The Southern Youth and Family Services (SYFS) Annual General Meeting was held in SYFS new hall at the Southern Youth and Family Centre in Warilla on Wednesday September 22nd.

To comply with current COVID lockdown restrictions and social distancing measures, attendees in person were limited to essential staff and essential office holders, with the majority of members online. There were 108 attendees.

For those attending virtually the meeting featured live footage of speakers and presenters intermixed with slides containing heart-warming images of SYFS staff, clients, events, and achievements from the previous year. 

The meeting even featured a fitting music video of Van Morrison performing 'Days Like This', which perfectly set the mood and reflected the SYFS message of resilience, positivity and hope during what has of course been another challenging year for so many.

Speakers included SYFS CEO Narelle Clay AM, President Jenny Thompson and Treasurer Jo Villa, with the overall sentiment being one of sincere thanks to the organisation's Board, Executive Team and Staff for a year of great achievement and growth despite difficult circumstances.

The resilience of SYFS staff and their ability to adapt, work harder and actually do more in the face of the COVID pandemic was highlighted, as was the response of SYFS vulnerable and disadvantaged young clients and their families who in the main and with the support of staff reacted positively and adhered extremely well to new safety protocols and significant changes in the delivery of education and employment. 

Among the challenges ahead for SYFS and other agencies highlighted by CEO Narelle Clay, was the lack of affordable housing for all members of the community and the impact that the COVID Pandemic and subsequent Government support may have on future funding for the Community Sector.

Major achievements referenced included the completion of the new Hall and state of the art Music Studio, further accommodation property acquisitions, development and construction along with renovations of existing properties, the ability of the organisation to meet and exceed all industry accreditation standards and acknowledgement of the hard work of so many to do so, implementation of the Youth Gambling Project, and the result of SYFS Annual Ride4Rotary Fundraiser in partnership with Illawarra's Rotary Clubs.

The previous Board were thanked and the Board Members for 2022/2022 were elected.

It was also announced that current supporter and previous President and Board Member of SYFS, Carol Medcalf has offered to donate further money and is planning a bequest in order to develop and improve the support to young men who may otherwise not be provided with support because “they do not meet strict eligibility criteria for various programs” . This is a most generous and heart felt gesture.

Jan Harland and Laila Hafez were acknowledged and were given a “Long Term Continuous Membership” List. Berenice Murphy who has a longstanding history with SYFS was presented with “Lifetime Membership” .