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Real Business : 2013 Issue 1
34 Real Business ISSUE 1, 2013 VOLUNTEERING for a charity that offers therapy for abused children is not something entered into lightly. Justine Best CPA, a partner of Brisbane accountancy firm Affinity Partners, understood this when she was asked to offer her services to ACT for Kids. Best knew her entire background in accountancy and risk management would be brought to bear. Since 2008 she has been a member of the charity’s audit, r isk and compliance committee and was recently appointed a director. Best admits she has negligible skills in the child and community services sphere, but soon realised her skill set could still be of great service to the charity’s aims, economic wellbeing and overall standing. ACT for Kids offers not only therapy but also a safe‐house program for Indigenous children, so there are risks involved. It’s not just the risk of something going wrong for the children the charity takes in – there are r isks that always circle around sensitive social issues. “Our committee considers different risks, including financial and insurance risks,” Best says. “But the biggest risk we face is reputational. We have to be more than normally scrupulous about everything we do.” Best admits her role has more of a corporate air about it than a charitable one, but the charity is an unlisted public company subject to the same rules as its corporate counterparts. Where it differs is its partial reliance on the public purse, which means an increased need for transparency. “This is critical if we are to be awarded vital government grants,” she says. Best was first approached by the charity’s chairman, Denis Loaney, when she had just had her first child and joined a partnership. “It was not something I was looking to commit to, but Denis was incredibly passionate about the organisation,” she says. One meeting a month often turns into at least two. “We often start at 7am for a committee meeting and board meetings are held after‐hours once a month,” she says. The kids come first Offering time and skills to support children has a particular satisfaction for Justine Best CPa. While the time demands are sometimes difficult and Best has to constantly juggle family, charity and work, she says this is trivial compared with the input of the members of the board and committee – all volunteers. “ Who knows what some of these people would be able to achieve in the private sector,” she asks. “ Yet they’re doing this because they’re so committed to preventing child abuse.” Having had her own children, Best’s passion for the organisation’s work has grown exponentially. “People ask me why I do this. It would always be easier just to give cash. But being able to use the skill set I have is what drives me. It gives me a far greater sense of satisfaction.” Justine Best at Act For Kids, Wooloowin, Queensland. PhOtO: RiChaRd Whitfield STory adaM COuRtenaY gIvIng BAcK WEBlInK To find out more about AcT for Kids see www.actforkids.com.au Early intervention set up as the abused Child trust in 1988, aCt for Kids’ workforce increased by half in the 2010-11 financial year. this is because of the rising number of children in care or under care- and-protection orders. aCt for Kids says that at its last estimate, 36,000 children across australia were unable to live safely at home. in the same year, more than 31,000 children were abused or neglected. the charity, which raises its funding primarily through government grants and fundraising, provides early intervention support to help families minimise the effects of abuse and neglect on children. it offers intensive therapy for children suffering from psychological, cognitive and developmental problems and has a safe-house program, which it runs in five remote indigenous communities. the charity says indigenous children are more than six times more likely to be placed in out-of-home care. aCt for Kids also offers an early education intervention program for those children not yet able to deal with school, as well as youth opportunity programs for young people in trouble with the law and for those seeking to re-engage with society.
Issue 3 2012