisation.

It has been a time of considerable effort by many including the State Councillors, Vasey Housing Board members, sub branch and social club executive and many of you who are on committees and, quietly but most importantly, provide support to ensure the smooth functioning of the Guild. Without you, we would not be able to provide the fellowship, care and support of our members throughout Queensland.  To you all I express my sincere gratitude for your commitment to the Guild and from a personal perspective, for your friendship and support during my term in office.

This Year in Review covers some of the significant events and issues that have been addressed for the  past year.

We have some challenging and exciting times ahead as we endeavour to implement change to prepare for the future. To this end you will appreciate from the information contained in the March Bulletin the Futures Committee has been progressing the development of a strategic plan to ensure the Guild remains relevant, progressive and continues to meet the changing needs of our members at a time when our membership is ageing and Governments of the day take every opportunity to pare away members’ benefits which the Guild has fought hard to obtain and maintain over many years.

Subsequently at the recent Extraordinary General Meeting members overwhelmingly approved the initial proposals that will see the Guild and The Queensland Vasey Housing Auxiliary merge, a change of the business name to Australian War Widows (Queensland) Ltd and establishing an Interim Board for up to 12 months to oversee the completion of a new Constitution and implementation of the strategic plan.

The Futures Committee has devoted considerable time to developing the plan to take the Guild forward and is to be commended for their efforts.

The year has again been full of excitement, challenges and opportunity to meet so many members as I have moved around this state. I have also had the great pleasure and pride in representing the Guild at many functions, events and wreath laying services as well meetings with DVA officials and other ex-service organisations.

At the end of 2015 the Guild office relocated to Legacy House South Brisbane which is proving ideal for a number of reasons including its very accessible location.  We have been most warmly welcomed and assisted by Legacy and, the office within the Legacy building exposes  us to many war widows who previously were not members.

The Vasey Board commitment to provide additional funding to the Guild to assist it expand our welfare support services has enable our Community Services Officer to undertake more visits to members and families in the home. This follows the increasing number of members now unable to attend meetings or live in areas where the Guild does not have sub branch representation. This direct assistance is seen as a positive move to ensure our members continue to feel part of the Guild and reinforces “we all belong to each other”.

With increasing age sadly we are losing members but we continue to encourage the many younger (Vietnam and more recent ) war widows to join the Guild through special “get together events” promoted and advertised in local press in various areas of the state. This and the War Widows’ page in Vetaffairs have had positive responses.

 VICE REGAL PATRONAGE

His Excellency the honourable Paul de Jersey  AC, the Governor of Queensland, and Patron to the Guild hosted various events at Government House to which we were able to represent the Guild.  His Excellency and Mrs de Jersey also graced us with their presence  at the  Friendship Day which was a highlight and much appreciated by all who attended.

NATIONAL GUILD

National President Mrs Meg Green, who also is the State President for NSW, has been working tirelessly, attending numerous forums and committees as well representing the Guild nationally at formal events and wreath laying ceremonies.  

The 2015 National Council meeting was held in Melbourne.  The Agenda included reviewing the Guild’s future nationally and this was followed up with a special Council meeting in March this year to progress the discussion.  Queensland was represented by Jenny Gregory and Judith Walters both of whom sit on the Queensland Futures Committee and are well versed in the issues associated with change management. Helen Strange in her capacity as National Deputy President also attended.

The National Guild bid farewell to the National Secretary Jan Ormerod after nearly 17 years with the Guild.

SUB-BRANCHES & SOCIAL GROUPS      

The executives of our sub-branches do an outstanding job as do the coordinators of the social clubs in maintaining the interests of the members, with most actively engaging them in excursions and programmes that provide the opportunity to meet regularly and enjoy social interaction.

It is appreciated that the numbers of members willing to undertake the executive roles are diminishing each year thus placing an even greater onus on existing executives to continue.  This is causing some sub branches to consider converting to social clubs which may prove to be the way forward.

It is always a pleasure to attend the various sub-branch Annual General Meetings and I am most appreciative of those groups which change their meeting dates to accommodate my very hectic travel schedule in attending these important occasions.  My thanks too to those members who kindly go out of their way to collect me from airports or railway stations.

GUILD SERVICES

Community Services

During the year Ann visited …. sub-branches, social clubs and remote areas to address over …. members and discuss members’ needs and how the Guild can assist them.  Also as mentioned previously she also visited …. members in their homes, hospitals, residential care or place of residence, including many in areas surrounding our regional sub-branches, to call on those unable to attend the meetings. Additionally, Ann and the staff responded to many hundreds of phone calls on matters associated with members’ welfare. The work done by Ann and her assistant Kaitlin is a most important element of the Guild’s welfare programme and as a response to the changes agreed to at the EGM will be expanded significantly in the future.

