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Noah's Ark Annual Report 2022

19 Dec 2022

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Who we are, what we do

Noah’s Ark celebrated its 50th birthday in 2021, an important milestone in working with families to help build better futures for children with disabilities. We are a not-for-profit community organisation based in Victoria, the ACT, NSW, and a Registered NDIS Provider. Our range of services and programs have been developed by industry professionals and specialists to support families who have a child with a disability or additional needs (aged 0 – 12).

We work closely with children and their families, with a focus on the services they use and the activities they participate in. We provide them with the very best information and support, enabling them to make informed decisions and meet their goals. We have grown to now employ more than 350 staff. We work with over 3500 families across Victoria, NSW and the ACT through the NDIS. We also run programs such as Kindergarten Inclusion Support, P2P and C4C.

In addition to providing training for early childhood professionals, we participate in sector events and lead policy and research nationally and internationally. The results of this work speak for themselves. The Canadian Occupation Performance Measure indicated that almost all families reported an improvement in their child’s performance against the goals identified in their Family Service Support Plan.

Celebrating 50+ years

In 2021, Noah’s Ark celebrated its 50th Anniversary. In 1971, our founders, Annetine Forell and Mary Glue started the Noah’s Ark Toy Library at the Caulfield Library. The name Noah’s Ark simply came from the idea that “Everyone is welcome.”

Celebrating a 50th anniversary is a huge milestone for any organisation. In 2022, we finally saw the completion of a history film which reflects on the achievements of the past five decades and was many years in the making in the lead up to this celebration. The film features interviews with Noah’s Ark founders as well as staff and families who have witnessed the many changes and made an important contribution to the organisation over the years.

The film looks back at how far we’ve come from our roots as a toy library and the parents who saw the need for a change in attitudes of the time and the clinical-based approach to early intervention, to the current day where an inclusive and supportive environment welcomes children with additional needs and their families into Noah’s Ark.

From the very early days, a mobile workforce of therapists travelled to families both in the cities and regional areas and met with them in the natural environment of the home. Noah’s Ark has continuously evolved, adjusting into the NDIS environment and even more recently adapting to changing conditions with the pandemic meaning a move to an even more flexible and modern way of working. Noah’s Ark now has dozens of locations across Victoria, NSW and the ACT, helping thousands of families each year through telehealth and face-to-face services.

A special thanks to all the staff who generously gave their time and perspectives for the film as well as Mark Street who created the film over many months, not only conducting interviews but having the huge task of editing archival footage and capturing resources to feature in the film. 

The film is showcased on Our Story

Strategic Plan 2021-2024

View our Organisational Compass and Strategic Plan

Our Strategic Projects - Commitment to Continuous Improvement

Project 1: Leadership Project

This project will clearly articulate the concept of and expectations for leadership across Noah’s Ark and will include specific approaches to support connection and leadership across the Team Leader group. This project will include clear expectations for check-in with staff, facilitation of team meetings and style of leadership, and lead to a shared understanding of measures of success. The Project Leader for this project is Lauren Falconer Operations Manager Southern Eastern Group.

The Leadership project will:

  • Define leadership the Noah’s Ark way and implement a menu of tools, resources, and supports so that leaders engage their teams to achieve a defined set of outcomes.
  • Introduce a core training and support package for leaders across the organisation, commencing at the two-day leadership away in October 2021.
  • Commence a shift in focus across the organisation to measuring outcomes, with a menu of tools and resources to choose from to achieve them.
Progress

The Leadership project has continued to build a comprehensive program of learning and outcome measures across the organisation. The project in quarter 2022 is focusing on building a holistic structure covering Team Leaders, Coaches, and Mentors. The work being undertaken links the learning and performance structures to organisational outcome measures that address service quality and sustainability. Works completed include:

  • Leadership compass
  • Leadership outcome measures
  • Leadership career pathway
  • Leadership learning and development strategy
  • Coach and mentor outcome measures
  • Coach and mentor career pathway
  • Team Leader Mentee program
Strategic Plan Outcomes this Project addresses
  • Noah’s Ark employee satisfaction and retention is higher than the industry benchmark.
  • Noah’s Ark Team Leaders have the skills and confidence they need to lead the organisation.
  • Noah’s Ark introduces a redesigned system of professional learning and career development with involvement from, and which is highly valued by, staff.

Project 2: Flexible Service Delivery

Noah's Ark service to families has predominantly been face-to-face (F2F) with attempts to introduce “virtual visits” over many years. When COVID-19 impacted service delivery options in 2020, all services were delivered virtually using various telehealth technologies during lockdowns. The aim of this project is to identify these practices and apply them consistently and help guide clients and staff understand the best mix of telehealth and F2F in its various forms. The project is not trying to address telehealth in a lockdown, but to focus on providing a flexible service to families under normal, or near to normal, operating conditions. The project Leader for this project is Michelle Kenny Operations Manager Norther Western Region.

The project will deliver:

  1. A clear decision tree and evidence-based processes for when to use F2F and / or telehealth services be those, videoconferencing, telephone, or SMS.
  2. Deliver easily accessible information to enable keyworkers to be confident that the services they are delivering are based on clear evidence regardless of the platform used. The project will identify services which are recommended to be delivered:
    1. Via telehealth
    2. F2F only
    3. A combination of telehealth and F2F
  3. Noah’s Ark Keyworkers have the required knowledge and training to seamlessly work with families across different service modalities, and in a consistent manner. They will have the confidence to have the conversation with families and provide options which will increase the value of service in terms of outcomes and effectively using the available funding.
  4. Update existing processes and information sources for staff and families to reflect the decision tree and flexible service support.
Progress

The focus of the flexible service delivery project is embedding the range of flexible service offers Noah’s Ark offers including telehealth this process within the “everyday” service planning and considerations of Team Leaders and Keyworkers. The project has completed the design and consultation phase and is in the process of developing new tools and guided decision-making supports for keyworkers and Team Leaders. The project will deliver in addition to a strong communication strategy:

  • Electronic record of visit.
  • Modified Team Meeting Agenda to include a structure discussion on the delivery of flexible services. Decision trees for key flexible service delivery options under development.
Strategic Plan Outcomes this Project addresses
  • Noah’s Ark implements a hybrid model of services which is rated highly by customers and staff on defined outcomes measures.
  • Noah’s Ark is a sustainable organisation able to identify growth opportunities.
  • Customers rate accessibility of Noah’s Ark systems and process at 80% or higher (survey-based feedback).
  • Noah's Ark can accurately and effectively measure service outcomes.

