Youth services forum facilitated in the Macedon Ranges

On 24 June the first integrated service delivery forum for youth services provided the opportunity for youth-friendly practitioners in the Macedon Ranges to discuss the issues and challenges involved in working with young people.

Representatives from local schools, medical clinics, community health organisations, council, the Local Learning and Employment Network and the Department of Education & Early Childhood Development spent the morning sharing experiences and discussing strategies to ensure best practice service delivery for young people.

The forum focused on ways to ensure a coordinated approach to service delivery for young people in the Macedon Ranges. Many great ideas were generated and a working party has been established to explore these further and make recommendations.

Among the key ideas to be considered will be common referral forms for young people seeking access to services in the Shire and the provision of up-to-date service contact details, including the use of technology to enhance communication of service information.

The forum was organised by the Macedon Ranges Youth Alliance, which was established two years ago by Cobaw Community Health in consultation with Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Central Ranges Local Learning and Employment Network, Kyneton Secondary College, Gisborne Secondary College, Sacred Heart College, Kyneton Community & Learning Centre, Victoria Police and Kyneton Primary School.

Business Excellence Award interview

Cobaw CEO Anne McLennan, Board Chair Licia Kokocinski and Corporate Services Coordinator Amity Bradford were interviewed by 100.7 Highlands FM following Cobaw’s win at the Powercor Macedon Ranges Business Excellence Awards last month.

Cobaw Social Pedallers still on the move

Social Pedallers

Eighteen months since inception, the Cobaw Social Pedallers continue to cycle around the beautiful Macedon Ranges and are looking for new members to join the group.

Even as the weather starts to cool, the committed Social Pedallers gather twice weekly at the Beauchamp Street skate park in Kyneton to ride together and enjoy a hot cuppa afterwards. Participants have seen the magnificent autumn leaves as they have cycled through the botanical gardens and around the Kyneton racecourse. The Social Pedallers have been touring the local area since the beginning of 2013 and have continued to gain skill, confidence and fitness each week they ride.

Cobaw Social Pedallers was established as a continuation of the AustCycle program, which aimed to develop skills in beginner riders. Rides last for approximately an hour and cover up to 25km, generally around the Kyneton area. The group has also cycled in and around Carlsruhe, Malmsbury, Woodend and Hanging Rock.

Current participants welcome any new riders who would like to dust off their bicycle, enjoy some good company and a reason to ride regularly. The more the merrier! Beginners and experienced riders all welcome.

Rides leave from Beauchamp St, Kyneton on Thursdays at 9.30am and a Sundays at 10.30am. Interested riders can collect a brochure from any Cobaw Community Health site or Macedon Ranges Shire Council in Kyneton.

For further information, please contact Cobaw Community Health on 03 5421 1666, complete the Contact Us form or visit the Social Pedallers page.

Cobaw works to maintain services in the face of funding cuts

A series of funding cutbacks by State and Federal governments has meant that all services provided by Cobaw Community Health have had to change the way they are structured or delivered in a bid to keep going.

“It is a very difficult time in community services everywhere,” said outgoing CEO Anne McLennan, who retires on 27 June after three years in the position and more than 30 years’ experience in non-government, local government and community sectors in both Victoria and Western Australia.

“We are having to make some very difficult decisions which include cutting back the amount of time services can stay open each week, and which services can continue to be free for everyone, or where a fee for service can be offered for those able to pay a modest fee,” she said.

While some cuts are still to be passed, they have been the subject of budget announcements and expected to take effect by the end of 2014. For example, Youth Connections, a Federally funded program to support young people disadvantaged through leaving school early to gain employment, has been cut, which means Cobaw will no longer be able to provide the program. In doubt beyond December is federal funding that currently supports services or programs in parenting, emergency relief and young people.

By the end of June State funding ends which enables Cobaw to provide the Diabetes education program, along with home and community care funding (to support older people in the community to live independently). Funding for a number of other services are in doubt, including money for some allied health services such as speech pathology and cardiac rehabilitation, and money for youth crisis support services.

“We have tried everything we can to maintain our current funding sources for programs and in some cases we have been successful. But there is not growth in the available pool of money and competition for funding has vastly increased,” said Ms McLennan.

“Our priority is to keep services open and the maintain service levels, but it means we have to make some very difficult decisions along the way. We are planning for the long term to ensure that local services remain accessible to local people,” she concluded.

Ms Margaret McDonald has been appointed CEO of Cobaw Community Health from Ms McLennan’s departure on 27 June.

Governance Excellence Award Finalist

Cobaw is proud to be one of the five finalists in the Australian Centre for Healthcare Governance (ACHG) 2014 Governance Excellence Award. This inaugural award showcased outstanding contributions to strengthening the governance of publicly-funded health and community services.

Cobaw was nominated for its Board Decision Template which was introduced to reduce the time spent at board meetings, improve transparency and traceability, and reduce the workload for staff preparing material for decisions.

Board member Andrew Hynson was congratulated for being a finalist by the Victorian Minister for Health David Davis at the ACHG conference on May 14.

Andrew Hynson and David Davis

Whitehorse Community Health was the successful winner of the award.

Award finalists


Cobaw and Bendigo Community Health in negotiations

The Boards of Bendigo Community Health Services and Cobaw Community Health are pleased to announce that they have entered into negotiations to merge the two organisations.

Bendigo Community Health Services and Cobaw Community Health are not-for-profit organisations offering a range of primary and community health services, many of which are free or have minimal cost making them available to those in need.