GRANTS:

The Anzac Day Trust again assisted the Guild in undertaking important welfare support efforts for our members, with a generous grant to offset many of the costs associated with these programmes.  On behalf of the Guild I sincerely thank the Anzac Day Trust for the ongoing assistance they provide. We too are grateful to the Brisbane City Council for its financial assistance by way of a celebration donation to assist with our Christmas Party arrangements.

ACTIVITIES

PICNIC IN THE PARK:

The many members who attend this annual event in Brisbane’s Roma Street Parkland are thoroughly spoilt by the Guild’s staff who of their own initiative undertake all the preparation and waiting on members. Our 2015 event (held to coincide with Melbourne’s Oaks Day race meeting) was themed “Leilani Day” to reflect the Hawaiian  meaning  “heavenly garland of flowers” and of the very successful racehorse “Leilani”.

Attendees were given a racebook form guide for the “State Council Oaks” where Council members became the “phantom” runners in a race to mirror the events taking place at the Oaks day race meeting in  Melbourne.

The food and attention provided by the staff were first class and members were able to enjoy the lovely surrounds and opportunity of meeting other members many who attended from a number of sub-branches and social clubs both near and far. Our special thanks go to Executive Officer Robert and his staff for the splendid work they did for us not only on this day but all occasions.

CHRISTMAS PARTY:

The Guild’s Christmas party held at the Tattersall’s Club Brisbane was again a resounding success and attended by 175 members who were superbly entertained by the Pro Musica Choir. As usual the Events Committee did a wonderful job in making this event a memorable occasion for all who attended.

FILM DAYS IN THE OFFICE:

Following the office relocation we have re-introduced film days in the office. Attendances are currently not as strong as in the past but we anticipate this will grow as members become accustomed to the new office location.

 ANNUAL FRIENDSHIP DAY:

Friendship Day 2015 was hosted by the State Council Events Committee at the Kedron-Wavell services Club and what a wonderful job the Committee did.  The event was emceed by Kay McGrath of Channel 7 and who did an outstanding job as well as mingling and being photographed with members.  The room was beautifully presented, there were plenty of raffle prizes and as mentioned previously we were honoured to have our Patron, His Excellency the honourable Paul de Jersey and Mrs de Jersey  in attendance and address the gathering. 

I particularly wish to thank the Events Committee and staff member Rachel for their efforts with the preparations and, on the day. The assistance and service provided by the Kedron-Wavell Services Club was also appreciated and contributed greatly to the success of the day.

 BULLETIN:

The Guild’s Bulletin magazine is a very informative publication produced by staff member Elodie who has used her graphic design skills to produce a more expansive, crafted and colourful magazine for members.  It is the connection between the Guild office and our members and based on the wonderful responses received, is very much appreciated and well read by the membership. Those members with sight impairment are able to receive their “Bulletin” on CD at no cost to them. We are most grateful to our printers Clark & Mackay which has had an association with the Guild for over 33 years for the assistance provided in producing the magazine.

APPRECIATION

The current Board of Directors of the Queensland Vasey Housing Auxiliary Board includes five war widows and four non war widow directors, namely Messrs. Steven Blinkhorn, Andrew Roe, Peter Eardley and the Chairman, Stephen Scott.

The Directors, particularly our non war widows Board members provide significant experience to the decision making which at all times is in the best interests of the company and indirectly the Guild’s members, especially the tenants.  On your behalf I convey the Guild’s grateful thanks to each of them for their considerable input to the successful governance of the company and for giving so generously of their time. 

Guild members and indeed all war widows very much rely on the advice and assistance received from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs. To the Deputy Commissioner Ms. Jiill Simpson and officers of the Queensland Department I thank them for the outstanding service provided to our members and their willingness to meet and discuss our issues.

The Guild is very fortunate to have so many dedicated volunteers who take an active interest in its affairs. Among these are the State executive and Council members and on behalf of all members I thank them for their conscientious approach, commitment and participation in the decision making processes that affirms the aims and objectives of the Guild.

Additionally, the Guild has a team of conscientious staff members whose efforts in the office and their understanding of and assistance provided to members’ are much appreciated. To Executive officer Robert, Financial Officer Julie and the rest of the team I thank them most sincerely on behalf of all members.

Lastly I would like to thank each and every member. It is imperative member support is maintained and grown otherwise the Guild will not have the strength of numbers to successfully lobby governments on your behalf and achieve changes that make a positive difference to the lives and wellbeing of our members.

 

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