Note from Chair

With the COVID pandemic again challenging us in 2020-21, I am proud to say Windermere continued to provide its essential range of high-quality support and services to families and consumers in our community. Windermere is indeed fortunate to have such a committed and talented group managers and employees.

As Chair, I am very pleased to work with a group of Directors providing an essential framework of Governance for Windermere. This diverse group of Business Leaders volunteer their skills and time to operate Windermere’s Board of Governance and its Advisory Committees for Finance and Audit, Service Enterprise and Risk (SERC), and Remuneration and Succession.

I wish to acknowledge the long and committed support of Board member Pam Usher and thank her for her efforts as the Board’s Vice-Chair and Chair of SERC. Pam retired after many years of loyal and committed support to Windermere. Pam’s generosity included her direct philanthropic support and guidance in a number of community based programs, of particular note Building Harmony, a schools based program for students in year 5&6 from five different faith based schools, focused on building the capacity of young people from diverse backgrounds, to live harmoniously in the emerging community of Officer. Over 10 years this project engaged with more than 1500 young students and on an annual basis demonstrated it impact on changing views, building friendships and hope for a more harmonious future. With Pam's efforts distributed across a number of community based organisations it was wonderful to see this acknowledged in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List by way of an Order of Australia Medal.

With changes to our Board and Advisory committee reporting frameworks across the year there is no doubt that there has been an improved capacity for all members to stay across the diverse range of issues which Windermere faces. This way the Board can maintain its focus on strategic review and monitor implementation of Windermere’s plans. In the past year, we have also focussed on Windermere’s capital management and office improvement strategies to ensure its sustainable future.

I look forward to working with you all again in the next year supporting consumers and our community with Windermere’s usual commitment and dedication.

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Gary Castricum

Note from CEO

As we commenced the start of 2020/21 operationalising a COVID environment, Windermere was also working through the development of its next 3 year strategic plan. With a usual commencement date of July it was clear early on that this would be delayed. In October 2020 after many hours of zoom based contributions from our Board, Senior Leaders and our teams I was glad to be able to launch our 2020-23 Strategic Plan … doing it better together…

With a strong emphasis on the consumer and employee experience, listening to the voices of those that matter and ensuring that we ask, listen and act, along with a series of 19 cascading key projects we commenced work immediately. Across this year key project have include the commencement of our Welcome & Inclusion Statement, forming a working group to guide our Voice of the Child Framework and to build an evidence based platform to support our Practitioner Coaching Framework practice reform journey. Additionally we have commenced the reframing of our Employee Value Proposition, started to dig much deeper to truly understand the consumer experience through our support services and every step of engagement with us, and like every organisation we are seeking to build better and more meaningful data. Every year we work with so many people whose lives have been impacted through tragedy, trauma and challenges. For whatever reason we come together our ultimate aim is to provide every consumer with respectful and targeted supports with a focus on capacity and capability.

Every year we are inspired by our consumers as I remain equally inspired by all those who work at Windermere. No matter what the circumstance the commitment remains the same and the ambition to keep improving never waivers. I thank you for all that you do everyday, I thank the senior leadership group for their drive and energy, for the support I receive everyday from those who I work with most closely I am always grateful the challenging discussions, the divergent views and capacity to remain focussed on what matters.

Finally to the Board I also thank you for your contributions and sound governance.

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Dr Lynette Buoy
Chief Executive Officer

Our Impact


lives of children, families and individuals were
supported in many different ways, including:

Family wellbeing

Community strengthening

Crisis, assault and trauma

Child development, education and support
56 people
every single day require our services.

What our community
is saying about us

Strategic Plan 2020-2023

Doing it Better Together

Our strategic plan guides our operational priorities and strategic direction while supporting our purpose and vision as an organisation. Following a lengthy consultation process, a new strategic plan for 2020-23, themed ‘Doing it Better Together,” was unveiled during the year. All employees were briefed on the new plan via a combination of virtual and face to face information sessions. The Strategic Plan sets a framework for us to focus our energies and resources and work toward outcomes and common goals and has the themes of:

The Strategic Plan sets a framework for us to focus our energies and resources and work toward outcomes and common goals and has the themes of:

Improving Lives

Innovation, evidence and
accountability drives everything we do

Bushfire recovery and support

Following the devastating Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20 we continue to work in partnership with Bushfire Recovery Victoria to provide ongoing support to fire affected individuals and communities.

