2 March 2018

A reflection on 24 years: GIllian Bremner

Over nearly a quarter of a century many things come and go. Chief Executive Gillian Bremner's passion to care for the people of Otago remains as strong as ever.

Gillian has seen plenty of things happen in her time as Chief Executive. As you would expect, the list of new initiatives that have been launched in her time is quite impressive.

When reflecting back on her time leading the organisation, a few key themes have stood out for Gillian.

"We have seen siginificant growth in residential aged care, and a large rise in the for-profit sector involvement. However, the adequacy of funding has remained a constant challenge."

"We are also seeing the average age of people moving into residential care significantly higher, and the needs of residents continue to increase. What hasn't changed is the top quality care that we provide."

When Gillian began, St Andrews care home had just opened in Dunedin and since then almost every Enliven site has had major redevelopment occur to take the facilities into the 21st century and beyond.

Bed numbers have increased from just on 300 in 1993, to 468 in 2018. In addition, there has been the construction of two retirement villages and a new care home in Wanaka.

Presbyterian Support Otago is passionate about supporting individuals and families in the community. Gillian points to the increase of child poverty as one very visible societal issue that has developed over the last few decades.

The establishment of the Buddy Programme in the 1990's, and an ever growing foodbank being set up in Dunedin, are part of our contribution to this need.

"From a small pantry and very standard kitchen, we're now giving out over 10,000 food items each month as part of our support for vulnerable families with complex needs. Poverty is a serious issue, and its one that food parcels alone won't solve."

'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world - indeed it's the only thing that ever has!' Margaret Mead

During Gillian's time as Chief Executive, the organisation has seen advocacy as an important role when considering the social challenges many of our clients face and has completed research and published several reports to highlightthe issues as well as posing practical solutions.

Along with client services and advocacy, local community development initiatives have been in focus, which seek to strengthen the community as a whole.

Gillian may be retiring this month, but we know her passion for the organsation, and the work that we do, will always remain.

A public farewell to thank Gillian will be held on Tuesday, 20 March 2018, from 4pm in Burns Hall (Moray Place). RSVP to Joyce McKenzie by Friday, 16 March.

Photo courtesy of ODT