When Graeme Mulligan began working at Baptist Community Services in 2002, the organisation was a small cluster of diverse services. Today, as Baptist Care SA, it has evolved into one of South Australia’s largest and most respected faith-based organisations.
On the eve of his retirement, Graeme Mulligan sat down to talk to Baptist Care SA Foundation Boad Deputy Chair, Allan Priest, and reflect over his almost two-decade career with the organisation.
Allan: Your time at Baptist Care SA started with Baptist Community Services (BCS) that was one of its two predecessor entities prior to their 2008 amalgamation. What drew you to this employment?
Graeme: When I was working toward becoming a Chartered Accountant, I felt God drop a question into my heart along the lines of, ‘If I have gifted you to be the unique person you are with skills and abilities that make you who you are, what are you going to use them for, yourself or my Kingdom?’
My career path has largely been formed by using that question as a barometer.
Allan: Is there a high point that particularly stands out in your Baptist Care SA journey?
Graeme: The high point has been the people I’ve met and worked with. There are some amazing people who work or have worked with Baptist Care SA. I find myself quite humbled to have had the privilege of working with them.
I believe the establishment of the Baptist Care (SA) Foundation was also an important point in the journey and it would be great to see increased contributions flow into this to enable Baptist Care SA to expand the work it can do untied to government funding.
Allan: How have you observed the care landscape change over the intervening years?
Graeme: Firstly, there has been a heightened focus on transparency and accountability. In the last decade alone, we have seen Royal Commissions into children in care, aged care, and disability all leading to heightened regulatory environments, compliance, and accreditation.
At the same time, we have seen an increasing transition of government funding from the historical ‘block funded’ model to fee-for-service models . This means that care organisations, such as Baptist Care SA, have had to become substantially more commercially astute and financially strong.
Allan: What do you see to be the greatest challenge currently confronting Christian care ministries?
Graeme: For faith-based care organisations, the constant challenge has been, and is, to stay true to their calling in the midst of these changing landscapes. This is quite different to simply having a set of values. It is that deep-seated awareness of holding true to God’s purposes and how to hold to being truly Christ-centred in the context of a sector that is largely government funded and increasingly compliance driven.
In an ideal world you would like to see everything we do be funded from our own resources. Unfortunately, that is not the world we currently operate in, but this can be increased through the growth of the Foundation.
Allan: With the benefit of your experience is there a piece of parting wisdom you would leave for those who follow in your footsteps?
Graeme: To never lose sight of the fact that this is part of God’s work of reconciling the world to Himself through Christ. Baptist Care SA is not simply a care organisation, but, through His people, it brings the presence of God into the lives of those who are disadvantaged and marginalised.
Graeme’s servant style leadership, humble manner, steadfast trustworthiness, and extensive corporate knowledge will be greatly missed. On behalf of Baptist Care SA, we thank him for his contribution to the work God is doing through Baptist Care SA and wish richest blessings on him and his family in the future.