Through our Bushfire Case Support Program our Case Support Coordinators act as single points of contact to support those affected through their recovery and healing.

We also worked with the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH) to identify impacted individuals and families with urgent housing needs and played a critical role in the provision of temporary housing solutions in the form of caravans and modular housing.
Critically the Bushfire team also identified hundreds of households who had not received initial support and were able to link them in to appropriate supports and grants.


Building hope from the ashes

Eric’s* property was destroyed in the 2019/2020 bushfires.  Not only did he loose his home, he also lost farm outbuildings, equipment and fences critical to his daily needs and business.

Unfortunately rebuilding costs were not fully covered by his insurance claim and he was left feeling isolated, overwhelmed and in despair.

Windermere, acting on behalf of Bushfire Recovery Victoria, provided Eric with a range of supports. This included identifying his immediate needs and plans for the future and linking him into psychological first aid and counselling.

He was also connected to a range of practical and legal supports. This included being referred to a mobile milling service which allowed him to mill fallen trees on his property.

Eric’s case worker supported him to apply for relevant rebuilding grants and to source the replacement of essential items lost in the fire through a donation platform.

Critically, as a result, he was able to obtain a range of grants and essential items that are significantly assisting him to complete his rebuild.

Gradually Eric’s mental wellbeing and physical situation have improved.

He is sleeping better with less worries and now has a new shed. With the fast tracking of a planning permit he will shortly commence the rebuilding of his home.

Read more

Growing NDIS and early childhood early intervention services

The numbers of people supported by our NDIS and early childhood early intervention services increased by nearly a quarter over the course of the year.  Many of the families and individuals we supported experienced increased anxiety and challenges due to the pandemic and associated lockdowns. To best meet their needs we constantly adapted and combined face to face support with telehealth and online modes of service delivery.

Some areas of allied health specialities are facing an industry-wide shortage of skilled workers. Part of our focus during the year was to build and retain a skilled and experienced workforce, so we could support our service expansion. As a long time supporter of best practice and optimising our workforce capability we were pleased to welcome four new allied health practitioners and one early childhood educator into our allied health graduate training program. We were also delighted to launch a much needed NDIS dietitian service, which will better assist our community with their food and nutrition needs.


From tantrums to calm: how Joseph changed his life in a year

Young Joseph’s frequent outbursts and meltdowns were causing huge problems at both school and home. But, thanks to the right NDIS supports, and Joseph’s hard work, today he is now much calmer and happier.

“Joseph was having heaps of breakdowns at home and was even worse at school. He was not listening to his teacher, and was running out of his classes,” says sister Eveline.

Joseph was at a special school and had no out of school therapies or supports. This changed after Joseph received an NDIS plan and his family asked us to provide NDIS support coordination services.

The role of a Support Coordinator is to connect people with an NDIS plan to the supports and services that they need.

At the time primary school age Joseph was also due to transition to a mainstream school at the start of this year and the family worried that he would not be able to do this successfully.

Joseph’s support coordinator Lisa assisted Joseph and his family to organise a range of NDIS supports that were identified in Joseph’s NDIS plan.

Gradually Joseph has become happier and calmer. He has now made the transition into mainstream school, has improved his literacy, made new friends and even learnt to ride a bike.

Read more


Comfort and dignity while facing
one of life’s greatest challenges

After becoming extremely ill Gunter was admitted to hospital and was diagnosed with terminal cancer and liver failure. As he was no longer mobile and had intensive health care needs Gunter’s health provider assisted him to access the NDIS and discharged him to an aged care home.

Unfortunately, Gunter was desperately unhappy in the aged care setting.

