After 12 years in the Diocese Jeremy Halcrow has resigned as the CEO of Anglicare. During his Presidential Address at the Diocesan Synod, Bishop Mark presented a framed Bishop’s Commendation Certificate to Jeremy, with the following words:
Mr Jeremy Halcrow’s passion for justice and Jesus has been evident during his service with Anglicare NSW South, NSW West and ACT, first as Director for Communications and Strategic Partnerships, and for the past nine years as CEO. Jeremy has modelled the Anglicare values of dignity, inclusiveness, compassion and integrity. He has been a dedicated team player, building bridges between Anglicare and other aspects of the Diocese. His expertise has been recognised by his peers in the welfare sector and the Anglicare Australia network and will ensure he continues to make an impact in his new Canberra-based role with The Benevolent Society.
Anglican News asked Jeremy some questions about his time in the Diocese and future plans.
How long have you been in the Diocese and working for Anglicare? What brought you to work for the Diocese and then Anglicare?
My first role with an Anglicare agency was as communications officer at Anglicare (Diocese of Sydney) in 1996, 26 years ago, when it was still called Anglican Home Mission Society. Later I became public affairs manager there, overseeing a team responsible for advocacy campaigns as well as media and government relations. In 2010 I applied for the executive role of Director of Communications and Strategic Partnerships at Anglicare (Canberra & Goulburn) when the Reverend Peter Sandeman was CEO. Relocating my family to Canberra, I started in this role overseeing media and government relations, research, advocacy, fundraising and Op Shops at the beginning of January 2011. This role was designed with shared communications functions with the Diocese, and so I also supported Bishop Stuart Robinson with his media liaison needs. Apart from feeling called to this role, an attractor to this Diocese was family connections, with my in-laws serving as priests here. And although I am stepping down as leader of Anglicare, myself and my wife Kate and our sons are not relocating and we will stay part of the Canberra community.
What are you doing next?
I have been appointed Executive Director, Strategy and Quality at The Benevolent Society. So it is a community sector role similar to Anglicare. My hope is to develop some national experience, with the organisation operating across nearly every state and territory.
What have been some of the biggest challenges of your time here?
My first year as CEO felt like a baptism of fire. They say mergers and acquisitions are the most complex task a CEO can undertake and selling Anglicare’s residential aged care portfolio to RSL LifeCare was indeed a massive undertaking. It was completed by July 2014 but had taken nearly two years. That said I need to acknowledge it was very much a team effort noting the focus and hard work of the Diocesan Registrar Trevor Ament and active support and leadership of Bishop Stuart Robinson, Bishop Stephen Pickard, who was interim CEO for a year, and Board Chair at that time, Professor Ingrid Moses. More recently there has been the challenge of supporting staff and volunteers through the trauma of the Black Summer bushfires and then two years of the pandemic with constantly changing Government requirements. Unlike other Diocesan agencies we have a diverse range of services and geography across nearly 80 worksites with staff living across three jurisdictions: ACT, NSW including western Sydney and Victoria in Albury-Wodonga.
What are some of the projects or strategies you are most proud of implementing?
It’s been exciting to see Anglicare beginning to move beyond transactional relationships with parishes, where we might, for example, rent office space or lend a parish op shop the Anglicare brand, towards genuine partnership in mission where we are co-designing social enterprises. One model is the Gordon Community Centre with Lanyon Valley Anglican Church which looks set to birth the Little Luxton café. Another is the ‘rural chaplain’ model. In 2017 we recruited the Reverend Michael Palmer to pilot this model in Eden. His brief was simply to listen to the local community and explore with them opportunities to address social needs. Developing relationships with the local Aboriginal church, the local high school and other community groups has seen the development of the Eden Canoes project. In this project, young people who are at risk of disengaging from school are supported to build their own canoes and then paddle them up the Eden river for an Aboriginal cultural experience. The hope is that Eden Canoes will become self-funding and can be replicated elsewhere in NSW. We have also now been able to replicate the rural chaplain approach in Bathurst, where Baz Porter is developing a ministry to people leaving prison.
I am also proud that we have sustained our financial turnaround to the extent we can now invest in social impact initiatives. Anglicare has run operational surpluses in every year since we announced the residential aged care divestment in 2013. The disciplined work on financial turnaround across the past decade now means we have sufficient reserves to both treat foreseeable financial risks and invest in social impact, by funding research and development into program innovation. Last year the Anglicare Board created a Social Innovation Fund to invest in the development of new programs to make a difference to the vulnerable people we serve. The first project funded was the Starting FRESH program in Wagga, which works with young people who may be at risk of disengaging from school and involves a fitness program, healthy breakfast and transport to school. An independent evaluation helped provide the evidence base which has seen the program expanded to the Snowy Valleys with Commonwealth bushfire recovery funding. Lastly, I am proud of our strong staff morale and healthy organisational culture that Anglicare has developed over the past decade. Tools associated with the trauma-informed model Sanctuary, including the discipline of daily community meetings, provided a bedrock of robust workplace practices that held us strongly through the Black Summer bushfires of 2019/20 and then the pandemic. This was reflected in our biannual staff survey finding that at the height of COVID, 76 per cent of staff said Anglicare ‘is a truly great place to work’. Meanwhile our Staff Pulse Survey earlier this year has tracked the significant improvement in key measures since Sanctuary was introduced in 2018. In particular 73% of staff earlier this year said they ‘have a strong sense of being valued’ by Anglicare compared to 61% in 2018. We look forward to being certified as a Sanctuary agency later in 2022.
What will you miss most?
I have had such a wonderfully supportive Executive and Board. It’s been a privilege to lead within a Christian community, where there is genuinely prayerful support for each other. I have deeply appreciated the godly wisdom, pastoral care and spiritual discipleship of Board members and senior leaders of the Diocese over the years.