On the 11/5/17 we celebrated the opening of our new Wodonga office with over 100 friends and colleagues. Our guest speaker and official opener was Victoria’s Commissioner for Children and Young People, Liana Buchanan. Liana spoke passionately and eloquently about the importance of early intervention and support for vulnerable children and youth. Such services include UMFC’s Out of Home Care, Child and Family Services and the Hume Riverina Community Legal Service. Having these programs all under one roof promises stronger collaboration leading to better outcomes for our service users. Essential infrastructure as represented by our new office is part of the evidence the agency is committed to delivering high quality services for our local community. It is a source of great pride that this significant capital investment has been achieved without any government contribution. The independence of UMFC is further strengthened by such accomplishments.

UMFC has concluded its extensive evaluation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to see if the agency could participate in a viable and sustainable way.

The result is very clear, we cannot.  The constraints of providing services under the NDIS framework (i.e. the NDIS Price Guide) do not lend themselves to smaller organisations being able to provide a range of services in a viable and sustainable manner. With less than $1M revenue from services to people with disability, UMFC is considered a smaller provider.

The agency’s existing Aged and Disability Support Services will be restructured over the next 3 months, to adjust to the reduced funding. It will be a difficult time for us during this process. However, we remain committed to continuing to provide quality services to our community and this will be the basis of our restructure. We have been informing our current clients and key stakeholders of the decision, and will continue to share information when it becomes available.

The NDIS is set to be fully rolled out in Victoria by the 1/10/17. Most people understand that this radical change in the disability sector is based on moving funding from agencies, to eligible consumers, for them to choose the service and provider that best meets their needs. The premise of the NDIS is widely accepted as the right thing to do. There are however significant impacts of this new direction.

First, agencies need to decide if they can operate under the new model. In the trial sites which have been going for several years, the evidence is that 2 out of 5 agencies have a negative cash position. The NDIS as an insurance scheme funds the provider retrospectively, meaning you need a strong cash flow to operate until the money paid out is recouped.

Second, the trial sites have shown around 30% of consumers have changed providers. This turnover means that providers are relying heavily on casual staff in light of the variable income. This has major ramifications for the workforce and service quality. Clearly experience has shown that the relationship between the worker and consumer is critical. How this will operate with a casual workforce is something to monitor.

Third, the NDIS is very clearly a business model. This means a business-like approach in all aspects (hence the term consumer, not client). So, a cultural change for all involved.

UMFC is examining our position now for post October, seeing what current funding is ongoing and what options under the NDIS may be possible. It is a difficult time for not only our staff, given the uncertainty, but also our current clients as they wait to see what support, if any, they may be entitled to. It can only be hoped that this major change delivers what it promises, better outcomes for consumers.

We are pleased to announce that we have a new home and a new look!

Our main office is now located
at 27-29 Stanley Street, Wodonga

You can continue to use 1800 918 377 or
to make an appointment or obtain a referral.

Please note the following details have also changed:

Phone: (02) 6055 8090
Fax: (02) 6055 8079

Our fresh new look has been designed by Dutch Media and we look forward to the continual roll-out of our new branding over the next few weeks.

I wanted to inform you of UMFC’s position regarding the NDIS.

“UMFC is committed to providing services to people with a disability and is currently exploring how we could do this under the NDIS in a viable and sustainable manner, including all the necessary business practices associated therewith. We plan to announce if this is achievable by the end of March.”

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UMFC Message for Victorian NDIS participants

We continue to support people with disability, their families and carers. However, we are not currently in a position to do so under NDIS. We will provide updates here and on social media once we know more.

You can search for NDIS registered providers here:

NDIS Website

UMFC Message for Victorians without NDIS packages

UMFC continues to provide supports to people with disability, are ageing or have dementia, and their carers and families. You can contact us using the form on this page, call us on 02 6055 8000, or download our brochures to find out more.

I was fortunate to attend the 2AY Radio Xmas party on the 1st December, which gave me the opportunity to meet a number of local businesses and community minded people. Brendan O’ Laughlin, 2AY station manager, very kindly gave me the chance to speak about our Trust In Kids fund. It was also an opportunity to show off the new branding devised by Dutch Media, which was well received. A number of businesses expressed interest in Trust In Kids, which was very gratifying. One of these was the Cycle Station in Albury, who happened to generously donate three bikes to UMFC. These are going to good homes and will make some children very excited. Jake Wolki from Cycle Station and Brendan O’Laughlin from 2AY Radio are pictured presenting me with the bikes.

The owners of the Cycle Station are well aware of the struggles of families and children doing it tough, and I believe we may be able to share some future stories of their contribution to our cause. I never cease to be amazed at the goodwill that exists for UMFC in the community, which is a reflection of the great work our people do on a daily basis. I received an invitation to be a guest speaker at the Lavington Lions club after meeting the club President, Graham Jenkin, at the same event, and will use this time to highlight Trust In Kids too. Similarly, at our AGM on the 24/11 where we officially launched the new Trust In Kids branding, the CEO of the Rural City of Wodonga, Patience Harrington expressed interest in organising support at a workplace level.

