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Meals on Wheels Australia’s Annual Report 2019/20

December 14, 2020

Download the Meals on Wheels Australia Annual Report 2019/2020

National Meals on Wheels Day recognises resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic

August 21, 2020



This year National Meals on Wheels Day, on Wednesday 26th of August will recognise our dedicated volunteer workforce who have stepped up to help protect the health and wellbeing of vulnerable Australians during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meals on Wheels Australia President, Sharyn Broer says the iconic organisation is incredibly grateful for the unwavering commitment and generosity of the 76,000 people who volunteer for Meals on Wheels, ensuring older Australians remain nourished and safe at home, not only during a pandemic, but every day.

“We are so thankful for our volunteers. Regardless of the emergency – devastating bushfires, or in a pandemic, our volunteers continue to roll up their sleeves and deliver life-changing support.”

Mrs Broer says Meals on Wheels services and the volunteer workforce have demonstrated immense resilience through the pandemic, however, the sustainability of services remains uncertain.

Ensuring well-nourished communities for years to come

Meals on Wheels Australia has been calling for an urgent increase in Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) funding, to ensure the ongoing viability of services.

During the COVID-19 pandemic the Federal Government provided vital additional funding, allowing Meals on Wheels services to continue delivering nutritious meals to an increased number of vulnerable members of the community.

“We reported a significant increase in demand for our services nation-wide, with many Australians facing food insecurity for the very first time,’ Mrs Broer said.

“We are so thankful to the Government for supporting Meals on Wheels during this uncertain time through the increase in funding,” Mrs Broer said.

“Thanks to Meals on Wheels, no one went hungry!”

Urgent need for increased funding acknowledged by Government

Recently the Minister for Aged Care and Senior Australians, Senator the Hon. Richard Colbeck MP acknowledged the inequitable distribution of funding and advised Meals on Wheels Australia of an upcoming funding review for meal service providers, within the next 12 months.

“We are pleased the Government has recognised the problem, however, our concerns remain about the timing of the review and the impact this will have on services that are already struggling to remain financially viable,” Mrs Broer said.

“Time and time again, whatever the emergency, Australians will look to us to support well-nourished communities and create meaningful connections… and we want to be here to do that,” Mrs Broer said.

Meals on Wheels Australia is looking forward to a swift and favourable review outcome to ensure we can continue delivering affordable nutritious meals, social connection and wellbeing checks to those who need it most.

To follow the events and celebrations on National Meals on Wheels Day, follow us on Facebook and Twitter at @meals_australia.

Donation of $1 million in disinfectant products from Reckitt Benckiser

April 12, 2020

Meals on Wheels Australia welcomes donation of $1 million in disinfectant products from Reckitt Benckiser (RB)

We are pleased to share news that leading consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser (RB) is donating $1million of disinfectant products to Meals on Wheels Australia, to help us ensure the health and wellbeing of our clients and volunteers as we navigate the health and safety challenges presented by COVID-19.

This donation will include items from trusted brands such as Glen 20, Pine O Cleen and Dettol, and will be distributed to Meals on Wheels locations around Australia, over the next eight months.  

We are thrilled to be receiving this support from the team at RB.  On one level, it will be appreciated by our clients as they try their best to keep their homes clean and healthy during this time. It is also great news for our volunteer network, who will be able to use the products to maintain hygiene while preparing and delivering meals.

The distribution of products will be phased, beginning with the delivery of products to locations in New South Wales from mid-April.

RB’s generosity didn’t stop at the investment of product that they are donating to MoW.  At no cost to MoW, they provided television commercial spaces.  And, in collaboration with us, developed a 30 second piece that promotes the important work that we are doing to support older people throughout this pandemic.

The commercial will be launched towards the end of the Easter break and reflects the warmth and commitment of Meals on Wheels to the community.

We look forward to sharing further information with you on this partnership as we continue to work closely with RB over the coming months!


The distribution of products will be phased across Australia over the next eight months.

