President’s Annual Report for 2016
By the President: Ellis B J Wayland AM RFD ED
This is the twenty second, and the final, President’s Report by Ellis Wayland as he will be retiring from the Board as its Chairman at the Annual General Meeting to be held on 25th May 2017.
Ellis is the founding President of the SOS Australian Association and has served continuously in that role for twenty two years.
Chairman - Ellis J Wayland AM RFD ED
Ellis has enjoyed a dual career in the Finance and Banking Industry and in the Australian Army. He was a senior Regional Manager for Associated Midland Corporation (Midland Bank UK) in which he served for 23 years. After 34 years of continuous service he retired from the Australian Army Reserve in the rank of Brigadier, commanding the 9th Brigade (all Arms and Services in South Australia and Tasmania). He has been a Director of companies in South Australia, NSW and Tasmania. He has a history of public involvement in Local Government and government committees, and has been honoured as a Member of the Order of Australia for his services to the community. He has also been awarded the Reserve Forces Decoration (RFD) with two bars and the Citizen’s Military Forces Decoration (ED) with bar.
In my last annual report to members I specified our objectives for 2016 as being (in summary):
- To continue to upgrade our properties, and to expand their facilities, at our Clayton Bay children’s camp (CBC)
- To strengthen and support our partnership with the Puddle Jumpers organisation, recognising our mutual mission for disadvantaged children separated from their birth families
- To sustain and reinforce our advocacy program for the reform of child protection policies and practices in all states.
In the pursuit of these objectives I am pleased to report that 2016 has been another successful, and operationally exciting, year, viz:
In June we attended an auction at the Greenhill adventure camp which, as a result of its closure, auctioned an extensive range of their equipment which we recognised as being ideal for our Clayton Bay Camp. As a result we were able to purchase six three person canoes; eleven heavy timber picnic table with galvanised steel legs; a large steel boat trailer; and five paddle boats as well as valuable kitchen equipment. These purchases have manifestly enhanced the operational capability of our camp at a very advantageous cost.
Puddle Jumpers Inc:
Our relationship with Paddle Jumpers Inc (PJ) has continued to consolidate since their association with us started in 2012. The symbiosis is founded on our mutual mission for children traumatised by their separation from their birth parents, whereby PJ (with their five hundred strong team of young volunteer mentors) coordinate, manage, and operate our children’s camps, with SOS providing the camp infrastructure and its amenities. Each of the five camps run during the year was oversubscribed, validating the reality that demand for our camp programs is increasing exponentially as government and community childcare agencies recognise the value and success of our programs.
In its short history of only five years, PJ has experience a growth which can only be described as extraordinary. Supporters on their Facebook page were recently recorded at 15,600 with ‘hits’ in excess of 30,000. This success is directly attributable to the PJ Founder and CEO, Melanie Tate, whose professional skills and leadership qualities are such that she has the capacity to capture community support on this scale. However, her essential skill has been the enlistment and training of more than 500 young volunteers to serve as mentors at our children’s camps. In this report, she deserves, and receives my sincere gratitude for her support of our Association.
Sadly, Australia’s appalling record of child abuse continues with no sign of improvement despite hundreds of strident demands for reform of existing child protection policies and practices. The statistics are damning:
- In 2010, there were 24 homicides of children under 15. Six infants younger than 12 months were murdered. Between 2010 and 2012, according to the Australian Institute of Criminology, there were 61 murders of children, of which 34 were directly attributed to a parent or step-parent.
- Despite officialdom’s extreme reluctance to remove children from a dysfunctional parent and abusive home, there are now 43,000 children in out-of-home care. Such a failure sows the seeds for a continuance of these child homicides. The number of children in care has more than doubled since 1990.
- Despite the rising numbers of children who need a stable and loving home, the number of adoptions is at a record low. Just 278 children were adopted in Australia last year. That’s a near fourfold fall in the quarter century since 1992 when there were 1052 adoptions.
Our book - "The Madness of Australian Child Protection*" - argued that one essential solution is to ensure that these children are adopted into a loving and caring traditional family. I unashamedly emphasise traditional family even though the usage of such a term will probably be labeled as being not politically correct. In the United States there are more than 50,000 adoptions annually. If children were adopted here at the same rate, we would have about 5,000 adoptions a year. This shows the scale of the aversion of the bureaucrats and politicians to giving children stable, rather than dysfunctional, homes. The essential ethos of SOS International is that no child can enjoy a safe and secure childhood without a mother and, despite the current political and ideological arguments to the contrary, SOS stands resolutely by this fundamental tenet.
It is beyond comprehension that after two decades, with a total of 40 Royal Commissions, judicial enquiries, and parliamentary committees of enquiry and their resulting 5,000 plus recommendations, that the glaringly obvious deduction has never been accepted or even mentioned: (paraphrasing Ronald Reagan) – “The bureaucracy is not the solution to the problem – the bureaucracy is the problem.”
The unrecognised but obvious defect with all of these commissions of enquiry is that they are premised on a fundamental flaw i.e. – “that the socialist ideological myth that every human problem can be solved by a government bureaucracy fed by an exponential stream of ever increasing funding is the essential and unarguable orthodoxie.” (Media article)
Members can be assured that our Association will resolutely continue our advocacy program for essential reforms to childcare policies and practices in Australia.
