“When our finance manager left the organisation, we needed to find a new solution. We explored a number of different options and when we met the team at True Accounting we knew they understood what we needed. Engaging their services has been the best decision!”
We talked with Gloria Larman, the CEO of Women’s Justice Network (WJN), about their partnership with True Accounting and the benefits they have experienced since engaging the services of our not for profit accounting specialists.
Supporting women at risk
Founded in 2008, the Women’s Justice Network is a not for profit organisation “committed to advancing the prospects and wellbeing of women and female youth affected by the criminal justice system.”
Gloria explains the breadth of the organisation’s services,
“We are a solely women’s organisation. We have services that support women of all ages. Our youth programs focus on girls and young women from 14 to 25 years old… and our adult programs have no age restrictions.
With our youth work, we support women and girls who have come into contact with the criminal justice system, and also girls who may be at risk… those who are just known to the police… perhaps they’ve had some cautions, but who are at risk of entering the prison system.
An example of our youth programs is Healing From Within. It is based around group work through a creative mechanism. The session is facilitated by a woman who has her own lived experience at prison and we have a lot of guest speakers that have various lived experiences that are involved with this program.
In addition to Healing From Within, we also offer our My Way Youth Mentoring program. We provide trained mentors to walk alongside the young women as they either leave correctional centres or when they are already in community and require some support.
Our mentors are often called ‘professional friends’ because their work is more than just the traditional concept of mentoring.
Everything we do is guided by the client’s pace. We help them determine what they think their goals are and we support them to achieve them. And while there can be setbacks along the way, there are many wins too!
We know that having a support person in your life makes a lot of difference. For a lot of the women, they don’t have true friends they can count on… someone who is there just for them, not there to take something from them. This is the foundation of our mentoring philosophy.
Our Adult Mentoring Program is based on the same idea. Our mentors stand alongside the women, they walk with them and are there from a purely non-judgmental point of view.”
Partnering with True Accounting
For many years, WJN maintained all their accounting processes in-house, but when their finance manager left the organisation in 2019, they realised that they needed a new solution.
This is where True Accounting stepped in. We were able to provide a full range of services that would have been almost impossible to achieve through the recruitment of only one staff member. Gloria immediately recognised the benefits of the decision to engage AFG.
“When you are a small organisation each person has their specific role, and for us there was no real backup for finance. While our admin team member was able to input things into our system… they weren’t able to do reporting and all the other important processes. We knew that having no backup was quite dangerous and it really added a lot of pressure.
Moving our accounting to AFG… there’s no longer any issue, they just make it happen. They don’t go away on long holidays, or call in sick… that has been so good!
A lot of our processes are much more streamlined. We are using different systems and taking advantage of digital wherever possible has been a great improvement.
What I really like is their extensive knowledge of accounting and of course the unique nature of the NFP sector. That’s been really beneficial for us… particularly during COVID-19. They’ve helped us navigate JobKeeper and all the other stimulus schemes… we couldn’t have done that without AFG… or it would have taken us forever to do it! It just wouldn’t have happened… but thankfully they are across everything.”
Another important element of AFG’s service that WJN relies on is regular financial reporting. Gloria continues,
“The level of reporting they are able to produce on time every month is fantastic. Before, we were always struggling to get reports done in a timely fashion… it’s not that the previous person couldn’t do it, it’s just AFG had the expertise across many different people – rather than trying to get everything we need all through one person within our business. They can call on a whole range of people to draw on different aspects of their skills. They’ve got it covered.
I’m a big fan… the AFG solution has been a real win for us!”
The challenges of NFP funding
Like many organisations around the country, WJN has been impacted by the government’s coronavirus restrictions. All their face-to-face programs are currently suspended because they are unable to run group sessions, and much of their fundraising has been put on hold. Gloria highlights some of the challenges they are facing,
“Right now we have no face-to-face client work… so where we would normally do in-person assessments, or help clients navigate, take them to appointments… our staff haven’t been able to do that. The way that we offer our support has been directly impacted.
Because our mentors haven’t been able to meet face to face with their mentees, it has been quite stressful for many of the women. A lot of them don’t have support and are feeling really isolated in their homes… but we are doing what we can working over the phone or FaceTime.
Fundraising has also been really tough… particularly for the youth mentoring program. In the past, this has been funded by the ClubGRANTS Program, but with clubs being closed and no money or delayed funding rounds, there will be a struggle ahead.
Plus, it’s likely that future government funds will be lower too… but the need for our services has increased by 50%.
Unfortunately, we can’t get to everyone… it’s tough for the staff, it’s tough for the women. We’re not sure what it’s going to look like going forward, but we will keep trying to raise funds.
Our 2020 Larapinta Trail fundraiser has been postponed until 2021, so we hope that more people will be interested in joining us… if people are looking for a holiday in 12 months and want something that will challenge them, it’s a great opportunity!”