Penelope Transformed Our Organization's Ability to Transform Lives

By the time Judith Cross was in her early twenties, she knew she wanted to become a social worker.

Now the Chief Executive Officer at RASA, Cross was initially inspired to enter the social services field after witnessing some family members go through difficult periods in their personal lives.

"I was really interested initially in the individual's personal journey," she said. "I was interested in what could be done to support people to actually create change in their lives, and I was interested in a career at that time in a very individual-focused level that would help support people to turn their lives around when they hit a rocky patch in their life."

After training in social work, Cross began her career working in the field of child and family therapy. She later moved into administrative and management positions, before becoming CEO of the Centre of Personal Education (COPE) and then moving into the same position at RASA in 2001.

COPE and RASA had previously been one organization and, after Cross moved to RASA's head office in Adelaide, the two organizations reunited to create a provider offering what Cross said is a "unique span of services."

As a result of the merger, RASA's services now range from family dispute resolution and couples counselling services to community development and training work, Cross said.

"We have a really well integrated range of services, all coming from a population health and primary health care perspective. This allows us to work across a range of issues with different population groups, looking at what sort of outcomes we're achieving for individuals and also to measure what we're achieving in communities or larger population groups," she said.

Though RASA already had an electronic system in place to collect data when Cross joined the organization - a relative rarity in 2001 and an indicator of the organization's forward-thinking approach to social services - the legacy system was limited in its capabilities and Cross knew the company needed to explore new options.

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