Save the Children Australia and Child Wise Announce Merger
13 December 2017 at 3:38 pm
Children’s aid charity Save the Children Australia and child protection agency Child Wise have announced their intention to merge by the end of the year.
Save the Children Australia CEO Paul Ronalds said the two organisations had a shared mission to protect the rights of children.
“We can achieve more in scale and impact for vulnerable children working together as one agency,” Ronalds said.
“With evidence-based practice and research underpinning the Child Wise programs, this partnership with Save the Children makes good strategic sense.
“It provides an excellent opportunity to broaden and strengthen our child protection programs and build capacity in the wider community so that individuals and organisations know what steps to take to keep children and young people safe from abuse and harm.”
Ronalds said that while new Australian charities were being created every year, this was Save the Children’s third merger in as many years.
In February 2017 Save the Children Australia and Hands on Learning Australia joined forces in a bid to prevent disengaged children from dropping out of school.
In May 2015 Save the Children merged with Good Beginnings which provided early intervention programs to create one of Australia’s largest agencies working with children in disadvantaged communities.
Ronalds told Pro Bono News the sector needed to “consolidate to create greater impact and leverage economies of scale”.
“We believe working together strengthens the sector and creates more opportunity to deliver services,” he said.
He said the latest merger was consistent with recommendations from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse interim report, which highlighted the need for shared responsibility and collaboration in child safety across of all levels of society.
Child Wise was established in 1991 to protect children from abuse and exploitation – both in reducing the incidence and impact through education, researching and by responding to emerging risks to children and young people.
“Save the Children has three global goals, the first around quality education for all children, the second around no child under five dying from a preventable cause and the third around no child being subject to violence,” Ronalds said.
“When we looked at our capability in the these three areas we had made significant strides in education and Good Beginnings and Hands on Learning were both merges that went to that goal. In the child protection space we felt that we wanted to increase our expertise and capacity particularly when we look at the royal commission.
“So we could have done one of two things. We could have looked to buying-in a whole lot of new expertise and expand that organically or we could have looked at which organisations are already doing a good job and approach them about whether a merger around our organisational goals makes sense. Obviously the second one happened.”
After three mergers Ronalds said the process did get easier.
“It is true to say you shouldn’t underestimate the complexity of doing the merger and it needs to be properly resourced,” Ronalds said.
“We have project teams that we put in place for each of these [mergers] to make sure that the integration issues are well looked after, that appropriate due diligence is done, and communication particularly with donors who might also be unsettled… are done carefully.
“Provided these things happen the results can be excellent.
“We do a ‘lessons’ learned’ after each merger and look to our impact. We recently presented the report on the Hands on Learning merger to our board… we have actually only been merged less than nine months and this year Hands on Learning will grow by more than 20 per cent.”
Child Wise chair Andrew Blode said the merger with Save the Children would increase the reach and scale of Child Wise programs.
“It has the potential to significantly increase the availability of groups within Australian society to access child protection and safeguarding expertise to keep children safe from harm,” Blode said.
“The royal commission inquiry has raised awareness and now organisations and the general community are tightening their policies to keep children and young people safe from abuse and harm.
“I have no doubt that this next step with Save the Children will accelerate the vision to create a safer community for children and young people.”
The merger is expected to be finalised on 31 December.