THIRD ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING, held on 11 NOVEMBER 2008
PRESIDENT’S REPORT by Mr Peter Whiting
As I was undertaking the preparation of this report, I could not help but be struck by the fact that the outcomes that I will outline in my following remarks, have been achieved predominantly by the generous and committed actions of volunteers, who themselves have other considerable calls on their time. I think this speaks volumes for the passion with which they have embraced the mission statement of Social Policy Connections. I commend our volunteers for their commitment and on behalf of all the members of Social Policy Connections, and extend to them our great thanks.
2008 has been a very eventful year. Social Policy Connections has developed its voice and its reach is steadily widening. Our exposure has been greatly aided by the operation of our website which after considerable planning and effort, became operational during the year. Through its editorials, articles and member submissions, it has conveyed a very professional and relevant message. This public voice has also been lifted by a return to organising public addresses by notable speakers, as we did in 2007 with the “Re-forging Australia’s Future” series. Our website carries details of the address by Rev Joel Edwards covering the Micah Challenge and the U.N. Millennium Goals and following the AGM, we have Dr Hilary Martin OP giving an address on the Intervention in N.T.
The move to Yarra Theological Union (YTU) in August has provided Social Policy Connections with access to some fine facilities as you see around us this evening. However, the relocation is indicative of much more. The collaborative arrangement with YTU by which the Yarra Institute for Religion and Social Policy has been set up, is an important step in providing from its research capability, sound analysis and relevant recommendations, the means to better inform the public voice of Social Policy Connections. The first research piece is already underway with Dr Joan Daw investigating the factors associated with the engagement of youth in social justice activities.
These achievements, as you will see from the financial accounts which our Treasurer, Mr Frank Webber will shortly table, have been funded from a number of donations and I would like to thank those individuals and organisations who have supported us for their encouragement and generosity. Funding remains a great challenge and it is obvious that in 2009, if we are to see both SPC and the Yarra Institute prosper, much will need to be done on the fund-raising front.
Much of SPC’s endeavour in 2008 has been committed to the establishment of the Yarra Institute. With this now largely done, we will need to focus in 2009 on building up the level of content behind the matters under our address. Our focus will be on the ethical dimension of our world economic system and developing a coherent and relevant message about how it should be reformed, particularly with the hindsight provided by the current spectacular shortcomings that are currently under display. Our Christian social tradition has much to offer the contemporary debate. Our task will be to become a voice in articulating clearly and effectively what we have to offer. We also intend to focus on the social and equity issues arising from the implications of climate change. These are significant topics, and the SPC aim is to facilitate groups of interested and informed individuals to develop our thinking and to prepare publications, reports and policy recommendations.
As you can doubtless recognise from my remarks, whilst the Board of SPC is satisfied with many of the achievements of 2008, it recognises only too well, that 2009 brings with it considerable challenge as well as opportunity. Members can be confident that the Board will provide opportunities for your involvement as we move into 2009!