After getting to know Gunter and his situation, Windermere Support Coordinator Amie requested the NDIA to urgently review Gunter’s NDIS plan to include supports to enable Gunter to return home. This soon became even more critical due to Gunter’s compromised immunity when a case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in his aged care home.

While waiting for Gunter’s NDIS plan to be reviewed Amie organised for a mental health support worker to visit him once a week.

She also arranged for an Occupational Therapist to visit Gunter so he could be measured for in-home assistive equipment which would make bed transitions and personal care at home more manageable.

After a two month wait, Gunter’s NDIS plan was reviewed to include supports for Gunter to return home safely and comfortably.  As Melbourne was in COVID lockdown, Amie organised for a gardener to clean up Gunter's back yard so he could enjoy some precious outside time in a COIVD safe way. As Gunter’s health was expected to deteriorate, the new plan also included some contingency funds to meet Gunter’s needs as they increased over time.

Supporting and protecting families

During the year we continued to provide a range of specialist services that strengthen and protect children and families, many of whom are in complex situations and require intensive support. Many of their needs and vulnerabilities were exacerbated by the pandemic. A large part of our services involved linking those we work with into appropriate supports or providing practical assistance.

This included:

  • providing case management support to families and individuals living across Casey and Cardinia regions who experienced or are experiencing family violence; including developing safety plans and providing advocacy and referral to services.
  • providing personalised family violence flexible support packages to assist individuals and children impacted by family violence to rebuild their lives. These packages assisted families to access critical supports to improve their safety and wellbeing.
  • working with parents and children to assist families experiencing breakdowns to build stronger, more stable, relationships and better futures through the provision of range of practical supports.
  • providing supports for families at risk of homelessness to support them to find and maintain tenancies or remain in long term housing.
  • confidential counselling for individuals and families to assist them to recover from trauma or difficulties as a result of sexual assault and family violence.


How Stephanie saved herself and her children from violence

Their escape was years in the making, but Stephanie saved herself and her children from an extremely violent and controlling relationship. 

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Stephanie met her partner when she was in her late teens and soon after her partner became extremely controlling and violent. She was too terrified to seek help or to try to leave.

Stephanie and her partner had two children together, Caroline and Luis. This made it even harder for Stephanie to flee, as she was terrified she would endanger her children.

At the time Stephanie came into contact with Windermere she had been trying to gradually detach herself and her children from the relationship. “I wanted to do things slowly so I could keep things calm, so we could get out alive,” she says.

Stephanie was living in extreme poverty and agreeing to certain financial and access arrangements with her partner, so she could “keep him calm enough not to explode.”

Windermere worked with Stephanie and her children to increase their safety and provide them with a range of desperately needed supports.

Both Stephanie and her children experienced severe trauma as a result of witnessing horrific violence.

We organised trauma counselling for Stephanie and her children and also arranged for a family violence package to assist with school fees, in order to maintain critical stability and school attendance for the children. 

Today Stephanie and her children are safe and they are determined to move on with their lives.

Community Strengthening

Windermere operates two evidence-informed programs that creates
healthier, happier and stronger individuals and communities.

Kids on Track: Online youth program improves lives

The schools-based Kids on Track program educates young people to make better choices in their everyday lives, with the goal of improving decision making and social behaviours as they move into adolescence.

Delivered in conjunction with Victoria Police, the Kids on Track program addresses many of the risk factors behind youth offending.

In response to the ongoing need for Kids on Track, and in order to increase accessibility to the program, we developed an online learning program schools, with topics covering topics such as safety, health and anger management.

Like our in class program, the focus is on normalising help seeking behaviours, and how young people can seek support or assist their friends to seek help.

Find out more about Kids on Track

Mums & Bubs Program

Supporting homeless young mums and babies to live
safely with stability

We were delighted to have three young mothers and their babies living in safe, medium term accommodation at our Mums and Bubs House by mid-2021.