We will keep you informed as to when this will commence in Victoria.

What you need to know about coronavirus (COVID-19)

March 18, 2020

To our Customers, Carers & Families,

This letter explains what Meals on Wheels is doing to reduce the potential spread of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) and ensure our service to you can continue.  We are following advice from the health authorities, recognising that older people may be more at risk.

All volunteers and staff are following our standard food safety procedures, good hand hygiene, and as an extra precaution are using hand sanitising gel between each home they visit.  We have also asked our volunteers to maintain an arm’s length distance away from you when delivering your meal.

You can help, too.

If you are able to come to the door, we will deliver your meal either onto a tray or place on a chair or table just inside your door.  We will make arrangements if you cannot easily get to the door to receive your meal.

If you are unwell, have recently returned from an overseas trip, or have been told that you have been in contact with a person known to have the Coronavirus please let us know by calling your local service.   We will make arrangements to ensure that you can still receive your home delivered meals, with some extra steps to keep our volunteers safe and well.

If you have any questions or concerns about how we are managing the Coronavirus, please contact us on and we will direct you to the right support

If you would like further factual advice about the Coronavirus you can contact the 24-hour National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 or read the information published on the Department of Health website:

Please refer to the Australian government site for the latest updates.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for public gatherings and visits to vulnerable groups.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for older Australians.

During this public health emergency we are doing all we can to protect our Meals on Wheels community and are asking for your support.

Meals on Wheels on The Drum

Watch a news item about Meals on Wheels on the ABC’s The Drum; (fast forward to 49:49 into the show to see the clip)

Meals on Wheels Conference 2020 – Presentations

March 4, 2020

Speakers Presentations:

Pier Line, Director General, Santropol Roulant
Community Engagement at Santropol Roulant

Sharyn Broer, President Meals on Wheels Australia
Opening Address

Ally Smith
, CHSP Sector Development Officer, Tasmanian Council of Social Service Inc
Moving from Concepts (Wellness and Reablement) to Everyday Language
Wellness and Reablement Resources for CHSP

Michael Goldsworthy, Principal Consultant, Australian Strategic Services
The Board & CEO’s Roles & Responsibilities In Strategically Transforming Their Organisation
Beyond Directors’ Duties: Frameworks and Mental Models for Directors
The Fundamentals of Contemporary Governance
Standard 8, Organisational Governance
Co-designing Your New Business Model
ACQS Standards Assessment & Improvement Tools
Governance Due Diligence Checklist example
Aged Care Quality Standards Corporate & Organisational Governance Assessment & Implementation Tool
Adaptive Governance…Transformational Leadership
Customer-Centric Governance… Customer is King, Cashflow is Queen
Disrupt or be Disrupted
Strategy… The Key Domain of Directors, Chief Executive Officers & Senior Managers

Prof. Michael Fine, Honorary Professor Department of Sociology,Macquarie University
Direct access, a Primary Care Approach for CHSP

Nick Morgan, Assistant Secretary, Home Support and Assessment Branch
Aged Care Reform and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme

Louise Sutcliffe, Project Officer, Meals on Wheels NSW &
Senior Firefighter Melanie Rebane, Community Safety Coordinator, Community Engagement Unit, Fire and Rescue NSW
ACT! A Collaborative Toolkit

Robyn Moore, Beyond Informed to Transformed
Re-MINDavator” Video CLIPS

Ngaire Hobbins, APD
The Future is Food – the vital importance of MOW

Santropol Roulant Talk
Pier Line, Director General at Santropol Roulant – March 2020 (Adelaide)



More about the Meals on Wheels National Conference 2020

September 5, 2019

Meals on Wheels National Conference
19-21 February 2020
Launceston, Tasmania


Please view Speakers’ Presentations here.


