Update on the Sands Queensland Merger

Sands Queensland Committee President, Tina Thurtel, updates on the Sands Queensland merger, 14th January 2018

Reflecting on the reasons for merging:

Sands Australia, Sands Queensland and the other states have been working in partnership for some time now. Many years of relationship building and negotiation around service delivery has taken place and in essence, the values and objectives of all of these organisations are the same, yet we have all been operating separately. During my time as President, over the past year and a half, these negotiations have focused on increasing the intensity of the cooperation by exploring a merger between all the states.

In recent times, funding bodies have also indicated the preference for providing funding to fewer, but larger service providers. Sands in some states receive funding, but not in others, which makes it unfair for bereaved parents across the country, because of this, some have access to support, resources and events and others do not. I’m sure that you would all agree that all bereaved families across Australia should have equal opportunity to access support in their darkest hours, regardless of where they live.

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Increasing the scale of Sands, to one strong organisation, working consistently across the country, will help Sands become a stronger brand, and more likely to be successful with future funding submissions and corporate donors as well as achieving greater grassroots. The whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, improving our long term financial sustainability and helping us to focus on meeting our objectives in reaching out to bereaved families who might be feeling alone.

Merging will also bring the opportunity for delivering more comprehensive services to bereaved parents across the country by streamlining processes and communication channels, increasing collaboration across the states, pooling the talents and skills of all the staff and volunteers, and sharing information in a more effective and efficient manner across all the states.

Where are we now?

After the majority of members of Sands Queensland agreed to pursue the merger last October (at the AGM) a few milestones have been reached. The new national Sands – Miscarriage, Stillbirth and Newborn Death Support Limited has finalised its constitution and been registered and some of the Directors on the Board have been appointed. Steve Maycock, a corporate lawyer, who was previously on the Sands Queensland Management Committee and the Sands Australia National Council has been appointed as the Director on the Board representing Queensland.

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Negotiations to retain our current workforce have been successful. Staff have been communicated with regarding their employment security. The management committee are now seeking consultation with paid staff regarding proposed changes to the staff/volunteer structure and roles for feedback. If any members are keen to contribute to this process, please let us know.

The Management Committee recently discussed the possibility of Sands Queensland merging with the other states at a meeting with our major funding body, Qld Health, reassuring them that funds provided for Queensland will only be used for Queensland, and the response was positive.

The Management Committee have also received legal advice on the first draft of the deed of merger and are preparing to send the feedback to Sands Australia. The deed of Merger is expected to be finalised within the next few months.

What are the next steps?

Position Descriptions, employment contracts and employee information packs will be developed for the staff to consider over the next three months. Offers of employment for our staff will be provided in April 2018.

Current members will be invited to vote on the winding up of Sands Queensland in June 2018.

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Nicole and State Manager Kate Cowmeadow (right) and parent volunteer Erin (left) at the Sands Walk to Remember

What does this mean for me?

Our expectation is that business will go on as usual during and after the merger. Support groups (face to face and online), events and activities in Queensland will continue to run with no interruption. Sands House, our paid staff and volunteers will still be available as usual.

Members that are current will have their membership transferred to the new entity.

If you have any questions or concerns please let us know.

Tina Thurtel

President Sands Queensland and National Council Member.

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