“We are exploring the possibility of joining together the two organisations as a way of ensuring our services can adapt to the changing needs of our communities, said Anne McLennan, CEO Cobaw Community Health. “We see this is a moment of great opportunity – for our services and programs, and our staff.”

“Our shared priority is to ensure that the best interests and outcomes for our communities are central to any final decision. Our organisations have worked together on a range of initiatives over the recent years and we know that we share similar values, ways of working and commitment to local, place-based responses to community need. We believe we can achieve even more by formally coming together and our boards have commenced due diligence processes to inform future recommendations.” Kim Sykes, CEO Bendigo Community Health Services.

Both CEO’s noted that discussions will continue with the best interests and needs of the communities the main priority. Decisions made, including the final decision will be motivated by that priority, as well as consideration of a range of other matters.

Staff, stakeholders, company members and communities will be kept informed as discussions progress.


Cobaw’s Mollison Place site sold

Cobaw Community Health CEO has confirmed their property in Mollison Place has been sold and will settle in late June. Mollison Place has been home to the Kyneton Men’s Shed for more than 10 years.

“The terrific thing about the sale is that the new owner is happy to lease back the Men’s Shed to Cobaw,” said CEO Anne McLennan. “This means the future of the Shed in the site is secure for at least another three years, being the term of the lease.”

Mid last year Cobaw decided to put the 9,055 m2 industrially zoned property on the market. Apart from the Men’s Shed the remainder of the site was no longer suitable for the services Cobaw operates. One of the other buildings on site had been home to Cobaw’s Social Support and Respite program. However during 2013 and early 2014 these programs were progressively transferred to community settings in line with current Government policy directions that promote active aging and community involvement. In addition essential works required to meet legislative requirements to the building at Mollison Place used by the Social Support programs were cost prohibitive.

“Cobaw now aims to promote even more participation in the Men’s Shed,” said Anne. “The Shed offers a supportive place for men to go to develop friendships, learn new skills and generally enjoy time with others.”

New Cobaw Website 2014

Cobaw’s Community Health Services new website went live on Friday 31 January.

Cobaw’s CEO Anne McLennan said “The new website at provides our users and community access to more information that is much easier to navigate.”

The site details the range of services offered by Cobaw and how to access them along with information on how Cobaw is governed, its history and its partners. Employment opportunities will be listed on the site along with regular updates about new programs and initiatives.

The new website is just one of many IT improvements being rolled out by Cobaw. In 2013 the Cobaw Board adopted an Information and Communications Technology Strategic (ICT) Plan that sets the direction for much improved ICT over a three year period.

One of the major initiatives is a new client management software program that went live in January. “The software will be progressively implemented over 6 months as staff are trained and become confident in its use” said Anne.”The software will enable Cobaw to provide improved care planning, referrals and integrated care”. The program will collect much more sophisticated, in depth data so it will enable better planning, management of resources and responsiveness to community need.

Cobaw is also progressively moving to using mobile tablets in the field. These will enable staff to work more effectively and have access to the information they need whilst on the road throughout the shire. “EHealth is the way of the future” says Anne “so the more Cobaw can develop its capacity in mobile computing the more we will be able to move to other EHealth initiatives such as video consultations and in home monitoring.”

The plan also aims to improve the quality of existing PC’s, increase bandwidth to increase speed of the systems in place and improve a range of other essential software programs such as payroll, HR and financial management.

Media inquiries: Anne McLennan, CEO, 03 5421 1666

Cobaw Moves To Improve & Expand Services

Key health and support services in the Macedon Ranges are set to expand, with the announcement that Cobaw Community Health will relocate its allied health team of 12 into the space at Kyneton District Health (Kyneton Hospital).

The move is likely to happen by the end of the November. Cobaw will retain its other service sites, including those in Woodend, Romsey Hub, and Kyneton and is looking to expand further in the Macedon Ranges.

Cobaw is an independent not for profit company which currently provides services across 5 sites in the district, employing 90 staff. But increasing services to meet demand has put the squeeze on accommodating the staff of clinicians, counsellors, therapists and support workers – and their clients.

“We’re excited about the move of part of our team to new premises,” said Anne McLennan, CEO, Cobaw. “It’s been part of our long term accommodation plan which takes into account the services we must add to our existing offering to meet the changing and growing community needs.” Cobaw is already a key allied health care provider for patients at the hospital, providing physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and dietician and diabetes education services. The move to take up space in the hospital will provide easier access between patients and Cobaw staff, as well as a link to Cobaw’s extended support services where they are needed.

Exercise physiology, podiatry and expansion to existing services that attract Medicare and private health insurance rebates are part of the service expansion plan, which includes the hospital site growing into a Health and Well-being Precinct, retaining the central Kyneton shopfront presence and developing stronger partnerships with Macedon Ranges Health and Romsey Lancefield Community Bank to improve service coverage across the region.

The Mollison Street, Kyneton, site is currently for sale, but the programs will continue to operate.

“We’re currently working with the Men’s Shed for the best accommodation option as we are committed to not only retaining this much loved program, but expanding it,” said Ms McLennan.

“This move to locate some services at the hospital site is part of our ambition to not only expand services, employ more people and service more people in the region, but to improve the facilities and accommodation we currently have to ensure it’s up to standard and accessible,” said Ms McLennan. 

Cobaw’s Strategic Accommodation Plan, which describes the long term infrastructure development to support its Strategic Plan is available on the website.

Media inquiries: Anne McLennan, CEO, 03 5421 1666