I would like to start by offering my thanks to the Giant Steps Tasmania board. Their support of and dedication to our organisation is outstanding and without their work we would not be able to operate as such a great organisation. It is largely a thankless task and is done by a group of people who really want to see great opportunities exist for our young people. I thank them all for not only supporting the school but for supporting me in my running of the organisation.  Their guidance is always balanced, thoughtful and timely.

In my report I would like to reflect on the 2016 year but I begin with a mention of some support received this year. Although this was support received in the 2017 year, I feel the recognition should come now. During the first term of this year I was fortunate enough to take some long service leave. After getting the year started I took the majority of term one to be Tim Chugg private citizen! I really enjoyed spending time with my family and catching up on jobs. The school was ably run by Chris Jacobsen in my absence and I would like to thank her for the excellent work she did in my absence. I was able to switch off from the school and Chris wouldn’t tell me things even if I asked!  The positive of this is that I believe it shows the strong position Giant Steps Tasmania is in now. Chris, supported by the ever efficient Karina and the rest of the admin team, kept the school running smoothly and the staff in the rooms did their jobs with great skill and aplomb. We are becoming a great team that does not solely rely on one person to keep going and that is a great thing. So thank you to not just Chris but to all of the staff for allowing me the break from the principal’s office.

2016 was another positive year at Giant Steps Tasmania. With the benefit of an expanded administration team we have been able to put a lot of work into the necessary areas of policy and procedure and as an organisation we are really improving at the often invisible but indispensable areas of running a school and adult service. With any change comes some challenges but we are ready to meet these as they come. We have made a commitment this year to improve communication and consultation with our community and hope that we can inform and advise our families whilst at the same time being open and ready for their valuable advice and feedback. Such areas as improving our administration of medication have presented challenges and the need for communication and consultation but we now find ourselves with a much safer and more efficient system.

The school saw a steady rise in enrolments with several potential students waiting in the wings for an available space. Enrolments in 2016 continued on from a strong 2015 with us ending the 2016 school year with numbers of 28.8.

Our school has developed and continues to improve upon a strong curriculum that allows students to focus on areas of need whilst giving them the opportunity to learn with their peers. We follow the Australian National Curriculum and have embraced some new programs over the last year to assist us with giving the best to our students. The 4 Blocks Literacy program has been a real success in the area of literacy and in 2016 we started a trail of the highly acclaimed Math Pathways program. These programs complement and enhance our learning programs and keep our children connected to the “main stream”. I would like to thank the three teachers, Jelly, Anita and Bianca for their dedication and hard work over the year. We are lucky to have three excellent educators on staff and they are always looking for new ideas and inspirations.

Our Next Steps group had a busy year as always. The staff and the clients are a close knit crew and their days are spent participating in a wide variety of activities. Popular pursuits during the 2016 year were gardening, brochure delivery, cooking, dance and sailing. The group is currently full with 9 Full Time Equivalent clients made up of 13 individual clients. We must now look to the future and decide on the best course of action for the group to take the Next Step.

We would like to thank all those amazingly generous people who donated to the school in 2016 and contributed to such programs as Supporting the Awesome (formerly sponsor a child). The support of the community is vital to our organisation and we welcome all support. Last year we were particularly grateful to the Rotary Club of Deloraine. The group made Giant Steps Tasmania the featured recipient of funds from the 2016 Tasmanian Craft Fair. We were able to get a stall and spent a valuable four days talking to the community about Giant Steps and selling some items created by staff and students.  This support has resulted in a donation of $15000.00 We also received a very generous donation of $75000.00 from Brian Faulkner and family. This generous donation has since been put to work in replacing the roof of the Next Steps cottage and installing a new toilet area. All donations no matter how big or small are valuable to us and it is always inspiring to see the support we get.

I would like to end this 2016 year’s report by thanking the families, students, clients and community of people that contribute over the year to keeping our organisation vibrant, effective and relevant. With help from families and community we can see our children progress and develop into independent young adults. As staff of Giant Steps, we work hard but ultimately we are going home at the end of the day. It is the family and community that truly guide our young people and we are privileged to work with so many fabulous people who have such devotion to their children.