12th Assembly 2009

Frontier Services Q&A

Frontier Services was grateful for the affirmation of our work and of our report, as expressed by the Community Working Groups.

1. The report would have been better presented with sub-headings. It was difficult to read, but the use of liturgy was valued.

We will ensure that the format is appropriate for reporting to the 13th Assembly. Unfortunately the liturgy was intended to provide headings or paragraphs and was originally formatted in italics, but was standardised to conform to the Assembly reporting format.

2. Can the recent Landline episode be made widely available? You should be proud of it!

A link to the recent  Landline program will be made available on the Frontier Services website. Distribution more widely would require copyright permission from the ABC.

3. How has Frontier Services utilised new technology?

Frontier Services has been able to make extensive use of new technology. Some three years ago, once access to the internet was available to more than half our sites, we took the decision to role the internet out nationally, using satellite technology as necessary.

Now all of our common documents, policy, procedures and networking tools are available on “The Shed” which has replaced our intranet.

Almost all of our systems support is internet based, including our accounting system – Sunsystems; our HR and payroll suite – Timeteq, Talent2 and Employee Connect; our aged care records and interactive document system – SARAH; and our fundraising systems – ThankQ.

We use Telstra BigPond Bush phones and have our own BigPond email network. All our new nurse call and fire response systems are wireless.

Frontier Services accesses new technologies as they become available and once proven for application in remote areas.

4. Please outline more detail on finances.

Details in relation to Frontier Services finances are provided in detail in the Annual Report which can be provided in hard copy on request and will be made available on the Frontier Services website.

5. Recruitment and training for Ministers for Patrol ministry such as Pastors.

Frontier Services, as a national agency, works within the polity of the Uniting Church and recruits suitably gifted and skilled people from the pool available within the Church. Orientation and supervision and ongoing education are then provided for those in patrol placements.

6. We commend your work with Indigenous communities, advocacy, etc.

Frontier Services is privileged to work in partnership with indigenous communities but acutely aware of the need to empower rather than to envisage a continuing service provision role – concentrating instead on training and resourcing.

7. Re B10.5 - inadequate aged care funding - how to respond?

Agencies nationwide are struggling with the issue of inadequate funding for aged care. Frontier Services continues to make representations to the Australian Government and to the Minister in relation to our own particular challenges.

We participate in the advocacy of UnitingCare Australia through the Aged Care Network and in Aged and Community Services Australia, both nationally and regionally. Executive and senior staff are members of a number of the Minister’s advisory committees.

It is unquestionable that the funding subsidy available for each individual requiring residential aged acre is simply inadequate to meet the increasing cost of its provision – particularly staffing costs. We will welcome any resolution of the Assembly calling on the government to adequately address that issue.

Our own challenges are greater, given the size of services in small communities and the additional costs associated with service delivery in remote communities – particularly the costs of accommodation and travel. We are assisted in some small degree by the Northern Territory and Western Australian governments and by Aboriginal Hostels and we continue to bring the realities of viable service continuation before these funding bodies.

Answers provided by Rosemary Young, National Director Frontier Services.