It all goes to show that if you have a good cause there are great people out there willing to lend a hand. When times get tough that’s a fact that really helps you to hang on in.

On the 11th and 12th of August, I attended a symposium at the Mt Eliza Business School hosted by DHHS on the Roadmap for Reform strategy. The Roadmap has three reform directions, improving access to universal services, providing wrap around support to families and improving outcomes for children in out of home care (OOHC).

While many challenges remain, eg the ratio of aboriginal children in OOHC, there was plenty of good news too. We heard that 194 children had either left or not entered OOHC over the past year because of targeted care packages (TCP). The number of children in residential care had fallen from 7% to just over 5%. Given the high cost and poor outcomes for children in residential care this was a development that all could welcome.

Research was highlighted as an essential component in the new service landscape, with evidence based programs being the way forward. One stark illustration of this was the comment that a reliable, caring adult was the key to healthy child brain development. Thus the preference for home based OOHC options was supported as generating better outcomes for children.

There was much discussion over workforce issues and funding models which will continue to be worked on via working groups that will be formed in the near future. The energy and optimism generated across the two days was impressive, with a consensus that we were on the right track for significant achievements for Victorian children and families.

Congratulations to all involved, as a participant it was time well spent with likeminded colleagues dedicated to making a difference.

The UMFC Board accepted the strategic pillars that were drafted by managers and the Board at their June Board meeting. These will now be publicly displayed at each of our offices and used by each service in their annual planning. It was a very positive process with a great deal of consensus about what our priorities should be.

I will report against the strategic pillars in future meetings in order that the Board can measure progress. There will be significant changes happening in our sector over the next three years (the span of our plan) and it is vital that we track our performance during this time.

What I like about our process is the direct linkage between our overall goals and services activities. This helps guide a collective sense of purpose and direction as well as encouraging ownership in our successes.

Strategic Plan

Albury City Mayor Henk van de Ven, Rotary Club of Albury Hume President Gordon Shaw and Radio 2AY General Manager Brendan O’Loughlin presentation to Luke of a $1,000 cheque at the office of our radio partners 2AY on Tuesday 10th May.

Part of Rotary Club of Albury Hume’s mission is to serve and support the local community. Every year they sell candles at Albury City Carols by Candlelight. The candles are purchased in partnership by Albury City and Radio 2AY. The Rotary Club of Albury Hume then work to identify where the funds raised will go within our local community. I was very pleased to hear that Rotary Club of Albury Hume had announced that $1,000 of the funds raised this year were being donated to our Trust in Kids fund.

We established this fund to support our children in achieving their dreams for the future. The fund is for children and young people up to 21 years who have limited opportunities because of family, social, financial or other individual circumstances. Some of these children are affected by issues relating to family violence, mental health and drug and alcohol use. The fund is available for educational, social, recreational, and cultural opportunities. Every penny is spent on the kids and donations are tax deductible.

This fund is about making a real difference to the lives of children less fortunate than others, and as such Rotary Club of Albury Hume, Albury City and Radio 2AY are pleased to support this important community initiative.

You can donate, and find out more about Trust In Kids here.

Find out more about Rotary Club of Albury Hume here.

As the week of the 9/5 is volunteer week, our Interchange program and Hume Riverina Community Legal Service, have organised a couple of functions to recognise their volunteers. I was privileged to hand out certificates for both services this week. I did so in our Wangaratta office, for the Wangaratta based HRCLS volunteers, in our meeting room, named after a long serving, retired Board and Life member, Gillian Mallinder. Gillian is an esteemed community member and founding partner in the legal firm Campagner, Gray and Mallinder. Very appropriate.

I said at the time that volunteers are the defining feature of agencies like UMFC. We couldn’t function without them ( notably our foster parents and Interchange camp volunteers ). UMFC has about 250 volunteers across our services including our Board, who accept final accountability for the organisation. For paid staff like me there is a clear rationale for turning up, we get a wage. Our volunteers turn up because they want to make a contribution to their community on top of their work and other commitments. UMFC has built an enviable reputation thanks to both parties, may the successful partnership long continue.

To all those who volunteer, thank you and I hope you receive the acknowledgment you deserve.

Help Support Local Families During Times of Need. Donate Now or Volunteer.


UMFC acknowledges the First Peoples of Australia as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work. We acknowledge their culture is a living one, which relates to their ongoing connection to all things living and non-living on land, sea and sky. We pay our respect to their elders past and present. May our children of today lead us to a better tomorrow.


UMFC acknowledges the support of the Victorian and the Australian Governments

Commitment to Child Safety

All children and young people who access UMFC Services have a right to feel and be safe and to be treated with respect. We are committed to providing a welcoming and safe environment and working towards the best interests of children and young people at all times.