Annual report 2023

Reshaping Australia’s future

A message from our Chair

BSL Board Chair Stephen Newton
Stephen Newton AO,
Chair of the Board

'My interest is in the future because I am going to spend the rest of my life there.' – Charles F Kettering (1876–1958)

For more than nine decades, BSL has sought to be the fence at the top of the cliff, not the ambulance at the bottom. Our enduring focus has always been on shaping that better future for our nation.

As we look ahead to our centenary in 2030, we want to not only meet the immediate needs of people and communities experiencing disadvantage, but to make lasting change that both empowers people to live the lives they choose and enables them to determine their own futures.

We want to build compelling evidence to reform policy, practice, and systems. Most of all, we must advance an ambitious national agenda to prevent and eliminate all forms of poverty.  

A key piece of work to help us achieve this has been our Strategy 2030. Developed over the past year through a strongly collaborative process, we sought insights and input from BSL Board members, staff, volunteers, partners, participants and supporters, across our programs.

As we bring this strategy to life over the coming years, we will continue to work towards a fair Australia – by leading the way on policy reform, through strong partnerships with communities, and in the quality of our services that meet the needs of the people we serve.

This year the Board farewelled two Board Directors: Dr Stephen Duckett AM, whose roles across his many years of service included both Board Chair and Founding Chair of the Board’s Quality and Care Governance Committee, and Ms Zac Hatzantonis, who has contributed her expertise as a Board member since 2018. We thank them sincerely for their dedication and service to BSL. We were also delighted to welcome four new Board Directors: Tony Keenan, Michael Langhammer, Rowan McRae and Bishop Alison Taylor AM.

It is our team of staff and volunteers led so strongly by our Executive Director, Travers McLeod, who together with our partners, donors and supporters, make everything at BSL happen. I thank each of them for their immense dedication, commitment and life-changing work over the past year.  

And as we look towards 2030, our focus remains unwavering: to reshape Australia’s future – as a country free of poverty.

‘Our enduring focus has always been on shaping that better future for our nation.’
Stephen Newton AO,
Chair of the Board

A message from our Executive Director

BSL Executive Director Travis McLeod
Travers McLeod,
Executive Director

Australia is at a pivotal moment. The decisions we make now will shape our future and the Australia we want for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren. I’m proud of how BSL is driving these decisions and an ambitious national agenda to end poverty in all its forms.

Over the past year, BSL’s research and policy leadership has continued to influence major national reforms to employment services, skills, social security, early years and disability systems. We participated in pivotal forums including the federal government’s Jobs and Skills Summit, the Early Years Summit, and the Economic Inclusion Advisory Committee. What was particularly significant was how the voices of our participants informed each of these opportunities for impact. Throughout this work, we have driven a commitment to supporting and enabling the capabilities of people and communities to reshape their future.

Our programs continue to demonstrate, deliver and spread effective responses that empower people to live the life they aspire to. Some major milestones this year included the official opening of our Clifton Hill Residential Aged Care Facility, 15 years of supporting disadvantaged job seekers into paid employment through Given the Chance in partnership with ANZ, and 25 years of HIPPY – the Home Interaction Program for Parents and Youngsters – boosting parents’ confidence and capabilities to support their children’s development.

Another focus has been reconciliation. BSL has accepted the generous offer in the Uluru Statement to walk together for a better future and we lifted our voices in support of an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.

Looking ahead, we’re excited to have a new strategy to guide BSL’s agenda towards 2030 and our 100th anniversary. The strategy lays the foundations for us to have more impact. At its heart is a commitment to ‘One BSL’, working as a collaborative and integrated organisation that is greater than the sum of our parts.

To help us put our Strategy 2030 into practice, three leaders have joined our executive team: Karli Middlewood as Chief Operating Officer, Julie Ware as Chief Services Officer, and Zeah Behrend as Chief Strategy and Impact Officer. Our new leadership structure will help BSL amplify our reach, grow our capability, and bring our services together for greater innovation and impact.

None of BSL’s work would be possible without our brilliant team of staff, volunteers, partners, participants, supporters. and the Board. I’m grateful to all of you for backing us and helping shape an Australia free of poverty, as we work towards a better future for everyone.

‘I’m proud of how BSL is driving an ambitious national agenda to end poverty in all its forms.’
Travers McLeod,
Executive Director