This was a huge landmark, as due to the ongoing Covid-19 restrictions from July 2020 through to June 2021, and the strict ever changing health and safety guidelines, we had temporarily not been able to admit any new mothers to the house during part of the year.

While the house was temporarily vacant we took the opportunity to deep clean the property, install new furnishings and upgrade the heating. We also reviewed and improved our referral process, moving it to an online format which is more accessible and streamlined.

Through intensive support we are privileged to give these young women and their babies a genuine chance to break generational cycles of disadvantage.

Although they are very strong and proven survivors, the mums who enter the program are some of the most vulnerable members of our community. Many of them have faced poverty, violence and dangerous situations.

Thanks to each and every one of our
supporters, with a full house now, our Mums & Bubs program
continues to transform the lives of these brave
young mums and their children.


The promise of a safe future

Skye is a true survivor who experienced extreme family violence at the hands of her parents, step parents and siblings.

Knowing she had to protect herself and her young son, she came to us for help and was given accommodation in our Mums and Bubs house.  Skye’s time in the house gave her a safe and stable starting point to get back on her feet and slowly work towards independence and realising some of her future dreams. By the end of her time in the house she had enrolled her son in kindergarten and had started a diploma. “My son and I wouldn’t be together if it wasn’t for the people who donated to the house, I just want to say ‘thank you’ to them,” she says.

See Skye's story - <Embedded video> video link/Skye video

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Supporting and strengthening the Cranbourne community

As the Facilitating Partner for Communities for Children (CFC) Cranbourne we supported six Community Partners who were providing critical supports and services to children and families in the Cranbourne area during the year, albeit in non-traditional and less face to face ways.

35 children and parents who had experienced trauma were supported to rebuild relationships and move forward in their lives.

28 staff and volunteers were trained to support Cranbourne families on their recovery journey.

28 parents were supported in becoming new parents.

Community Information & Support Cranbourne:

6 Parents/carers attended the facilitated ADHD support group.

212 people received outreach information. Another 157 received information and advice over the phone.

120 people, including educators, service organisations and Casey Cardinia Library staff were supported to connect with each other, increasing overall skills and knowledge about early literacies, including cultural literacy. Local Elders were also engaged to enhance cultural literacy. 

94 families, including children, were provided with essential early literacy support.

14 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and 90 Cultural and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) families were supported in early literacies, including in their home languages, through playgroups and story times. 

8 girls and 5 boys became more engaged with school and connected to their community.

10 parents received advocacy and support.

21 parents and 45 children received support to increase school attendance.

74 parents were supported to build more positive relationships with their children.

55 fathers were supported to reconnect and build healthier relationships with their children.

Supporting families in crisis over Christmas

Our Merry Mission Appeal distributes Christmas hampers and
gifts to children and families in crisis. Funds are also raised to
provide further urgent support to families during the year.

Thanks to the wonderful generosity of our supporters

Over 500 helping hampers were provided

1,465 gifts donated

Over $38,000 raised to support vulnerable children and families.

All the hard work is made worthwhile when we received feedback like this:

“Last year Windermere gave us a big Christmas hamper, we had nothing at the time. It was a godsend.”

Ask, Listen, Act

Through the voice of our employees
and consumers, we drive a cycle of
continuous improvement.

COVID-19: response and recovery

Throughout the year we continued to adapt to the challenges of Covid-19,
with the priority being to support both our staff and those we work with
every day to be healthy, safe and supported. This included:

Seeking feedback on the experience of our service delivery during the pandemic.

Providing staff with flexibility to manage family responsibilities within their roles.

Ensuring Covid-19 compliance across all sites and services, including the successful introduction of visitor management software.

Across Windermere, staff demonstrated great flexibility and resilience as they successfully adapted to new ways of working while still meeting the needs of those we support.

Providing, managing and adapting ongoing technology needs related to remote working and enabling employees to work from home whenever necessary or appropriate.

Continuing to ensure responsiveness and flexibility around Covid-19 communications to ensure all of our staff and community remained updated on latest developments.

