CEO of Jewish Care: “If we are not changing, we are going backwards.”
Bill Appleby, CEO of Jewish Care, started off his career differently to most.
Appleby began working as a registered nurse and quickly worked his way up to managerial positions.
Appleby has a deep passion for the care sector and says it is this passion that makes him proud to be CEO of Jewish Care.
Third Sector spoke with Appleby to find out more about the Jewish NFP sector, value-based leadership and why change is so important.
TS: Tell us about your journey from nurse to CEO?
BA: It’s been a wonderful journey thus far. I have been extremely fortunate along the way to have leaders invest in my development and give me the opportunity to grow professionally.
Working at the direct coalface of care for many years equips you to fully appreciate how organisational decisions impact the daily lives of care staff and the quality of support to our clients.
TS: You speak about your passion for value-based leadership. Could you elaborate on this?
BA: If we are truly going to deliver exceptional outcomes for our clients we must grow leaders in our organisation that align to our stated leadership behaviours. We need authentic leaders who can adapt to the changing market place, lead under pressure, champion change and build exceptional teams.
We have four leadership behaviours at Jewish Care that we embed in all that we do – empathy, goal setting, belonging and personal growth. We invest heavily to ensure that these values are the ‘lived experience’ of our staff, volunteers and clients.
TS: Does being a religious organisation help determine the organisation’s core values?
BA: Jewish Care supports the entire community – not just the religious community. The strength of our community is in our diversity and in our togetherness.
Jewish Care’s values are universal and enduring in nature, but are also particular to the Jewish approach to creating a meaningful life and a strong, cohesive community. Our values define who we are and underpin everything we do.
TS: Why do you think change is so important?
BA: If we are not changing, we are going backwards. Jewish Care is a provider of many different services to the Victorian Jewish community. A number of these sectors are navigating once-in-a-generation reform. We are moving from agency-funded services to person-funded services both in aged care and disability. Ultimately this will mean clients are empowered and self-determining. They will make purchasing decisions based on price and quality. To thrive in this environment we need to be explicit about our value proposition in the market.
Additionally, the needs of our community continually change, therefore the type of services we provide need constant calibration if we are to remain relevant to our community for another 168 years. We need to understand our community well through research and have a solid evidence base for all that we do.
TS: Could you tell us a little bit about the Jewish NFP sector? Do you feel the government should be doing more to help this sector?
BA: The Jewish community is extremely fortunate to have a vast network of NFP communal organisations supporting and enhancing wellbeing, learning, connectedness and cultural and religious identity. The vast majority of these organisations only exist because of the philanthropic generosity of the community.
Whilst we are extremely fortunate to live in a comparatively lucky country like Australia, the fact is there are many families struggling to make ends meet. I think we can all be doing more. At a government level in certain areas including taxation reform, at a corporation level in terms of corporate social responsibility and I think at an individual level we could be doing more in terms of financial support. Imagine if every Australian went without one coffee a week and donated their $4 to charity!
It is in everyone’s interest to create a strong, safe and socially cohesive Australia. And, it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute towards this.
TS: Where does Jewish Care receive most of its funding? Is it difficult to obtain these funds?
BA: Jewish Care’s turnover this financial year is around $69 million, of which around 6 per cent will be through philanthropy and the balance via government and client contributions. Jewish Care is investing around $3.7 million into unfunded or poorly funded services to our community – we call this our social justice contribution.
Securing donations to support operations is becoming increasingly difficult as the philanthropic space is extremely competitive – there are more sophisticated donors looking for a social return on investment. There is also a generational paradigm shift in how people give. Organisations need to adapt to the new landscape if their operations rely on philanthropy.
TS: What are your hopes for yourself and for Jewish Care for the future?
BA: My hope for myself is to continually develop as a leader and be able to create organisational learning cultures wherever I am, that support growth and capacity building in others.
My hope for Jewish Care is that it continually evolves and remains relevant to its community and mission. More immediate is the delivery of our $200 million renewal program so that we can deliver on the service needs of the next generation of clients and families.
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