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.

Cobaw wins Excellence in Wellbeing Service award

Cobaw is proud to announce the organisation has won the award for Excellence in Wellbeing Service at the 2014 Powercor Macedon Ranges Business Excellence Awards.

The awards recognise deserving community businesses and individuals for their outstanding service, innovation, product and professionalism.

Thank you to all Cobaw staff and volunteers for their invaluable contribution to the organisation, and to the Macedon Ranges community for your support.

Business Excellence AwardsBusiness Excellence Awards

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’s New Facebook page

Cobaw Community Health is excited to launch a new Facebook page at

The Facebook page aims to increase and improve communication and engagement with consumers, communities and networks, and is a great platform for sharing information and promoting key messages.

Cobaw Community Health Services Ltd

Promote Your Page Too

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.”

Mother Goose – Term 2 Program

Term Two commences 29th April 2014

Mother GooseThe program focuses on teaching interactive rhymes and songs to parents and children. Spend quality time with your child and enjoy watching as you see how you can positively affect how they behave and learn.

Gain a repertoire of rhymes, songs and stories over the term that can be used in many situations to calm, entertain and connect with your child.

This free program will be running in term two in Woodend at:

Cobaw Community Hub
Address: 47 Forest Street, Woodend
Time: 10.00 – 11.00am


Please note, prior registration is essential due to limited places.
Contact: Linda Lynch on 03 5421 1666

For further information, please see the following document:

National Youth Week Competition

Cobaw Community Health in partnership with Highlands FM would like to announce our National Youth Week Competition 2014.

National Youth WeekThe competition theme is, “All Shapes and Sizes”.

Submit a creative piece using the theme “All Shapes and Sizes” in photo, music, short film (max. 3 mins), poetry or song, and you could win one of 9 x $100 visa gift cards or an iPad.

For further information, please see the following documents:



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

Social Support Will Relaunch Its Programs

Social Support will relaunch its programs at Cobaw’s Beauchamp Street site commencing Monday 13 January 2014 and will feature a changing display of artwork from community based artists in the program room. The new space is intended to create visual interest for groups, generate conversations, and provide an opportunity for local people to display artwork. Artists interested in using the space can contact Caroline Sarah, Community Access and Support Coordinator on 03 5421 1666.

A new Social Support & Respite program will operate from Romsey beginning Friday 17 January 201410.30am-2.30pm every week. There are currently some vacancies in this program.

Social Support & Respite currently have vacancies in the Monday Woodend group, Friday DIY group Tuesday in house, and Wednesday in house programs. For future information on this service, please see the Social Support & Respite page.