Through hard work and a focus on great customer service we are very pleased to report that hirers were steadily returning to Toomah Community Centre by mid-2021. The Pakenham based Community Centre, which we administer in partnership with Cardinia Shire Council was unfortunately closed for most of 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions.


Adapting to telehealth

Four year old Willow has been receiving telehealth sessions to extend her language skills and understand and follow instructions better.

Even though the sessions are not face to face, Katrina, her early childhood intervention practitioner, has been able to make the sessions fun and productive by following Willow’s interests. One of their favourite sessions was when Katrina and Willow both brought their favourite teddies to their Zoom meeting and explored the solar system together. They then returned to Earth for a pretend picnic to discuss their adventure.

Community Activation and Social Isolation Initiative (CASI)

The state-wide program CASI program was set up by the Victorian government to provide social, emotional and practical support to people experiencing vulnerability, loneliness or social disconnection during the pandemic. It is being delivered in partnership with the Red Cross and other community organisations by listening and responding directly to community need.

We were honoured to deliver the program to residents in East Gippsland.

During the year we provided:

- tailored case support plans to 38 individuals 

- 1800 residents participated in CASI activities to improve their wellbeing.

Read more

Community Activation and Social Isolation Initiative (CASI)

The state-wide program CASI program was set up by the Victorian government to provide social, emotional and practical support to people experiencing vulnerability, loneliness or social disconnection during the pandemic. It is being delivered in partnership with the Red Cross and other community organisations.

We were honoured to deliver the program to residents in East Gippsland.

During the year we provided:


Indivdual tailored case support plans


residents participated in CASI activities to improve their wellbeing

Developing our framework
for best practice

We continue to roll out our Practitioner Coaching Framework (PCF) which was developed in conjunction with the Parenting Research Centre. The PCF is premised on a new approach to case management which focuses on building the capacity of adults who care for children. We know the PCF approach is one of the most powerful ways of promoting the development, wellbeing and safety of those we work with. 

The PCF framework guides how we work on ‘collaborative projects’ with those we support and assist. These projects build on inner strengths and develop plans to help the people we work with to live their best lives.

As part of the roll out of the PCF we were proud to hold a virtual PCF expo for staff in December 2020.  We also successfully embedded the PCF framework into our Student Unit, which offers tertiary students an opportunity to gain work experience in their area of study. During the past year the Student Unit was offered virtually and happily, by the end of 2020, we were delighted to employ three students who had been trained in the PCF.


After years of struggle, Amy is
taking charge of her life

When Amy first connected with Windermere she was struggling to manage the needs of her family.

Amy was living on a farm in rural Victoria with her husband and three children, (two teenagers and one primary school aged daughter). Amy married when she was just 19 and had raised her family and assisted her husband on the farm ever since.

“Often I felt burnt out, but I continued to push through to help my family any way I could,” says Amy.

Windermere Family Support Worker Linda worked with Amy to build her capacity and problem solving skills. 

The ‘Coaching’ approach Linda used was not to fix Amy’s problems.  Our Practitioner Coaching Framework enabled Amy to find the best solutions for herself and her family. This included working on “collaborative projects” so Amy could develop detailed plans as well as contingency plans if this went wrong.  It helped her identify critical priorities and make the best possible choices for her situation.

Amy used the approach to set up new supports for the family, which included counselling and changes to foster independence in her children.

“I will be forever grateful for all the work Windermere and Linda have done to help me rise above everything,”


Learning new skills

Youth work graduate Rebecca completed a student placement with Windermere in 2020. Due to Covid-19 restrictions much of her placement was largely completed remotely, assisting with the development of our schools-based Kids on Track online curriculum.

After gaining her degree and completing her placement, she found an education support role in a primary school where she is already putting into practice many of the skills she learnt, particularly in the areas of trauma informed practice. “I learnt so much at Windermere and straight away my skills were transferable into a work setting,” she says.