Included with this report are our audited 2016 annual accounts and a copy of the auditor’s report. Our Association’s finances are healthy. The Association’s funds increased from $3,420,136 in 2015 to $3,601,745 and our administration expenses were reduced from $79,455 in 2015 to $68,285. Our Treasurer, Christopher Miller, will table his full set of annual accounts for 2016 together with the Auditor’s Report at the Annual General Meeting on 25 May 2017.
As your President I would like to make the observation that I, and your management committee (‘Board’), continues to be sensitive to the reality that our mission for children has always been constrained by financial resources which have been almost entirely dependent on the income earned from the investment of our corpus. Prudent and conservative management of these investments has been the responsibility of our investment subcommittee (the President, Treasurer, and our investment advisers Knightsbridge Wealth Management Pty Ltd). All of their deliberations have, however, been reviewed and sanctioned by the Board.
Nevertheless, in the years to come we will need to focus more specifically on increasing grants and corporate and community fundraising so as to expand our operating funding base. Accordingly, our forward planning for 2017 will be implementing changes to our management team to specifically pursue this objective.
Clayton Bay Camp (CBC)
We are now increasingly aware of the value of our camp on the banks of Lake Alexandrina at Clayton Bay in that its panoramic views of the lake and more particularly its relative isolation and resultant security make it, arguably, unique as a children’s camp nationally.
During the year we applied for a government grant of $100,000 to replace the old jetty which, for safety reasons, was demolished. The application amount included a provision for the construction of a paved roadway from the camp buildings to the jetty so that disabled children in wheel chairs can more readily access the lake..
Our PJ teams continue to tailor our camp programs for:
- Traumatised children separated from their birth parents
- Reunions for children separated from their siblings
- Children in the permanent care of their grandparents
- Disabled children
Due to the drive and initiatives of the PJ Founder and CEO, Melanie Tate, the recognition and reputation of these programs continue to be enhanced. Accordingly, it is not surprising that applications for children to attend our camps always exceed capacity – even though accommodation now often has to include some children and mentors sleeping in tents.
SOS Kinderdorf International (Kdi)
In past reports I have cited Kdi’s founder, Hermann Gmeiner’s exhortation: “A global welfare network like SOS Children’s Villages can only remain alive and dynamic if a continuous effort is made to respond to changing conditions in the society involved and to accept new challenges in the interest of the welfare of the children.”
This is a demanding and exciting challenge in a world changing at an almost bewildering pace. We are indeed fortunate to have Mr Thomas Bauer, a Kdi executive based in Innsbruck, on our Board so that we are always fully informed of SOS worldwide activities and the future plans for our international programs. In this report it is important that I acknowledge his valuable contribution to the Board of SOS Australia.
Future Planning for 2017 and Beyond
This Annual Report to members is my twenty second report as your President and, in that context, I have decided that it is time for me to pass the Presidents’ baton to a successor at the Annual General Meeting to be held on 25 May 2017. Accordingly, at this meeting I will have the pleasure of nominating Mr Christopher Miller, our current Treasurer, as my successor. Mr Miller is uniquely qualified to take on the role of President and to chair your Board. He has given the Board the benefit of his services as an experienced corporate financial director and management consultant for the past thirteen years and I can, therefore, assert with confidence that he is uniquely qualified to perform the role of President and to take our association forward to meet its future obligations and challenges. I sincerely hope that my nomination will be endorsed by members at our imminent Annual General Meeting.
It has been my privilege to be your foundation President in what has been for me personally a fascinating and rewarding journey. This journey started in 1995 at the inaugural meeting of members of SOS Australia at which I was elected as the founding President and Board Chairman. The subsequent twenty-two years have pulsed through periods of despair when our Seaford Rise Village was forced to close, to elation with the phoenix like emergence of our Clayton Bay Camp. Perhaps I can be excused for a little indulgence in expressing my sense of personal fulfillment with the establishment of CBC having spent two years trying to identify a site for a new ‘village’, negotiated its acquisition, developed its amenity, and finally witnessing the joy of the first children to occupy it.
During the whole of my presidency I have been fortunate indeed to have enjoyed the confidence and support of the members of the Boards which you have elected from time to time. However, my special thanks are due to current Board members and particularly Christopher Miller, Pamela Casagrande and Michael Manetta who have served on the Board for more than a decade, thereby ensuring stability and continuity. Not to be forgotten I welcome our newest Board member, Mr Peter Whatson, who is also a Board member of Puddle Jumpers thereby providing a synergy to both organisations for the future years
I also record my thanks to the members of our association, several of whom have maintained their membership for more than fifteen years. Your loyalty is an essential component of our mission for children in need in Australia.
I depart from SOS Australia with an acute sense of nostalgia but with a certainty that SOS Australia will continue to thrive, expand, fight and deliver for the protection and succour of Australian children in need.
* Commissioned and funded by our Association in 2015 and written by Dr Jeremy Sammut of the Centre for Independent Studies .