Leaps & Bounds
2017 Annual Report
Charissa (Maria) Ramirez
Hoa My Nguyen
Joe (Salvatore) Borraccino
From our CEO
It’s been a year since we rebranded and we have much to celebrate! We have surpassed multiple project targets, presented internationally about digital inclusion, attracted several new fee for service contracts and had a considerable increase in our support for people experiencing disadvantage (this year up 35%).
We love our new brand and are thrilled with how quickly it has been adopted and enthusiastically accepted by the community. This warm reception has exceeded all our expectations and is due largely to the quantity and quality of work delivered by our amazingly talented team.
Our successes this year include an increase of 38% for volunteer referrals placing 414 people in meaningful volunteer roles – no easy task especially when you consider the time it takes to appropriately respond to the 727 volunteer enquiries (an increase of 21% on our target) we received. Our efficient, effective and innovative team have gone above and beyond their targets to support 95 organisations instead of the planned 80 and hosted 14 volunteer recognition events instead of the scheduled 8 generating significant positive feedback.
We are particularly proud of our achievements providing over 300 incidents of support for people experiencing disadvantage to gain the necessary skills to be included in and make the most of our digital society and economy. This was in less than a year from our volunteer powered digital mentoring lab.
Throughout Western Sydney we successfully recruited 28 volunteer digital mentors and supported 16 organisations to start a digital mentoring program – an amazing accomplishment. Why do we say this? When we have approached organisations suggesting they offer digital mentoring to people experiencing disadvantage, they often find the concept incomprehensible or at best prefer a computer course run by an ‘expert’. This approach is not sustainable, confuses the learner and fails to harness the benefits that result from a digital mentoring model which starts with where the learner is at.
One of our strategies for showcasing the value of all things digital was to host a Digital Festival in October 2016 which attracted 140 visitors and 12 exhibitors. We chose St Marys, a highly disadvantaged area of NSW as this community faces a high rate of exclusion.
Our annual Webinar/White Paper series How to Leep the Digital Divide, 6 Hot Tips for your e-newsletters, The Changing Face of Volunteering and Digital Inclusion and the Digital Divide along with our blogs generated over 2,000 views. This is putting our brand values for sharing our thought leadership into practice.
Our presentations at a number of conferences nationally (NSW Digital Divide Forum 2016, Volunteering NSW 2017 State Conference, Digital Inclusion and Disability and Broadband for the Bush Forum VI) and internationally (Digital Revolution: Social Evolution in London 2016) reflect our commitment to knowledge sharing.
This year, we engaged NSW Council for Intellectual Disability and syfte (a human design company) to assist us in conducting research with people with mild to moderate intellectual disability, receiving NDIS, to assess their readiness and motivation for digital literacy skills. Six key motivations for achieving digital literacy were uncovered, all supporting the overarching need for autonomy. These findings are documented in the report, Informing Opportunities for People with Intellectual Disability published in May and presented at our Forum, Creating Digital Communities.
This Forum was in collaboration with Uniting and NSW Ability Links. Julie McCrossin, was our MC for the day, leading over 100 participants through presentations by Helen Milner OBE (CEO, Good Things Foundation), Kelly Schulz (Senior Advisor on Accessibility and Inclusion, Telstra), Kim McGuire (Design Director, syfte), Dr Manisha Amin (CEO, Media Access Australia) and Melanie Tran (Lead UX Designer, Ability Mate) followed by a panel and an interactive workshop.
Leep communityNet eNewsletters continue to provide value evidenced by the 50% increase in subscriptions this year to over 19,000. We are really proud to now have 3 contracts with local government; City of Parramatta, Fairfield City and Hawkesbury Council connecting these communities through communityNet. Overall this year has seen a 60% increase in fee for service contracts with Local and State Governments and Not for Profit organisations, reflecting our ability to be responsive to community needs. A particularly exciting example of this was being asked by the City of Parramatta to conduct an audit of their digital services and make recommendations for how to improve these for their Smart City strategy.
This year has been a truly transformative time for Leep, marking a period of accelerated growth, learning and successes across a wide range of ventures that have contributed to the creation of inclusive communities. As we power ahead, we will endeavour to leap into an ever changing social landscape, maximising our reach and creating real impact in underserved communities, so that we all can Imagine Tomorrow Together.
Our Year at a Glance
and advice for
LEADERSHIP AND ADVICE
It has been a very exciting year across all areas of Leep’s activities, not the least of which is completion of the first full year under our new brand.
Our organisation has a rich history of service to the community and we are very proud to be continuing this commitment into the contemporary world in which we operate today. As the needs of the community have changed so have we in response.
We began the 2016/17 year confident of our future but very uncertain about our funding. We deliberately set out to generate more fee for service income to lessen our reliance on government grants. Some of these grants were in jeopardy due to other funding pressures across government. Pleasingly this has been a successful approach as we have grown our fee income stream. Even more pleasing has been the news we have received over recent months giving us certainty about our principal government funding for the next few years.
I’d like to acknowledge the hard work and contributions of our wonderful staff and our excellent CEO. Their efforts are an inspiration as they deliver innovative services and practical supports to a wide range of individuals, organisations, and communities across all areas of our operations.
Our expertise based Board has continued its care filled work in stewarding and guiding the organisation through some of the uncertainty we have faced. While at the same time pushing new service opportunities and greater levels of innovation. I appreciate and benefit from their support and encouragement.
We have seen some changes in the Board over the year and I’d like to especially thank retired Directors Eva Gerencer, Jenny Paton, Armanda Scorrano, Ellissa Nolan and Josephine de Bruyn, for their commitment and important contributions to Leep. We wish them well for the future.
We also welcomed a number of new Directors to the Board this year, Belinda Chapman, and more recently Prashant Rai, who have all already demonstrated the value they add to our business and our services, and importantly our culture and commitment.
Special highlights for the year are set out in the CEO’s report. On a practical level we have also made some alterations to our office premises to improve the functionality and comfort for our tireless staff.
We’re very excited about our new partnership this year with the Good Things Foundation, a leading UK based organisation for digital inclusion and now with an office in Australia. We also greatly appreciate our wide range of partners for their continued support, both those that fund us and those whose moral and intangible support encourages and nourishes us.
I’d like to particularly acknowledge our principal funders the Departments of Health and Social Services federally and the NSW Department of Family and Community Services including Ageing, Disability and Home Care. We appreciate the valuable partnerships we have for communityNet with WESTIR and Parramatta, Fairfield and Hawkesbury Councils. This year Uniting and Ability Links partnered with us for our recent and very successful Forum, Creating Digital Communities.
The new financial year ahead has some challenges as we strive to extend our reach and our services to our many current and new partners and clients. We do this, however, with more funding certainty than last year and with renewed enthusiasm for the ways we can all Imagine Tomorrow Together.