The National Conference for 2020 is one not to be missed with an exciting program that includes well-known motivational keynote speakers and educational workshops. The social activities and pre and post tours offer an excellent chance to take in a taste of what Launceston has to offer.  Should you wish to take in a little more of Tasmania after the conference then the post tour to Hobart will certainly provide this opportunity while enjoying the experience with your colleagues.

Should you have any queries regards the conference then please contact Kerrie Wise on


Thank you to those who  registered for the 2020 National Conference.

It is terrific to see so many of our Meals on Wheels community have already registered to come along, and that many of you are considering a holiday as part of your visit to Launceston. I hadn’t been to Launceston until we looked at it as an option for the conference, care of the North Tasmania Bureau, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Wonderful food, wine and scenery.

Speaker update
I am pleased to let you know that Nick Morgan’s office has advised us on Friday that Nick Morgan will be attending and speaking at the MoWA National Conference.

Nick Morgan is the Assistant Secretary, Home Support and Assessment Branch – and responsible for CHSP Federal funding. He is a key policy advisor to the Federal Minister, Ageing and Senior Australians.

Given our current, critical funding ask ($80m; a doubling of current funding) this is a key opportunity to hear Nick speak on the future of meal services under CHSP funding, what the Federal Government is planning to do around block funding and an update on potential extensions for existing agreements, due to complete in June 2020.

We have over 590 services right across the country and for most ongoing sustainability is a real issue. We are the backbone of regional communities and the Government can not afford for us to fail. This is an opportunity to share your concern about your local service.

We have invited the Federal Minister, and Shadow Minister, both Tasmanian’s – and will follow up their likely attendance once the 2020 Parliamentary Sitting Dates are announced. Hopefully, they are in their local communities at the time of our conference (February 19 – 21) and not in Canberra for sitting week.

And, finally, to let you know Chris Watt will be our Conference Emcee. For those of you at the NSW conference, you know how terrific he is.

See you there.

Download the brochure



Stronger focus on nutrition could save lives

September 4, 2019

Stronger focus on nutrition within health services could save 3.7 million lives by 2025

Health services must integrate a stronger focus on ensuring optimum nutrition at each stage of a person’s life, according to a new report released by the World Health Organization (WHO). It is  estimated that the right investment in nutrition could save 3.7 million lives by 2025.




Meals on Wheels Victoria Listeria advice

February 24, 2019

Listeriosis Information

Media Release about Listeriosis

VICMoW FAQ Food Safety Recall due to Listeriosis

Listeria Food Poisoning information (better health channel)

BREAKING NEWS: 8 million dollar funding boost

September 15, 2017

More on the plate for Meals on Wheels

Earlier this year, national peak body the Australian Meals on Wheels Association (AMOWA) called for a modest additional investment to address the funding inequities in each State, and to stop struggling services having to raise fees to their customers.

This morning the iconic service rejoiced after the announcement by the Federal Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, of an additional $8 million in government support.

AMOWA President, Nelson Mathews, says this announcement is great news and the government’s intention to allocate the extra funding in a more equitable way has been welcomed by all the clients, volunteers and staff of AMOWA.

“Services struggling with cost pressures have been forced to raise the price of meals to their customers to levels we think are unacceptable, this additional Commonwealth Home Support Program funding will help stall further price hikes for those who can least afford them,” Mr Mathews said.

“Many chronically underfunded Meals on Wheels services will now receive extra funding to bring them closer to par with other services in Australia with the Government intending to contribute a minimum of $4.70 towards the cost of this iconic service.

“The government has recognised the massive return in down-stream community benefits and health savings it gains through preventative care services like Meals on Wheels.”

Australians of all ages have access to receiving Meals on Wheels including those living with mental or physical disabilities as well as older members of the community, all of who benefit from the three services provided that is bundled into one.

  • Nourish – Clients receive a well-balanced and nutritious meal
  • Care – Clients are provided with vital social contact, monitoring of health and well-being
  • Connect Communities – Volunteers are the heart of Meals on Wheels. This engagement and sense of purpose has a massive positive impact on countless people across the communities Meals on Wheels operates

Meals on Wheels services throughout Australia nourish, care and connect communities, by delivering over 10 million Meals on Wheels meals to more than 120,000 clients Australia-wide in cities, regional and rural areas each year.

