Chief Executive Officer Jude Emmer and Annabel Worthington, General Manager, Sales, Marketing and Customer Experience, reveal early in our conversation that there is no typical individual or family who is supported by Wesley Mission Queensland (WMQ).
With a history extending back 175 years in Queensland, the organisation has gone through various evolutions.
Now with more than 3,000 employees and 2,400 volunteers, WMQ provides 90 different services across aged care, disability care, housing and homelessness, mental health, health and wellbeing, palliative and hospice care, youth support services, and parenting support.
WMQ’s staff and volunteers make a difference in people’s lives by building relationships, showing respect and demonstrating compassion, and their work has a long lasting impact on families and communities.
Joining WMQ as their CEO in November 2020, Jude has guided the organisation through some of the most turbulent times in the organisation’s history, including the pandemic, Royal Commissions, reform implementation, Government directives and supply chain shortages.
Recently moving into the NFP world, Jude saw an immediate and unprecedented demand for the organisation’s services during the pandemic and following the 2022 floods.
Her enormous task in organising this massive endeavour is driven by her passion for the ongoing work of WMQ and ensuring that the organisation delivers its services efficiently so it can invest and reinvest to ensure it has the funds to continue helping those in need into the future.
It is clear from the very beginning that Jude genuinely cares about Queenslanders in need and she derives an incredible purpose working with an organisation that directly impacts people by creating better lives for them.
WMQ distinguishes itself as a Great Queenslander by the diverse range of services and its mission to make a positive difference in the lives of those who might otherwise be without support.
“The weather! It is the perfect climate,” exclaims Jude, “I moved to Australia from England twenty three years ago, first to Queensland in 2000 but then to Sydney before coming back to the most beautiful place on earth. I have now lived in Queensland for 15 years, and remind my family in the UK of the perfect climate every time I visit them, or they visit me. Living on the Gold Coast, the lifestyle is amazing. We have access to beaches, city shopping and an airport from where we can fly across Australia and internationally.”
Jude quickly moves to a more serious discussion.
“Another great reason to live here is the people. They are incredible, and I was reminded of this by the way they bounced back and supported each other after the 2022 floods, when the weather was not so amazing, as well as other natural disasters facing Queenslanders. I see this in my personal life and also through the thousands of stories that come out of the activities of Wesley Mission Queensland.”
“Our staff and volunteers make Queensland a great place for business. As a benevolent organisation, Wesley Mission Queensland has a long history of helping people in need, initially in Brisbane but now extending across the State. Our organisation is seeing socio-economic challenges everywhere. Sadly, business is booming for us because people are in need so there is a high demand for WMQ’s services,” says Jude, “We know WMQ can’t be everything to everyone, so we seek out issues where we can add the most value by delivering the best outcome and impact, and refer other requests on to other organisations who are better equipped to help.”
“Everywhere there are people who are struggling, and we are often working with those who have fallen through the cracks. During the floods, the real need was housing. This has escalated as the cost of living crisis continues. This is a need we have tried to meet. As we all know, it is a growing issue across Queensland and something we are working with the Government to address. We are thankful things are a bit easier since lockdown ended so we can turn our attention to fixing other issues caused by the pandemic and the geo-political situation we find ourselves in .”
“Working in this sector can be distressing but the WMQ model is to walk alongside people in need so, for example, we try to find ways for people to stay within their own homes and be safe for as long as possible.”
“I would really like to see more of the Government’s rhetoric matching its actions,” says Jude, “With the Olympics coming, can the Government answer whether we can really afford the infrastructure and is it the best use of our budget? Is this something we can afford or is it better to evolve into being a green state? If these two could work together then that would be a fantastic outcome for Queenslanders.”
With a smile, Jude also adds, “Late night dining. I would love to see a more European approach brought to Queensland so when you go out at night there isn’t that busy rush before everything shuts early.”
As a final thought, Jude suggests sorting out the M1 and transport routes from the border to Bundaberg.
Jude is enthusiastic about the future.
“I hope Queensland is seen as a vibrant State with a strong economy attracting the investment needed to deliver on opportunities and a bright shining example of multiculturalism.”
She is also alive to the differences across the State and the focus on the southeast corner of Queensland. ”
“If we lived further north, I believe we would be having a different conversation so I would like to see more equity of resources across the State in the next ten years .”
Both Jude and Annabel agree on the beaches of Mooloolaba.
“They are kid-friendly and not too busy,” says Annabel.
Now living on the Gold Coast, Jude has also lived in Noosa, and loves the combination of bush and beach that is so accessible across the State.
“When I first moved from Sydney, I had to work hard to adapt to the change of pace,” remembers Jude, “It took eighteen months, but I was happy to make the change.”
Without hesitating, Jude mentions tennis great and inspirational Queenslander Ash Barty and her family who Jude knows through her work in Ipswich.
“Ash is an awesome role model. She is humble and family orientated. She does what she wants, and lives the why behind what she says,” says Jude, “I suspect there is definitely more to come from Ash.”
On a more personal note, both Jude and Annabel agree on Hummingbird House operated by WMQ.
“Hummingbird House is the only children’s hospice in Queensland with both inhouse and outreach services,” says Annabel, “It provides specialised paediatric palliative care services to babies, children and young people with life-limiting conditions and is helping children and supporting their families at the worst time of their lives.”
A long and proud history of supporting people in need
An innovative and responsive not-for-profit community service provider, Wesley Mission Queensland helps people build stronger and more inclusive communities.
With the current focus on community taking shape from the 1900s to provide meals to children and women in need, Wesley Mission Queensland now operates as a mission activity of the Albert Street Uniting Church. They work collaboratively with other Uniting Church congregations, community organisations and government bodies to provide accessible and flexible services to older people, those living with a disability or mental illness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, refugees and vulnerable children and families.
They follow the Wesley Charter, a framework that guides their interactions with the diverse range of people they serve. Their people work to make a difference in people’s lives by building relationships, showing respect and demonstrating compassion.
Established in 1893, Thynne + Macartney has helped people and businesses to build and grow within Queensland and across Australia, as well as navigate the challenges and issues that sometimes arise. Our firm’s history is intertwined with the development of the State, but we haven’t shouted it from the rooftops. It is just not our style.
However, it is not every day that you get to celebrate 130 years of continuous operation and we thought that was something to shout about, but what to say?
Then we realised there must be other people, businesses and charities out there who get on with what they have to do to make Queensland the great state it is – other Great Queenslanders.