Organisation Updates

Updates about Deaf Children Australia, the property and other aspects of our organisation.

The Directors of Deaf Children Australia are pleased to announce the appointment of Roz Keenan as the CEO for the coming 12 months.

Roz has shown strong leadership in the Acting CEO role since early August and we are thrilled that she has accepted the role of CEO for the coming year.

Roz combines so much knowledge from a governance perspective, a lived experience and an operational perspective from her recent experience in the Acting CEO role. While the operating environment is changing rapidly through the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, she has enabled a smooth transition during a critical period of DCA’s development. Working collaboratively with DCA’s Leadership team, Roz will be able to continue the momentum in DCA’s development which is required at this time. This is an exciting period in consolidating DCA’s strategic directions to invest in our future.

Roz has a wealth of experience as a strong advocate working in the disability sector for 16 years. She played a key role as a DCA staff member for eight years, and since leaving the operations role with DCA, she has served on the DCA Board for the past four years. She holds a Diploma of Teaching Early Childhood, a Certificate IV in Training and Assessment and a Diploma of Life Coaching.

As a mother of 3 young adults, one of whom is profoundly deaf, Roz is committed to empowering and supporting deaf and hard of hearing children, young people and their families through this challenging time and into the future.

Should you have any questions or wish to discuss this appointment or DCA’s future further, please contact Paul Richardson at paul.richardson@deafchildren.org.au or phone DCA Reception on (03) 9539 5300.

Vicdeaf and Deaf Children Australia (DCA) would like to share more detailed information for anyone interested in attending the community consultations about the Deaf Centre.

Brent Phillips (Vicdeaf) and Paula Thornton (DCA) appear in this captioned Auslan video which provides background information and asks a number of questions for consideration ahead of the sessions. The first consultation events are coming up soon on 4 June and 6 June.

The first session from 1 – 4pm on Saturday 4 June will be held at the FJ Rose Auditorium, Deaf Children Australia, 597 St Kilda Rd Melbourne. Parking is available in DCA’s car park off High St.

Please RSVP and email any questions you want addressed at the consultation to: deafcentre@deafchildren.org.au

The second session from 7 – 9pm on Monday 6 June will be livestreamed by Vicdeaf and will seek feedback from those who live in regional areas as well. Please email your RSVP and any questions you have to deafcentre@vicdeaf.com.au

We will have a separate session in July especially for young people 14 to 23 years of age, and another session in August or September for those people who are representing organisations in the Deaf sector.

We want people to come to the session that’s right for them and let us know what programs, activities and services you want in a Deaf Centre. Please get involved!

View the flyer.

Vicdeaf and Deaf Children Australia (DCA) would like to share an update about our co-location and the work we have done to date. Brent Phillips (Vicdeaf) and Dean Barton-Smith (DCA) tell you more and ask for your input at upcoming community consultations about what you think a Deaf Centre should include. Watch the captioned Auslan video for more information or read the transcript.

Vicdeaf and Deaf Children Australia (DCA) would like to share the Deaf Community Centre research report, along with Brent Phillips’ interview with one of the researchers, Dr Gabrielle Hodge. Gabrielle explains the consideration of different models of Deaf Centres around the world to enable us to develop a model here in Victoria that would better serve the needs of our Deaf community, along with deaf and hard of hearing adults and children, young people and their families.

Vicdeaf and Deaf Children Australia are pleased to provide an update about the co-location between both organisations. We look forward to updating you more in the new year.

The Board of Deaf Children Australia in consultation with the Senior Executive Team, staff and stakeholders, has been engaged on a strategic planning exercise that is designed to reposition DCA to enable us to strengthen our service capabilities, and respond to the challenges and opportunities ahead. Through this process, the Board has come to an understanding that the time is right for a change. On that basis the Board and Chief Executive Officer Damian Lacey have agreed to part company in a manner that is reflective of Damian’s wishes and the commitment demonstrated by him over the past 20 years.

Please view the Auslan statement or the full text version of this announcement below.

