Anglicare News - CEO Chris Jones
Part of something bigger
Chris Jones has been CEO of Anglicare Tasmania for twenty years – motivated by an unshakable commitment to social justice in his home state.
‘Anglicare has a mission and it does drive what I do, all the time,’ he says, reflecting on his two decades in the role. ‘It’s all about delivering on the things we need to make Tasmania better, to bring about fullness of life for all people.’
As CEO, Chris has been a relentless advocate for affordable housing and utilities, gambling reform and improved support services for people experiencing disadvantage.
Anglicare is one of the few not-for-profit organisations in Tasmania that undertakes research and advocacy, while also delivering aged care, mental health, housing, disability, financial counselling and other services.
‘Being focused on the mission means I do push. I keep turning up and speaking about what that looks like,’ he says. ‘This kind of work is always long-term.’
Chris, who is also an Anglican bishop, sees the CEO role as an important part of his ministry.
‘I’m as committed to this work today as I was when I first finished theological college,’ he says. ‘I’m still as driven about it now as I was on day one.’
Chris’s studies included a course in sociology. ‘I learned about contemporary social problems and responses to those issues,’ he says. ‘And that’s what my ministry was about from the beginning. I really wanted to be engaged in things that would bring about change in the community and wider society.’
Chris’s first ministry placement was at Kingston, where he became involved with a domestic violence prevention project at Jireh House, and supported the Clarendon Children’s Home which provided residential foster care for children. ‘I just loved that work. After two years there I went to Burnie and the opportunity came to get engaged with Anglicare as a member of the board.’
Chris continued as a board member during his years in a parish at Scottsdale, where he helped to establish a local suicide prevention project. ‘For me there were always these kinds of projects around community change and activism, as well as the parish work,’ he says.
When the CEO role became vacant in 1998, Chris decided to apply. ‘Because of my board involvement, I had a good understanding of Anglicare’s strategic direction, finances and the senior executive team,’ he says. ‘I had to resign from the board and go through a recruitment process. Then I had to convince the bishop that it was something I could do and it was worth taking me out of parish ministry for,’ he says.
Under his leadership, Anglicare embarked on a period of rapid and significant growth. ‘Our long term plan was to increase our turnover from $5.5-6 million to $10 million,’ he says. ‘Now I sit here 20 years later and the turnover is $70 million. But it’s not the numbers. What that represents is that we’ve been able to respond to Tasmanians in need. We’ve increased the scope of the services and the location of the services,’ he says.
Chris says community service and social justice require a long term view.
‘Part of what I’m conscious of is that I’m leading an organisation that existed before I was here, and will exist after me,’ he says.
‘I’ve also learned that a CEO has to be able to live vicariously. The staff do tremendous work in ways that I can’t but I admire them and take the positives out of what I can see them doing,’ he says. ‘That is part of what sustains me.’
‘We have dedicated staff who are professional and committed. That’s part of who we are,’ says Chris. ‘There’s a stick-ability to Anglicare – a constancy, a consistency, that we will always be supporting Tasmanians and working for justice.’
‘I have a view that Anglicare is here for the long haul,’ says Chris. ‘Of course along the way, I would like us to so change the world that we don’t have homelessness, that we have improved mental health services and better support for people with disabilities. Anglicare has always been – and always will be – here to help make a positive difference for Tasmanians.