For more information download this Media Release


President delivers passionate speech about sustainability – 2017 Conference

September 13, 2017

Watch video of the President’s speech here

President – Nelson Mathews


Australians of all ages receive Meals on Wheels. Those living with mental or physical disabilities or older members of our community.  They choose us because they appreciate that-

Meals on Wheels provides 3 services in 1

We Nourish. By providing a well-balanced and nutritious meal

We Care. By providing vital social contact, monitoring health and well-being and giving re-assurance to both our customers and their families. If someone is losing weight or seems distressed, our volunteers notice and act accordingly. This is the preventative care aspect of our service.

And thirdlyWe Connect Communities. Volunteers are the heart of our service. They always say that they get more than they give. This engagement and sense of purpose has a massive impact on so many lives. Our services do not work alone, they work with and along-side other organisations to enhance the lives of people in their communities.

Together, these three elements make for a very powerful combination. Getting a week’s supply of frozen meals delivered by a private provider is not Meals on Wheels. We keep people well nourished, we intervene when they’re in trouble, we prevent falls and hospital stays, we keep people at home for longer, which means they spend less time in expensive residential care. It’s been estimated that for every dollar the government provides in subsidy, they get five back in down-stream health savings.

We are truly More Than Just a Meal.

However we are also under-funded. But before I expand on this, I’d like to recall a story …

A few years ago Grace rang up to enquire about getting meals for herself and husband. She was asked if she could still cook? – “yes” – still drive and shop? – “yes”. This call was taken by the then regional assessment team in Western Australia – which incidentally was introduced in that State many years before the introduction of nationally funded Regional Assessment Teams and My Aged Care. She was refused services. Grace had been actively involved in her community and rang the local Meals on Wheels provider directly. The coordinator found out that Grace was the full-time Carer for her incapacitated husband, and was juggling his health appointments and running the household and finding it harder to find the time to shop and cook

By the time an assessment was organised, her husband had to go into care, and Grace didn’t need the service. This story and others like it at the time, were very concerning. Those meals and a friendly chat to a volunteer might have provided special comfort and assistance during those last arduous, emotional and demanding weeks in her role as Carer. She reached out to her local community, who would have been all too willing to help, but both were stymied by the system.

About two and a half years ago, when we were consulted on the Commonwealth Home Support Program manual, AMOWA argued and won the right to put clients on services first, and then refer to My Aged Care. I’m convinced this stopped many more cases like Grace’s occurring. While we do hear regular examples of people approaching My Aged Care who are not referred on to Meals on Wheels, it was a relief to hear that after a year our services reported that none of their referrals to My Aged Care had been knocked back. Fortunately, most people continue to reach out to their local Meals on Wheels service first.

We also highlighted the limits to the policy of ‘reablement’, and the inference that Meals on Wheels was a passive service of dependency. We pointed out that the service was, in and of itself, an enabler.

As WA finally joins all the other States and transitions to direct federal funding next year, it’s worth pausing to reflect. Local Government is the main provider of Meals on Wheels there and because of the low subsidy provided, some chose to opt out, so in many places in WA today you cannot even access a Meals on Wheels service. In five years, from 2012, the number of people getting Meals on Wheels almost halved. The parallels with the UK are sobering. Over a similar time period, when funding for in-home support services, such as delivered meals and social support had their funding cut, hospitalisation rates of malnourished older people increased by over 200%.

Incidentally, during the same period meals provision in SA, QLD and NSW increased. Are people living in the west less deserving than or different from those living in the east?

In some ways, the Australian government is flying blind. Where is the evidence that when consumers are choosing alternatives to Meals on Wheels, that those alternatives are delivering cost effective outcomes? Where is the modelling that says keeping the subsidy so low will lead to better health outcomes? Are there more hospital admissions in areas where Meals on Wheels does not exist or is chronically under-funded? Yes, according American research. Yes, according to UK statistics.

