'Programs won't change' in St Luke's, Anglicare merger

IT'S OFFICIAL: President of St Luke's board and Anglican Bishop of Bendigo Andrew Curnow. Picture: PETER WEAVING

IT'S OFFICIAL: President of St Luke's board and Anglican Bishop of Bendigo Andrew Curnow. Picture: PETER WEAVING

BISHOP Andrew Curnow says St Luke's decision to merge with Anglicare Victoria will not make any difference to clients or existing programs.

His comments come in the wake of yesterday's confirmation the two  organisations will merge as of July 1. 

Bishop Curnow said St Luke's would keep its name, offices and staff.

"Nobody will really notice much difference at all," he said. 

Bishop Curnow said there were two measures that would ensure the needs of the Loddon-Mallee region would continue to be met. 

"Anglicare Victoria will maintain a significant regional office in Bendigo and there will be two members of the St Luke's board joining the board of Anglicare," he said.

St Luke's offers 70 services in regional Victoria and New South Wales including youth housing, educational support, parenting support and mental health services.

Bishop Curnow said changes to St Luke's would be financial and structural.

"We are looking to give St Luke's a much more sustainable financial future because in recent times St Luke's has struggled financially."

He said merging with an agency with deeper pockets would ensure a greater capacity for services to grow.

Anglicare Victoria chief executive Paul McDonald said his organisation's intention was to strengthen St Luke's existing services.

"We come with the view that good local responses are the best for the local community," Mr McDonald said. "We wouldn't be doing our job if we weren't serving the local community."

"This is about the Loddon-Mallee area, this isn't about us."

Bishop Curnow said, according to new structural change at the Department of Human Services, the Loddon-Mallee region didn't exist anymore and had been made part of the 'Northern region'.

He said this was another reason why it was a good strategic decision to be in a relationship with a much larger agency.

Both Bishop Curnow and Mr McDonald said it was a joint decision after many months of discussion in light of shifting government priorities and reform of the welfare sector.

"St Luke's does a great job in the community and this is just a fantastic opportunity for two like-minded organisations to join forces," Mr McDonald said.

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