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Commencement of our Welcoming & Inclusion Strategy

As part of our commitment to diversity and promoting a culture where everyone who is part of the Windermere community feels welcomed and accepted, we commenced work on a Welcome & Inclusion Strategy. Staff focus groups were also held to gain initial input. This long term strategy will determine how we can best provide a safe, equitable and welcoming environment for everyone in our community – including our staff and those we work with every day.

This in turn will influence staff retention and talent acquisition as well as our ability to better meet the needs of everyone we work with and support.

Championing the voice of the child

This year we commenced a strategic project to explore and develop a tailored Voice of the Child Framework. The focus is on sourcing good practice and evidence based tools to guide how we obtain and act on children’s feedback about their Windermere experience. The Framework will be grounded in a rights-based approach that encourages children to express their views freely in a safe, respectful and inclusive space. 


Listening to - and hearing - our children

As part of activities to encourage the kinder children at Windermere ELC to communicate their feelings in a positive way, they were asked how they see themselves and how they were feeling.

To assist them to express themselves their educators encouraged the children to draw self portraits. The self portraits were a powerful way for the children’s self expression and the children enjoyed seeing these displayed on the wall of their classroom.

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Do More and Do It Better

Through creating opportunities and
generating growth, we do more of
what we do well to reach more

Growing our early childhood and care services

During the year we continued to establish an Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) service at selected local primary schools. We collaborated with school communities to address the varying needs of families, formed a leadership team and recruited new staff. Despite the pressures of continued COVID-19 lockdowns, the OSHC program steadily increased in enrolments.

Our Early Learning Centre (ELC) and Family Day Care teams continued to focus on ensuring quality outcomes that enrich the lives of the children we work with. Educators and staff stepped up and extended extra care and support to many of the children during this time of unforeseen change and challenges for many families. The ELC also focused on building and strengthening partnerships with the community in which we work. This included increased collaboration with our allied health team in order to better identify and meet the developmental needs of the ELC children.

Our Family Day Care team also focussed on supporting educators and onboarding new ones through the ever evolving COVID-19 situation. This included providing online networking and support and adapting our procedures and processes.

1039 children

accessed high quality care and education


Natasha and her family are thriving since she became an educator

Family day care educator Natasha chose to open her Family Day Care business with Windermere because she wanted to have a better work life balance after the birth of her second child.  

“I chose Windermere because they have a good reputation and offered lots of support,” she says.

 Within a month of opening her new business, Natasha was fully booked, and caring for her two children plus two other children on a daily basis.

“Being a Family Day Care educator lets me get the best of both worlds. I can still work and support my family, but I can also care for my children while doing something that I have a passion for,” she says.

Natasha has also been enjoying the opportunity to network with others. “It’s been really great. Windermere have given me the opportunity to link in with other local educators to swap ideas and share tips and tricks and questions,” she says.

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Safeguarding quality

During the year we were very proud to achieve compliance with three
different quality standards.

Our NDIS teams achieved inaugural full compliance with the NDIS Quality & Safeguarding Practice Standards' audit in August 2020, receiving formal sign off by the NDIS Commissioner in June 2021.

We achieved compliance with the Health and Community Service Standards' audit in November 2020, with formal sign off by Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) in January 2021.

We achieved full compliance with the Human Services Standards' audit in November 2020 with formal sign off by Quality Innovation Performance (QIP) in January 2021.

Reducing risk and increasing safety

During the year, the Multi-Agency Risk Assessment and Management Framework (MARAM) was successfully integrated throughout the organisation. MARAM will help us to ensure we are effectively identifying, assessing and managing family violence risks. MARAM’s introduction involved a large amount of work, particularly for our family violence team, but the end result will be greater safety for our families and those we work with every day.

Supporting victims of crime and assault

Our Victims Assistance program provides confidential information and support to assist the recovery of those who have either experienced or witnessed a violent crime. Additionally, our Koori Engagement Workers also provide culturally appropriate support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander victims of crime.

Our Victim Support workers are required to meet key performance requirements including those that measure responsiveness and we are proud to report that we were able to successfully meet and exceed these despite the unique challenges posed by Covid-19. We also continued to optimise quality improvements by streamlining communication, systems and processes between our Southern and Gippsland based teams.


