A protracted and significant contraction in Auswide Merimbula’s business has claimed a scalp at the highest level.
CEO Kevin Stevens, who has been with the organisation for about 20 years, has had his services terminated as the organisation can no longer justify the high level position in the current business climate.
On Thursday the Chair of Auswide, Peter Terry, announced that Mr Stevens would be leaving the organisation.
Auswide has been faced with a significant contraction of business over the last 18 months because of its failure to win government funded programs.
In two years it has seen its workforce slashed from 200 employees to 100 today.
Auswide Board director Libby Hepburn said it was hard for a middle sized organisation such as Auswide to compete against the bigger service providers for government funding.
Ms Hepburn said similar sized providers across Australia were facing the same challenges and neither was it something new and she referred to SERTEC in Bega that was forced to close its doors a few years ago.
Ms Hepburn, who has been on the Board for three years said it had been an “extremely difficult “period having to sack staff who had been providing an “extremely good service.”
“However our income diminished; we had to take measures to address that.
“It is difficult when you are reliant on government funding.” She regretted the fact that there had been cutbacks to some programs fundamental to the community and to those that assisted the disadvantaged.
But Ms Hepburn said Auswide continues to run a large range of programs and said there were opportunities coming with the introduction of new types of government programs.
She acknowledged that either a partnership or merger with another service provider would help shore up the future of the organisation.
“The Board is considering future options for the organisation which may include merging with a similar but larger organisation.”
Auswide will continue to operate from its Cabarita Place offices but is investigating the possibility of letting part of the building.
The Board has appointed (in an acting capacity) Tracy Hicks as Senior Manager, Operations.
Ms Hicks has been the Corporate Services manager for Auswide and prior to this has held executive positions at the Bega Valley Shire Council, federal and ACT governments.
Meetings have been held with all staff regarding the announcement and there will be communication and contact with Auswide key stakeholders in the coming days and weeks, according to Ms Hicks.
Mr Terry reassured staff and said: “From an operational perspective it is business as usual. Auswide is planning to make the best of current opportunities, not only for the company itself, but also to how the community at large can benefit from the services both new and existing that Auswide will provide going forward.”
The Board wishes to publicly thank and acknowledge the work of Mr Stevens during his lengthy tenure with Auswide.