President’s Report AGM 2022

After the two past years, which were dominated by the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, it has been a quieter year. Due to the continuing COVID restrictions and the cautious attitude of our friends, many of whom belong to the older age group, it was not feasible for the state branches to hold the usual dinners and other fund-raising activities. However, some of the branches were able to hold AGMs and organize educational seminars (SA).

Donations. The state branches continued to raise funds from their regular supporters during the year. But the total amount received was substantially less than what we received the previous year. This was only to be expected since last year was quite exceptional due to the overwhelming response to our call for donations in order to assist the CMC in its fight against the COVID pandemic in India. Many of these donations were received from non-regular supporters. There was of course the hope that some of them would continue to support us, but this does not appear to have been the case so far. In fact, the sum total of the donations received this year was the lowest since 2015. It is interesting to observe that one third of it came via Direct Debit and Pay Pal online donations. The state branches have been the main source of income in the past. It may well be that we are seeing a change in the scenario.

Transfer of Funds to CMC. As you are aware, we as a rule transfer once a year a large sum to the finance department of CMC. When we receive a donation towards a designated cause we inform the development office (this was Hugh Skeil, for many years). He was supposed to inform the finance department and they are supposed to transfer it to the intended recipient. We never questioned it and trusted everything went well until we received an email from JVP informing us that there was about A$70,000.00 lying unallocated with the finance department from the funds we have transferred over the past 3 ? 5 years. It was a real shock to us, as according to our records every dollar we sent has been accounted for. We expressed our deep concern in very strong terms and requested that there should be a better system put in place for managing the donations. Fortunately, Sandeep George, one of the people at the Development office who has taken over part of the duties of Hugh came to our rescue. Not only did he find the missing donations and sorted them out, but he also came with a solution to deal with all our future donations. On a monthly basis, all our designated donations are delt with and they are cross checked with the entry in the monthly ledger supplied by the Finance department in which all the transfer from the finance department to individual recipients are recorded. Over the past 6 months we have found that the system is working very well. Our warm thanks go to Sandeep.

There is another issue. Many donors have raised their concern that they have not received any sort of acknowledgement from any one from CMC regarding their designated donations, some of them were for a very considerable amount. We of course send them a personalised letter of thanks with the receipt and that might then be all they hear about it. I recently had a chat with Shikha Bhattacharji, another new recruit to the Development office, and she is very keen to look into this problem. What we have proposed is for an initial letter of thanks from the Deputy Director of Gifts and Grants, Development office, followed by a letter from the recipient, at some stage, with further information on how the donation was used. I am not sure how it is going to work, but it is a start. At least it has been acknowledged that there is a problem.

Regular Commitments. Over the years the Board has agreed to contribute toward certain projects which were supposed to be on an annual basis. For various reasons we have not been called to fulfill our requirements on a regular basis. COVID was one reason and other was due to the lack of continuity on the part of people in charge at the CMC end. The projects involved are the following:

1. Senior Staff Travel Fellowship
2. Allison Vickery Allied Health Travel fellowship
3. Jawadhi Hills Social Worker wages
4. Nursing Student Scholarships
5. Allied Health Student Scholarships

The first two come under the Human resources Department. Jawadhi Hills is under the Community Health Department. Nursing student is under the Nursing Department and the Allied Health Scholarships come under the Registrar, Principal?s office. Recently the Associate Director of HR, Dr. Sowmya, contacted us to discuss about formalising the arrangement regarding the travel Fellowships. We agreed that there should be an official MOU between CMC and the Australian Board. She is working on it. I believe that we should attempt to establish a similar arrangement with our other commitments for the sake of continuity.

Publicity Brochure. David will give detailed information about the latest news regarding this project. This is something we have been talking about for quite a few years. We have reached a stage it is almost ready for publication once we sort out a few final hurdles. Many thanks to David for all his arduous work and also for the input from Sharon.

Website Development. This is something we have mentioned in passing in the past. But recently we have decided that it needs urgent attention. Thus, we have obtained quote for a complete overhaul of the site with a brand-new face and all the fancy features. The Directors at their recent teleconference had a lengthy discussion and decided to recommend that we go ahead with the proposal and accept the quote. It will be discussed later in the meeting, and we hope to get the Board?s approval. The revamped website will definitely improve the image of the FOV Australia in the eyes of the public at large. We hope too that it will facilitate increased donations with the introduction of credit card and Direct Debit payment options.

Alumni and the FOV. This is another topic which crops up every time. Basically, the state branches would love to have a more active participation by the alumni in their activities. It cannot be denied that alumni are in general very generous with their contributions to various projects at CMC, especially as part of their Class group. Is there any solution for this issue? We also discussed the possibility of the Australian Alumni Association initiating their own projects to help CMC and function like any other state branch with raising donations. I do not think the alumni at large had the opportunity to discuss this proposal, so far.

Thank you. I wish to take this opportunity to thank all the members of the Board and especially the Directors for all their help during the year. I have been in constant contact with David on various matters and very much appreciate and value his contribution. I have been giving a hand to Richard with the designated donations. He has lots on his plate and does an excellent job managing the finances of both the Queensland FOV and the Board. Thank you, Richard.

It is my hope that we have a very productive meeting today.

Stephen Aseervatham
22nd October 2022

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