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New Chair for our ASC Board

17 Nov, 2021

Asylum Seekers Centre Chair Peter Waters and immediate past Chair Betty Hounslow.

At our October AGM, Betty Hounslow stepped down as the Chair of the ASC Board after three years in the position. Betty remains on the Board and board member Peter Waters was elected as Chair. Clare Petre remains as Deputy Chair.

Betty has been the Chair throughout the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic and we extend our immense gratitude to her for taking on this substantial volunteer position.

“My three years as Chair has been a rare opportunity to see the inner workings of the Asylum Seekers Centre,” says Betty.

“This closer acquaintance has only deepened my respect for the skill and dedication of our many staff and volunteers. This is why I’m delighted to stay on as a member of the Board which supports their work, and why I’m confident that my very competent successor, Peter, is a lucky man and in for a great ride!”

Peter Waters has served on the ASC Board for more than two years and has a distinguished career in law with Gilbert + Tobin where he was a partner for more than twenty years. Peter has been the Chair of the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation for more than a decade.

Peter shared his thoughts with us on his appointment:

“The Covid pandemic has been – and continues to be – the most challenging time the Asylum Seekers Centre has faced. People seeking asylum are amongst the most vulnerable – as casual workers, they were the first to lose their jobs. They were excluded from JobKeeper, many do not have access to Medicare, and they often live in crowded, inadequate accommodation.

Thanks to increased funding from our donors and temporary funding from the NSW Government, we were able to quadruple our financial and food support. The staff quickly and creatively transformed our pre-Covid face-to-face service delivery model to be able to continue providing individualised, caring support to our clients. Our volunteers’ response was, as always, “How can we help?” The Board made big calls to crack open our reserves to meet the increased need.

This all took adaptive, determined leadership – which our CEO, Frances Rush, and the outgoing Chair, Betty Hounslow, gave in spades. Simultaneous to the pandemic response, Frances and the staff were able to also do a reorganisation of the ASC which had been planned pre-Covid.

More could not have been asked of our staff, and it is important to acknowledge the efforts they have made and the stress they have carried.

I am honoured – and a little daunted – to take over as Chair from Betty. She brought to the Chair’s role humanity, insight, and a gentle but firm hand in keeping board meetings on track, a much under-rated skill amongst board chairs! I am thankful that Betty will be staying on the Board and that Clare Petre will continue as Deputy Chair, so I will have the security of some wonderful ‘guardians’ in the role.

As I take on the Chair role, I also think of my friend Steven Glass who introduced me to the ASC. He was a tireless advocate for people seeking asylum. He is sadly missed.”