Future Ready

Ensuring programmes are effective and sustainable

With the closure of residential services for women and girls in the 1970s in Australia, other province ministries developed:  

  • Good Shepherd Youth & Family Service, Victoria

  • Rosemount Good Shepherd Youth & Family Services, Sydney

  • St Clare’s School, Perth

  • Good Shepherd Microfinance

  • Good Shepherd Trading Circle

  • Good Shepherd Aged Services, Melbourne

Recognizing their ongoing diminishment in leadership capacity, in 2008 the Sisters set up a new organization and named it: Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand.  This reshaped the governance structure of the Province, enabling the sustainability and development of Good Shepherd ministries into the future, beyond the capacity of the Sisters to provide high level leadership. 

Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand was established for the sole purpose of providing a governance framework for the apostolic works of the province, as well as ensuring a strong and sustainable foundation for future initiatives.

It owns the major assets of the province and governs current Good Shepherd programmes in areas of welfare, education and financial inclusion.

Now, after two years of thinking, planning and implementing the Future Ready process, we have merged three organisations to work as one - Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand now incorporates Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service and Rosemount.  This has been a significant achievement of the Sisters' Leadership Team, the Boards and senior staff working together in partnership. 

Dr Rhonda Cumberland was Chief Executive Officer of Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand 2009-2015. Rhonda described how the substantial review of operations over recent years facilitates our response to the needs of women and girls.

The Challenges

Future Ready is about ensuring Good Shepherd works as one in Australia and New Zealand to support disadvantaged women and girls.  It recognizes changes within Good Shepherd and beyond Good Shepherd.  We have reviewed the areas of governance, strategy, management and structure.   We have stopped providing some programmes in order to start new services, in new locations, with new activities and aims. 

We have developed a shared understanding of the cycle of disadvantage for women and girls.  This framework outlines the challenges for each woman under three headings:

  • Education.

  • Safety at home.

  • Access to credit and finance.

When any one of these, education, safety or finance, is denied or is not accessible, women fall behind and equality is unachievable.   In Australia, this can mean that young girls today will live less healthy and less productive lives than their mothers.

What did Good Shepherd do?

Good Shepherd has reviewed every part of its operations to ensure that our purpose is to disrupt this cycle of disadvantage. 

Our vision is creating an emotionally, economically and physically safe world for women and girls.   

Who manages/administers the programme? 

Future Ready is managed by mission partners, with sisters providing advice and leadership.  We describe our way of working as co responsibility.  To us this means working as one team with sisters and mission partners focussed on continuing the mission, keeping it vibrant and relevant. 

Who is the major target group?

The major target group is disadvantaged women and girls in Australia.  Girls are three times more likely than boys to drop out of school, leaving with inadequate knowledge and skills for life and work. 

Who benefits and how do they benefit?

We subscribe to the idea that when girls benefit all of society benefits.  Women and girls will benefit from Good Shepherd programmes and services by staying at school longer, by being assessed for safety at the home and by accessing microfinance programs to help them achieve their goals. 

How many people are assisted?

We are not able at this time to measure the number of women and girls who will benefit.  This is a weakness of our past system.  We aim to improve our measuring capacity over the next year.  It is important to note our programmes will operate throughout Australia and will be provided in partnership with government, and other non-government agencies. 

Motivation and core values 

One of the best parts of the Future Ready review was a workshop we held with Good Shepherd leaders to identify the core characteristics of Mary Euphrasia. 

We used these characteristics to guide our strategy, our service focus areas, our research and desire for innovation.  We identified the following characteristics of Mary Euphrasia that are needed in the world today:

  • Taking risks and innovating

  • Valuing practicality

  • Focusing on the individual

  • Building quality relationships with each other

  • Challenging injustice

  • Adapting and being audacious. 

How does this project work towards promoting this priority area?

The advantages of reviewing our services and organisation are many but none more so than new opportunities for promotion and communications.  

We will promote our work through our website, media articles, research projects, publications and marketing.  

We have a succinct message and focus, and we know where our work will be most effective.  This is the key to promotions, more than the methods by which organisations can promote and market themselves. 

How is the programme evaluated?

Our measures will focus on

  • Number of years girls are at school longer

  • Number of women returning to training and learning

  • Numbers of women who repay microfinance loans

  • Number of women assessed for family violence.

 For Good Shepherd, we will measure our effectiveness by remaining financially sustainable, achieving a high impact, integrating our services and practicing innovation.      

How does it contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goals?

We welcome contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals by working for equality for women and girls.  The most powerful obstacle to eradicating poverty today is women’s inequality.  Western societies are faced with new types of poverty, not just the material kind.  

Our challenge is to increase women’s economic mobility and to ensure that women can witness a better life for their daughters and granddaughters.   

Challenges

The critical challenges are:

  • Adequate resources

  • Capabilities and abilities of staff

  • Successful promotions

  • Increasing demands on organisational leaders

  • Being open to change and doing things differently

  • Tension between managerial compliance and holding true to values and mission

What would make the project more effective?

  • Working together

  • Valuing strengths

  • More evidence of what works and doesn’t work

  • Compassionate government.