After years of pain, Ken can move on from childhood abuse

After years of pain following childhood sexual abuse, Ken*, finally feels as if he has received some justice.

Elderly Ken was referred to Windermere’s Victims Assistance Program by a counselling service. At the time Ken was struggling to come to terms with a legacy of childhood abuse.

As a young teenager, due to serious illness, Ken had been admitted to hospital twice. Because his family lived in a rural location, with long travel times between the hospital and home, Ken was left isolated and without family support during his long hospital admissions. It was during this hospital stays that Ken was subjected to terrible sexual abuse. Ever since, Ken has struggled to move on with his life.

Over a 12 month period VAP worker Rhonda worked with Ken to develop a submission for the National Redress Scheme for people who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse. After submitting the application Ken received a letter of apology and compensation.

 The formal apology and compensation meant that Ken could finally make peace with himself and that he and his wife could be comfortable in their twilight years.

*details changed to protect privacy

Read more


Melanie’s journey to heal

When artist Melanie Jai first contacted us she was trying to cope with the legacy of years of childhood abuse.

Melanie had previously disconnected herself from her horrific memories but had been forced to confront them when after surgery as a result of a domestic violence incident perpetrated by her former partner.

“I had never before disclosed, and therefore dealt with, what had happened to me as a child. So when I was pulled apart physically, my mind had nowhere else to go and sort of imploded.  Suddenly I had to face this past trauma, and recognise its place in getting to this point,” she says.

Not even Melanie’s parents had been aware of the sexual abuse, which started when she was only four years old.

Although the abuse may not have been obvious to others, Melanie’s life choices and actions were deeply influenced by her long term trauma. “It shaped my understanding of boundaries and I never learnt how to protect myself from predatory people,” she said.  As an adult, she was drawn into a cycle of violent relationships.

Following hospitalisation after her assault, Melanie reached out to our Victims Assistance Program (VAP) team. VAP is government-funded and designed to assist victims of violent crimes to recover.

We supported Melanie to receive trauma counselling, make a “gut-wrenching” police report and disclose her childhood abuse.

As a result of the support and counselling she received, Melanie started to use her artwork to express her personal journey and healing.

Today Melanie has ongoing trauma counselling and is focusing on picking up the pieces to create a future for herself and her children.

“It’s hard work and I still have triggers and really bad moments. The difference is, now I have a strong support system around me, and am learning the necessary tools to be able to better deal with these times,“ she says.

Read more

Assessment of our Fundraising Programs

To better support the individuals, children and families we work with we have historically held several annual fundraising appeals and events. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, our major fundraising events, such as our Bounce of the Ball football lunch and Windermere Classic Golf Day could not be held. In light of the changing environment and organisational needs going forward, we took the opportunity to develop a new fundraising plan which addresses both our short and long term focuses.

Business support driven by identified needs

The complexities and demands placed on our financial services team have grown along with the expansion of our services. As a result, during the year our finance team restructured to better meet changing needs. The finance team also worked to deliver timely and accurate forecasts of deliverables, which are critical for management and Board decisions. The team also continued to refine efficiencies and to drive streamlined and efficient processes for both our staff and those accessing our services.

Optimising our IT

During the year we successfully migrated our office software to Office 365. This cloud-based platform has allowed us to improve productivity and flexibility across the organisation.

Over the course of the year the IT team also continued to roll out mobile devices and provide the level of assistance and support required to enable our workforce to operate efficiently at both remote and office based sites.

Evidence Matters

We don’t assume, we seek to know &
then co-create solutions.

Meaningful and real time data

We were delighted to take up the Parenting Research Centre’s invitation to participate in a Continuous Practice Improvement project funded by the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing (DFFH).  The project’s focus is on developing and operating an integrated Continuous Practice Improvement System.

The system uses data to build evidence and drive quality improvement. An easy and accessible data collection system called Parenting Research Innovative Social Evaluation (PRISE) was trialled by our Integrated Family Services team and has greatly assisted our ability to create purposeful data that we can genuinely use to improve the experience of the people we work with.