Project 3: Hub Project

The HUB project's primary purpose is to develop an organisational change that establishes organisational flexibility and connection that extends beyond team and location to organisational relationship. Facilitation of this type of change is multifaceted and will be considered in phase one of the project via:

  1. Design concept – establishing pilot sites that have a design element that encourages multi-team access and connection.
  2. Consistent and fit for purpose IT and infrastructure.
  3. Communication of hub connection and relationship development with colleagues and families. This will require a deliberate and well-structured communication strategy and the engagement of organisational champions and influencers.

The overall project outcome is to build organisational consistency, connection and creativity through understanding keyworker and family need and building spaces and IT that is responsive to this and consistently applied across the organisation. This broad outcome will be delivered by:

  • Making properties accessible to all staff. This will increase organisational connection and minimise travel by making a range of spaces available to employees and families – working to the concept of closest rather than defined team boundaries.
  • Defining the essential requirements for all offices and consistently implementing these.
  • Building IT responses developed from the ground up through the use of personas to identify needs and provided options that are within budget and fit for purpose.
  • All project elements will be tested against the requirements of:
    • Being fit for purpose as defined by users
    • Able to be applied consistency
    •  Increase or support quality and efficiency in service delivery
    • Support employee and family connection
  • At the conclusion of this project employees will be provided with a consistent understanding of the spaces and equipment that support them to perform their roles, this confidence and understanding will become an embedded part of Noah’s Ark.
Progress
  • Noah’s Ark ICT strategy has been revised and a Company Owned Personally enabled approach to devise choice and management trial has been implemented with outcomes identified by March 2022.
  • Property reviewed is being conducted to differentiate the needs of the organisation briefing paper completed February 2022.
  • Communications structure for change developed and commenced.
  • Property IT infrastructure identified.
  • Employee office requirements reviewed and itemised.
  • Universal property access under review.
Strategic Plan Outcomes this Project addresses
  • Noah’s Ark introduces new models of working across home, hubs and the community which supports staff in their work.
  • Noah’s Ark refines its processes for continuous improvement and innovation and delivers 3 significant developments every year that are evaluated and reported against.
  • Children and Families and other customers highly rate Noah’s Ark’s services.
  • An ICT strategy recommends ongoing solutions for key organisational and operational outcomes.
  • Noah’s Ark is a sustainable organisation able to identify growth opportunities.

President’s Report

I congratulate staff across Noah's Ark for their continued commitment to meeting the needs of children with disabilities and their families. It continues to be a challenging time for families, children and the people in their lives who support them.

Like many organisations, we are dealing with what is perhaps the most volatile environment we have ever faced. The impacts of COVID-19, and the need to rapidly reorganise how we live and provide services, are still with us. For families raising a child with a disability, the disruption is both more complex and harder to manage. The ongoing effects of the pandemic are evident as people rethink their work priorities, in what has been called ‘the great resignation’. New challenges are emerging for families as they face the pressure of increased living costs.

Noah’s Ark also has specific challenges that arise from the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, before the pandemic. The NDIS introduced major change through its creation of a disability market. The additional funding it has made available has led to a significant increase in the demand for allied health professionals. We now face increased challenges in recruiting and training new staff so they are prepared to support families holistically and provide a quality service.

Noah’s Ark has successfully navigated the pandemic’s initial challenges. We have shifted to a mix of face-to-face and online services. The options are now part of our ongoing services and are designed to meet the specific needs of families.

Noah's Ark has also re-established an equilibrium in balancing staff working from home, visiting families and community settings and working from an office. We continue to have a highly flexible approach, letting individuals and teams decide their priorities. This approach has been supported by also being flexible in how we provide IT support.

The focus is now on the recruitment, development and retention of staff. This will be a significant challenge for organisations in our sector. An important initiative has been the introduction of coaches and mentors, notably to support new staff with joining the organisation.

Noah's Ark celebrated a significant milestone in 2021. It was the 50th anniversary of its start in 1971. The circumstances meant we were not able to celebrate this event in the way we would have otherwise. Nonetheless, it provides a significant opportunity to reflect on the commitment of the people who have been central to the organisation to advancing opportunities for children with disabilities.

Noah's Ark remains creative, innovative, and willing to act on the day’s challenges. I want to thank the management team at Noah's Ark for their willingness to respond positively and with enthusiasm to each of the new challenges in recent times. We continue to move forward with a very positive culture.

I would also like to acknowledge the critical work that Fintan Magee undertook as past President of the Noah's Ark board. I am honoured at the opportunity to accept this role as President.

At the beginning of this year, we welcomed three new board members. Dr Zoe McCallum, a paediatrician, Dr Sonia Sharp, a partner at EY, and Rahima Razaii, whose work supports families who are newly arrived in Australia. They give a significant contribution and great insights to the Board.

Vikki Morris

For details of our Board of Management, visit Our Leadership

To read further reports from our leadership team and view the annual financials, download the full 2022 Annual Report (PDF 1.4MB)

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