When reviewing the future of aged care in 2011, the Productivity Commission recommended that Meals on Wheels and some other services be left out of the formal aged care system because they considered them fundamental services that should be readily accessible to anyone in the community. In short, this meant that if someone needed help with meals, they should get it.

Meals on Wheels seems to be caught in the middle of government cost shifting.

Let’s consider Victoria in this cost shifting paradigm, the only State in Australia, except WA, where the majority of services, are provided by Local Government. They contribute up to 40% of the cost of a meal. In worrying signs, many are raising their prices to unaffordable levels and in other instances opting out of service provision all-together. Where is their incentive to stay in the business or to market their services to vulnerable people in their communities who might need them? After-all, Local Government doesn’t pay for hospitals or residential care.

It costs about a thousand dollars a day to keep someone in hospital for one night, that’s the equivalent of what the government spends on the total subsidy for one person for Meals on Wheels for a year in many parts of Australia.

Sadly, the people that the cost is being shifted to, more often than not, are those using our services. Meals on Wheels services all over Australia, large and small, are struggling not to pass rising costs onto customers. Yet the government is happy to subsidise other home care services by 50 to 100%. They provide around $40 an hour for housecleaning and the consumer pays about $5. Yet for Meals on Wheels they provide a subsidy that averages less than $5 per meal, with our customers having to pay upwards of $9 per meal. It’s simply not fair. And it puts the health of older people at risk, if they can’t afford their Meals on Wheels service.

Meals on Wheels needs to be adequately funded. We also need to be appropriately funded.

There has been much talk recently about a move away from block funding to individualised funding. The suggestion that the block funding MOW services get now – which they use to operate the service and remain liquid – would be given directly to the consumer. The rationale is that the consumer would then decide if they wanted Meals on Wheels or a week’s supply of frozen meals from a private provider, or a care worker to cook a week’s worth of casseroles and pop them in the fridge (a much more expensive option). Put simply, many, many MOW services would fall over. We welcomed the news that the government has committed to continue with block funding until 2020 and we continue to press the case for block funding in the longer term.

So, where to from here? How do we get the balance right? How do we work with government on developing a sustainable model for the unique and varied Meals on Wheels services across Australia?

Earlier this year AMOWA asked for a very modest 5 million dollars to address the funding inequities in each State, and to stop struggling services having to raise their fees to their customers. In the same submission, we asked for $300,000 for AMOWA to fund the resources to work with the government on a sensible way forward.

We haven’t yet succeeded, but given what I’ve just laid out here in terms of the challenges we face, I’d urge the government to reconsider urgently.

MOW services are adapting and evolving, are focused on consumers, care about providing excellent meals and other services, and need to continue supporting and investing in our predominantly voluntary workforce, which is what makes these biennial conferences so important.

Just before I go, at the last conference I mentioned my in-laws, Ray and Isabel. Isabel had a fall and after hospital the family tried to get various services in. In short, Ray hated the idea, and did his best to deter these hapless service providers. Meals on Wheels weathered the push-back. They were both underweight at the time, so the entire family was relieved, especially those of us far away in Victoria. Ray is now Isabel’s full time Carer. Her dementia is advancing quite quickly and he has come to really appreciate the social interactions with the meals volunteers. I cannot tell you the comfort this gives us. Ray has just been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer so I predict they have very little time left together. There is no way they would have survived as long at home without the service. But let’s just say it’s given them one extra year at home together. That’s cost the Australian government less than $2000 in terms of subsidy per meal for two people, for one year. Ray and Isabel’s little service in rural QLD has just saved the government, a minimum of $100,000 in health costs.

What an amazing service!!!

As we listen, debate and converse over the next 3 days, let’s not forget to celebrate that fact.

Have a great conference.