A ‘Big Picture’ update from the BEC and Branch Office
The underlying driver for the Branch Executive Committee (BEC) and the Office for 18 months has been to improve our administrative, financial and governance processes. It is imperative both for the wellbeing of Scouts ACT as a legal entity, and the volunteers and staff who are its heart, soul and engine, that we address administrative and financial practices that no longer serve us well.
The first element is PEOPLE.
- The office restructure. Over 18 months we have carefully grown and reconfigured the human resources of Scouts ACT (paid personnel) from about 2.0 full time equivalents to about 4.0 full time equivalents today, structured strategically, and deployed flexibly to match areas of need in our administrative/ corporate processes. This has been done within budget.
- Skills matched to Scouts ACT’s functional needs. We now have a small, dynamic team of professionals who are focussing on delivering high-value, needed, projects and services to members and the BEC.
- BEC and its subcommittees. Subcommittees provide oversight of non-scouting functions and corporate responsibilities of Scouts ACT, and are ideas incubators for improvements. Recruitment to existing, refreshed and new committees is open now. Information will be circulated separately.
- External Advisers. Due to the broad range of activity in our organisation, we rely on the services of key external experts to supplement internal capacity, particularly for accounting, legal and business advice. We are delighted to have engaged respected Canberra firm Bellchambers Barrett as Scouts ACT accountants after our 12 year relationship with our prior accountants concluded at the 2022 AGM. We have been working closely with Bellchambers Barrett and advisers to analyse known problem areas and to identify solutions. More on this further down.
The second element is PLATFORMS
- We want modern systems that meet our needs and suit everyone’s expectations as users in the 2020s;
- Operoo is now implemented and has been handed over from the IT committee to the office for business-as-usual mode.
- Work is occurring to improve other parts of our digital toolkit, including a modern ‘virtual’ telephone system for the office, improved management and naming conventions for email addresses, an online marketing and management portal for hall hire, and better ‘ways to pay’ options that will benefit parents and others. Some of these are common-sense adjustments to existing practices. Others will need discussion and co-design with those to be affected. We look forward to your support as we open these conversations.
The third element is FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT
- At its September meeting, the BEC considered advice from two of Scouts ACT’s external advisers who – independently of each other – recommended the same overhaul of the way we use Xero. The BEC formally accepted that advice and a process will now begin to design a new financial management system.
- These changes are strongly recommended to us to ensure Scouts ACT meets its legal responsibility to report accurately to the regulatory bodies, and to ensure BEC meets its legal responsibility to always know the financial status of Scouts ACT.
- We are keen to have productive and positive conversations with Treasurers, Group Leaders and others to co-design a new structure, and we ask for your support to deliver this vital change successfully. More information will be circulated separately in the coming weeks.
- As has been communicated regularly (commencing early 2020), it is a formal direction of BEC that all bank accounts for all Scouts ACT entities are held with Bendigo Bank.
- Every entity has had a Bendigo account opened for it and a feed established to their Xero account. Guidance has been supplied to groups and other formations many times on the steps required to convert their banking arrangements, and the office team will assist anyone who asks.
- It is time to conclude this process. BEC has directed the office team to close all remaining Westpac accounts on 30 November. Funds will be transferred to the appropriate Bendigo accounts.
- We are aware that there are some accounts with Westpac and other banks which the Branch does not have sight of. This is a breach of Scouts ACT policy. We request all operators of such accounts to comply with the requirement to transfer funds to Bendigo, and close the outlier accounts, by 30 November. Assistance with this is available: no questions asked, no blame, no criticism. Let’s just get this done.
- If anyone is aware of the existence, or likely existence, of an account that is now orphaned (lost track of who is a signatory), or from which the Branch is being kept blind, please let Jo Legge-Wilkinson know, so it can be fixed.
OTHER NEWS – IN BRIEF
- The approved Appointments List is circulated by email and uploaded to the Members’ Area of the website within a few days of each BEC meeting. The September list was distributed on Monday 26 September.
- Thanks to the many who have submitted an Acknowledgement of Data Privacy form through Operoo and re-attested their commitment to strong cyber-security and data privacy practices. Please go to your Forms Library in Operoo to complete this form if not already done.
- Whilst it’s rotten to finish on this negative note, with many feelings of sadness, frustration and concern we need to let you know two things:
- Insurance premiums have increased 15% on last year on average across all policies.
- We are facing a redress payout in the next few months.
These unwelcome expenses must be met, and doing so limits our capacity elsewhere. The Chief Commissioner, the BEC and the Office team are committed to finding the best pathway through, with the best interests of Scouts ACT foremost in all considerations.