Damian is taking personal leave, effective immediately, and intends to move on from DCA to pursue other opportunities later in the year.

The Board extends to Damian and his family our best wishes and would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge his commitment and dedication to empowering generations of children and young people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Damian has poured his energies into the deaf sector for the past 37 years. Leading Deaf Children Australia for 20 years is a feat of endurance, dedication and commitment to the deaf community that is unlikely to be equalled.

Under Damian’s leadership, Deaf Children Australia has achieved many remarkable results. It has grown from its Victorian base into a national organisation. DCA is a financially secure not for profit that will respond positively to the challenges and opportunities presented by the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). We are excited by the new potential the NDIS offers to the children and young people with whom we work.

Through our capable staff, DCA will continue to advocate for the best possible outcomes for deaf and hard of hearing children and their families, and will draw upon the legacy of Damian’s leadership as we look to the future.

We are sure that many young people, families and members of the Deaf community would like to join us in expressing our gratitude to Damian for his tireless dedication and his passion for helping so many children and young people reach their potential.

The Board will be announcing transitional arrangements after we have had the opportunity to discuss with staff the plans and opportunities going forward.

We look forward to updating you on Deaf Children Australia’s future directions.

Deaf Children Australia (DCA) and the Victorian Deaf Society (Vicdeaf) are pleased to announce our intention to co-locate and establish a Deaf Centre to better serve the needs of the Deaf community, along with deaf and hard of hearing children, young people and their families.

After rigorous independent investigation and expert advice, the Boards of both Vicdeaf and DCA recognise that by working more closely, we will be able to better service deaf people across all ages to become better connected, informed, empowered and supported.

View the joint announcement below or read the printed communique.

Deaf Children Australia and Wesley College are pleased to announce the sale of part of DCA’s property located at 597 St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

The area subject to the sale, and purchased by Wesley College, comprises part of the rear car park area only, which is currently accessible from High Street. Click to view the full media release.

The attached site map indicates the “Clear Title” land which is that part of our property subject to a sale agreement with Wesley College.

As part of the agreement we have negotiated a leaseback agreement for the section of the Tradeblock building for a further 8 years as it is part of the lease agreement for VCD. In addition, we have agreed a right of way over the sold portion to enable entry and exit to the balance of the carpark we will continue to own. This agreement will extend until Wesley have plans approved to build on the site. It is expected that no major work will be undertaken within the next 7 years.

Deaf Children Australia (DCA) has been reviewing its property strategy for 597 St Kilda Road, Melbourne over the past 18 months with the professional and independent assistance of Ernst & Young, Real Estate Advisory Services.

A two-staged “Expression of Interest” process was commenced in late 2014 by Ernst & Young to secure a long-term partner for the site. The process was underpinned by the following guiding principles and requirements:

  • Preservation of deaf education on site
  • Preservation of a “sense of place” for the deaf and hard of hearing community
  • Long-term financial security for DCA
  • Continued and expanded service delivery opportunities for the organisation

As part of this process, the site was considered by the Victorian State Government for a future Prahran High School.

Deaf Children Australia welcomed the State Government’s participation in the process, and identified numerous complementary benefits and outcomes that could be achieved with close collaboration.

Last week, the negotiation process was concluded as an agreement could not be reached between the parties. Deaf Children Australia CEO Damian Lacey states, “From DCA’s perspective, the offer put forward by the State Government was uncommercial, did not meet our guiding principles and could not be progressed any further. We accept the State Governmment’s decision but are disappointed for the Victorian College for the Deaf who had been looking forward to the establishment of a co-located high school on the site.

“In light of the conclusion of negotiations, Deaf Children Australia is in the process of progressing opportunities for a portion of land at the rear of the property. A further announcement will be made shortly.

“The DCA Board appreciates the State Government’s interest and participation in the process, and welcomes further dialogue going forward.

