CEO Cheryl Holmes delivered this report at Spiritual Health Association's AGM on 20th October 2023.

This year brings to a conclusion our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan. The previous plan was devised for 2018-2022 but as with many things, in 2020 it became obvious that we needed to revise our directions, as so much changed as we moved through the pandemic. 

The pandemic highlighted what we’ve known for so long – the variation that exists in how spiritual care is valued, integrated and delivered across our health services. This was seen nationally and internationally, and SHA was able to partner with international colleagues to demonstrate and publish what the pandemic revealed about our field and the challenges faced by the sector.

As stated in the opening lines of our 2021-2023 Strategic Plan, “at the heart of our Strategic Plan 2021-2023 is the inspiration to create a model for safe, high-quality and person-centred spiritual care that can be fully integrated in health services by 30 June 2023, or put simply, ‘Quality and excellence in spiritual care’”. 

We believed that the issues and challenges already known, but further uncovered during the pandemic, could be addressed by engaging across the system to co-design an agreed and consistent model – which we delivered in March this year.

We also recognised that building the capability, leadership capacity and diversity of the spiritual care workforce would be key in delivering greater consistency and value for all people across all health services.

Through education, research, presentations, publications, standards and resource development, we have been fostering a deeper appreciation and recognition for spirituality as a fundamental domain of health. We have also brought all of this to our advocacy for the inclusion of spiritual care as an essential component of holistic healthcare across health, mental health, and palliative care. Our partnerships nationally and internationally in this work have been significant and I want to offer my deepest appreciation to every individual and organisation who has worked with us throughout this time. Thank you. 

As many of you are aware, this past year presented us with a funding challenge when we learnt that our support from the Victorian Government would conclude in June 2023. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to our members who supported us in advocating for an extension until June 2024. I also record my thanks to Safer Care Victoria who continue to work with us in considering our future.

As we go forward, we remain committed to our advocacy for spiritual care not only in Victorian health services but across Australia. Together, with your continued support and our collective voice, we will seek avenues of funding that align with our vision for a nationally consistent approach to how spiritual care is understood, valued and integrated into healthcare. 

Even in the midst of uncertainty this has been an exceptional year for SHA, as has been said to us on more than one occasion, we continue to punch above our weight! For a small team our output and impact is quite remarkable, even if I do say so myself! Thanks to all who worked as part of the staff team in this past year – it is such a joy to work alongside you. 

Finally, my thanks to the board. In times that have been both challenging and rewarding, their leadership and vision has been invaluable. The relationship between the board and CEO is vital for the health of the organisation and I am so grateful for the trust and openness to all possibilities that has defined our work together.

So, let’s celebrate as we take a look at what has been achieved in this past year and the planning already underway for the current year. I hope this short video of Welcome to the Annual Report will act as a taster that will make you want to read more!