ST Luke’s hopes to formalise a partnership with Anglicare Victoria by July 1 next year.
Board president Bishop Andrew Curnow said the organisation was one of many welfare agencies facing difficult issues as a result of a tough economy and changing government priorities.
“Every small regional welfare agency is facing really difficult issues,’’ he said.
Bishop Curnow said the state and federal governments had made it clear there was less money for the welfare sector.
“What we all know is that the future for welfare is going to be extremely difficult,’’ he said.
“The best strategy for us was to form an alliance with a much bigger provider.
"It was to do that, or think of going into other regions ourselves beyond the Loddon Mallee.''
Whilst negotiations are in the early stages, Bishop Curnow hopes a plan will be finalised by mid-May, and the roll-out effective from July 1.
“Anglicare Victoria will become the major party responsible for the operation of our services but the name St Luke’s will be retained,’’ he said.
“We will retain a significant presence in Bendigo but we can’t say what the nature of that is.’’
Bishop Curnow said services would not be affected, and it was hoped the move would put St Luke’s in a stronger position to compete for more services.
“The synergies we share with Anglicare Victoria will allow us to pursue new service opportunities across a wider regional area,” he said.
St Luke’s announced in October it was deferring the appointment of a new chief executive officer and instead extended acting chief executive Lauren Bean's role indefinitely.
At that time, Bishop Curnow noted changes to the community sector and said further reforms were on the horizon.
St Luke’s is an agency of the Anglican Diocese of Bendigo in partnership with the Uniting Church.
The organisation has a staff of about 380 people and offers more than 70 services throughout central and northern Victoria, and southern New South Wales.
Service delivery is based on a commitment to social justice and the St Luke's approach is recognised throughout Australia and internationally as best practice.