“Deaf Children Australia currently leases a portion of the property to the State Government to enable the Victorian College for the Deaf to operate on the historic property. The Board of Deaf Children Australia is still committed to supporting Victorian College for the Deaf, has offered an extension to this current lease, and seeks to formalise a commercial agreement with the State Government in this regard.”

This media statement was issued in response to the ‘Labor Government Moves Ahead with a High School in Prahran’ media release issued by the Minister for Education, James Merlino. Read The Age coverage and the Leader Newspapers coverage of this issue. You may also want to read the Victorian Deaf Education Institute’s announcement.

Deaf Children Australia’s  CEO Damian Lacey would like to provide an update on the property. After this statement, you may be interested in reading the related Age article which has just been published.

Damian stated: “Deaf Children Australia (advised by Ernst & Young Real Estate Advisory Services) are conducting a process in relation to our historic property at 597 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. These discussions with a number of complementary short-listed parties are underpinned by a number of threshold DCA principles including the preservation of deaf education and the legacy of property to the deaf community.

Commencing in 1913, we have worked in partnership with the Victorian State Education Department to ensure the provision of deaf education on this site. The Victorian College for the Deaf (VCD) was once the only option for deaf education – and it remains one of the important options – in our state.

Deaf Children Australia remains committed to supporting the College as exemplified by DCA incurring the cost of developing their current accommodation (at no rental / peppercorn ground lease), and payment of other associated annual property costs (including ground and building maintenance).

In context of wider changes to the charitable sector and pressures on DCA, the current arrangement is not sustainable. Combined with the demands of the historic property itself, a disproportionate share of income has had to be directed to the maintenance of DCA’s bluestone building and property (including gardens).

In order to address these increasing demands and balance our current commitments, Deaf Children Australia has invited conditional offers from various shortlisted parties. Offers must be on the basis of  ensuring continued deaf education on the site. We acknowledge the significant association that the Deaf community has to this historic property, and any offers must also protect the long term legacy of the property so a sense of place and cultural identity is maintained.

Following the conclusion of the transaction process, Deaf Children Australia will seek to make an announcement about the future of the property as soon as possible.

Deaf Children Australia looks forward to a very positive outcome to enable us to prioritise our core mission to support the wellbeing of children and young people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

DCA has always been innovative and adapted to major changes over 150 years of continuous service. We will manage this change with deep respect and consideration for the concerns of the children and young people who attend the College, along with their families and the whole Deaf community. The commercial returns from this process will be reinvested into both enhanced and additional services for the deaf community by DCA.”

Read The Age article ‘Uncertainty over Prahran High School Location’

Deaf Children Australia and Vicdeaf have put together a research team to collect and make use of information on how to best set up a joint Deaf Centre for Deaf Children Australia and Vicdeaf in the near future. They will look at Deaf Centres around the world, along with different disability and community centres. This will help us think about options for a Deaf Centre in Victoria and guide community consultations. We look forward to sharing this research with you in the future. View the Auslan clip below.

Vicdeaf and Deaf Children Australia are excited to announce a closer working relationship that will benefit our community, focusing on access to services and the development of a Deaf Centre as well.

View the Auslan clip below featuring DCA Board member Cathy Clark and Vicdeaf Board member Therese Pierce for more details.

As previously advised, the Board has appointed Ernst and Young to explore all implementation opportunities on behalf of Deaf Children Australia in regards to the sale of all or part of our property at 597 St Kilda Road Melbourne.

An Information Memorandum is being prepared and will be made available to parties that expressed an interest in pursuing the potential purchase and/or lease of all or part of our property.  The Information Memorandum will call for a detailed non-binding submission from parties including addressing “threshold” items which have been stipulated to ensure the provision of education for deaf children on the site, the protection of “a sense of place” in regards to the cultural and historical significance of the property to members of the Deaf community, and also to address  options in regards to DCA’s leaseback of office accommodation.

As part of the process of addressing our future accommodation options, Deaf Children Australia and VicDeaf have commenced a series of joint meetings to explore the possibility of co-location in the future.

