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Executive Officer Report 2001-2002

Executive Officer: Jane Corpuz-Brock


It is with great optimism that we look to the future. I believe that Speakout has so many dreams that would propel us through next year. On top of these dreams we have many strengths that will sustain our energy, with lessons learned to guide us to grow into a more dynamic immigrant women's organisation. The 20th anniversary of Speakout's foundation is also a great source of inspiration to all of us who have been a part of this organisation.

The socio-political and economic context in which we live at present poses challenges for Speakout to look beyond the services that we provide to our service recipients. In this light we are currently undergoing a review of our core services such as the Domestic Violence Project. It is hoped that we will be able to get useful data both from survivors and service providers in order to work more effectively. Looking at the project's rate of service provision, we can say that this is one of the most sought after services by migrant women. It is then imperative for Speakout to adapt the program to the current socio-political and economic situation of migrant women.

On the 10th of May 2002, members of the Management Committee and Staff held a pre-planning session. This is the first phase of bringing together management members and staff to build up a vision for Speakout's future. During this session, the facilitator, Linda Perinne, used a very interesting group process in which each participant used an animal symbol to describe her perspective of what Speakout is and will be. It was quite interesting to see how creative each person could be and the hopes that were expressed by all. One common reflection was the symbolism of the butterfly's cycle of life. For a significant number of staff and management committee members this cycle of life was described as the phases of growth Speakout has experienced since its foundation.

It was also emphasized that in its early years Speakout made milestone contributions to government policies concerning immigrant women. Policy development is one of the key areas of our work in the Domestic Violence Project and Immigrant Women's Resource Centre. Speakout will endeavour to reinvigorate the organisation as a key channel for migrant women to effect change through policy development. Speakout intends to undertake the second phase of planning next year with the Domestic Violence Project review results as one of our reference documents.

It is heart warming to note that Speakout has four new staff. In the Domestic Violence Program, Shahana Rasool came on board in June 2002 as Policy Officer and myself Jane Corpuz-Brock in April 2002 as Project Officer. Soraia Rocha e Sousa, our Temporary Protection Visa Project Officer, started in September 2002. Zulekha Nazir started as Family Support Project Officer in October 2002. With "new blood" pumped into Speakout we are confident that there will be a renewed surge of energy to sustain us through next year.

The current levels of activities generated by the core programs of Speakout are outstanding in terms of quality of service delivery. The NESB Domestic Violence Project, Immigrant Women's Resource Centre and Skilled Migrant Placement Officer Project have shown significant outcome indicators. I believe that what is also important to record are the number of service recipients who come and visit us at Speakout and express their appreciation and gratitude for the support given to them. There were those who even offered to do volunteer work for Speakout during their day-off.

The new short-term projects commenced last September and October 2002 respectively. The Temporary Protection Visa Project will be putting more emphasis on community development, information dissemination and referral. One of the major outcomes that this project hopes to achieve is the collation of referral materials, to be published as a referral manual. The other short-term project is Family Support that covers the Blacktown and Fairfield Local Government Areas. The Family Support Project will focus on community development and short-term casework in issues affecting families, especially domestic violence and child abuse.

Together with our dreams is a "WISH LIST" that indicates many of the things we need to do and wanted to have but due to limited resources and work overload we were not able to! One of these is our wish that before the end of 2002 Speakout could move into better premises. Another important item - maybe the most important item on that list - is to have more sustainable sources of funding for Speakout. It might take quite a time to work on this possibility, but we will get there.

This financial year has been a bit tough for Speakout particularly on the issue of human resources. We have farewelled quite a number of staff: Gricel Mendez (Executive Officer), April Pham (DV Policy Officer), Clorinda Lee (DV Project Officer) and Kim Neville (SMPO). To all of them we say thank you and best wishes in your future endeavours. Upekha Nadarajah, Executive Officer from March 2002 has taken some leave since July 2002 and we hope that she will be feeling energised during her leave.

The rest of the staff have worked hard and are endowed with a strong spirit of resilience and I thank them for the great efforts they have put in their work. May I also say that our Management Committee members have supported us through thick and thin. All of the staff members wish to thank them for all the work they have done and the outstanding contribution they gave in skills, their time, and resources.

We wish to express our gratitude to our funding partners: the Department of Community Services, Department of Education and Training, and the Casino Benefit Fund. But we wish to thank as well all the people who helped us in developing better implementation of our projects - Johnn Fonseca (DoCS), Renee Rehbein (DET), and Robert Hanns (Casino Benefit Fund).

Our gratitude also goes to all our partner organisations in various fields of concern and most of all to all our service recipients who have shared to us a part of their life. We hope that we were able to help improve your situations and support you to move on to a better future.