In particular, going forward PRISE will assist us to access more accurate and real time data which will support evidence informed decision making. Using evidence informed assessment tools combined with PRISE provides us with significant insights into the effectiveness of our framework, the translation of our training into practice and ultimately know if we are helping our consumers to make a difference in their lives. 

Laying the foundation for our enterprise architecture

In order to respond to both changing technology and support our strategic direction, we continued to adapt and improve our processes for managing information.  Our focus was on improving the experiences and outcomes for our staff and the people we work with every day.  This included launching a duress app for staff, laying foundations for an improved telephony system and working towards streamlining email mailboxes. We also developed and planned an organisation wide online desk/room/car booking system to maximise resources and space and comply with Covid safety requirements

Understanding and defining our value to our employees

During the year we commenced work on our Employee Value Proposition (EVP), with the objective of aligning future focuses with our Strategic Plan. Two major pieces of work within the EVP are examining our Employee Experience and developing a Capability Framework which will map out core capabilities required across all levels of Windermere. These projects will allow us to review what our current value proposition is to our current and future employees and to articulate the rewards and benefits that we can offer to our employees, in alignment with our strategic plan.


Net Promotor Scores are often viewed as the gold standard to track how people perceive a service.  A score over nine is considered to be extremely positive and means individuals will likely keep using our services and/or actively promote us to others.  A score of 0-6 means consumers are dissatisfied, while a score of 7-8 means consumers are somewhat satisfied, but not likely to actively refer others to our services.

As part of our focus on satisfaction and feedback, we regularly survey our consumers about our services. Our aim over the next 12 months is to invite our consumers to share their views more and target areas for improvement.

Our Net Promoter Scores
snapshot was:

May 2021 score
May 2020 score

Thanks to you

Thanks to your generosity and support
we continue to change lives,
strengthen families and impact our

In 2020/21 we received





Our Volunteer Board &
Committee Members

Gary Castricum – Chair

Alane Fineman – Vice Chair

Mark Findlay – Treasurer

Ricki Ryan

David Sagar

Malcolm Bailey

Rod Wiedermann

Janine Pickering


Pam Usher – Vice Chair
(departed November 2020)

Chris Eccles AO
(departed October 2020)


Service & Enterprise Risk

Finance & Audit Committee

Remuneration & Succession
Advisory Committee

Each of sub-committees are comprised of external and internal members with appropriate expertise or qualifications.

Grateful thanks to our generous donors

Our wonderful donors and supporters have provided vital contributions
to support our work and our community strengthening programs,
including Kids on Track and our Mums & Bubs program (Strachan House).

Significant Supporters
(donated $5,000 or more)

Lucian Anceschi

Carl Strachan OAM

Ian & Joan Ball

Don Moyes


Carl Strachan, OAM


David Parkin, OAM

Matthew Richardson

Corporate and community supporters

Trusts & Foundations

Ducas Paul Foundation
Hotel Care Foundation (Vic)
The Garry White Foundation
The Russel Foundation
Mutual Trust Foundation


Effective, quality services
with financial prudence.

Financial Performance

Our primary financial objective is to provide effective and quality services to our communities most vulnerable while balancing financial prudence. As a result, our financial performance is generally consistent year on year, given the nature, scope and scale of our business do not change substantially.

Throughout 2020/2021 we continued to invest and lay the foundations for growth and improved efficiencies to better meet the needs of our consumers. This year’s strong financial results, while partially impacted by COVID-19, reflect the ongoing development of our transformation activities.

These include increased demand for NDIS programs, additional support from our government funding bodies and JobKeeper subsidy of $3.6M, combined with prudent expense management.

As an organisation, we continue to have a strong financial position, driven by our historical operating surpluses and efficient fiscal management. We are confident our services will continue to grow and support our community.

Our Financials

Windermere offices are located at a number of sites across South Eastern Victoria.

Contact us for more details:

Phone: 1300 946 337