Please do not hesitate to contact myself on the email below if you would like further information.
Email: officeofceo@deafchildren.org.au

Damian Lacey
Chief Executive Officer

Deaf Children Australia’s Board would like to thank everyone who contributed to the consultations and the online survey regarding DCA’s property at 597 St Kilda Road, Melbourne. The Board carefully considered all feedback, along with expert advice from Ernst & Young.

The Board has appointed Ernst & Young to explore all implementation opportunities on behalf of DCA, including potentially Option 5 and co-location opportunities. (View the Options outlined in Ernst & Young’s interim report). Underpinning the Board’s decision was the priority of investment in services and the need to support the continued growth of Deaf Children Australia to meet the needs of children and young people who are deaf and hard of hearing.

We acknowledge the significant association that people have to this historic property, and this key and important issue will remain front of mind as we explore all potential options going forward. We will explore the potential for a leaseback operation for continued occupation of the site by DCA. As part of any future opportunities to be formally considered, we will ensure that education of deaf children is wholeheartedly supported on the property. The Certificate of Title which is currently affected by a Queen’s Caveat, will continue to be protected for the preservation of part or all of the site for deaf education in perpetuity.

We expect the next phase will take several months and we will keep you informed. In the meantime, please contact Deaf Children Australia’s CEO Damian Lacey at officeofceo@deafchildren.org.au if you have any comments. For more background on this issue, read previous statements below.

Please note the property survey closed on 13 June 2014.

The Ernst & Young property project is nearing completion and is entering the final phase which is an online survey. We encourage everyone to complete this questionnaire and let others know about this opportunity to have your say.

Survey questions include:

The bluestone building requires a large amount of money (estimated in the EY report to be between $10 and $15 million based on QS advice obtained by DCA) to refurbish it to a standard that would attract tenants, provide a commercial income stream, and suitable for continued DCA use. Should DCA undertake these works, noting that this may risk the available cash reserves to fund operations and services?

Do you support DCA entering into a new arrangement with the Victorian Government to:
– Better utilise the site;
– Secure a new 30 year lease for deaf education and other potential education uses (Note: the current lease agreement with VCD expires in 2023) and
– Refurbish the bluestone building whilst preserving a space or “sense of place” for the deaf community.

Do you believe DCA should partner, work with or move together with another deaf sector organisation to establish a “Deaf Hub”?

In the Auslan statement below, DCA’s CEO Damian Lacey says:

“Hello and welcome. My name’s Damian Lacey, I am the CEO of Deaf Children Australia. This is the final stage in the Ernst & Young project. The EY report outlines five options for consideration by the DCA Board. Now, this is your opportunity to contribute your opinions on these five options. You can do this by answering a questionnaire. Before you commence the questionnaire, please look at the link for the EY report and the options attached, then complete the questionnaire. The questionnaire will be available for the next two weeks. Thank you for your contributions. The Board will receive the EY report within the following month so this represents your opportunity to make your contributions and ideas heard and for that to be considered. Thank you.”

Please view the extract from the interim Ernst & Young Report to the DCA Board outlining several options and financial implications of possible property decision options at 597 St Kilda Road.

Public Forum – Saturday 10 May 2014

9.30 AM – 12.30 PM

FJ Rose Auditorium, 597 St Kilda Rd Melbourne

Please view the extract from the interim Ernst & Young Report to the DCA Board outlining several options and financial implications of possible property decision options at 597 St Kilda Road.

All stakeholders are welcome to attend the forum.

The format of the forum will be a presentation by the DCA Board and Ernst & Young’s project team, followed by break-out discussions on a number of themes.    A concluding plenary session will then be held.

The forum is designed to ensure as many people as possible are able to have their say and contribute to the discussion.

Following the forum a Question and Answer Survey Monkey questionnaire will be released seeking further opinion on the project.

You are welcome to attend the forum and contribute to the survey, or if you are unable to attend on Saturday, please keep an eye out for the survey which will be released next week.

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