The fall of BEST: Non-profit group rocked by turmoil

BEST Community Development was rocked by upheaval in the years leading to its demise.

Only weeks after the closure of Cafe BEST in March 2010, the board agreed to pour $750,000 into an international venture.

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Under a deal struck with British job services provider CDG UK, BEST CDG aimed to take advantage of new federal funding for disability employment services.

But the coming year was to be a challenging one, with chairperson Erich Sinkis noting the need to strengthen the co-operative’s financial position.

Long-term chief executive officer Ron Stone retired in November 2011 and acting chief executive Philip Murphy was appointed for the transition.

In March 2012, BEST CD announced it was amalgamating with the Ballarat-based BRACE Education, Training and Employment.

But over the course of the year the BEST board was faced with a deteriorating financial performance and lack of stability at a senior management level when a string of board members and executives departed.

That November, Frankston based training organisation Skills Plus became involved in the running of BEST and BRACE.

Skills Plus chief executive officer Sue Cattermole said it wasn’t a takeover but they would

work “collaboratively” to share resources, expertise and to secure government contracts.

BEST CDG was wound up in 2013 after failing to achieve key partnership bids.

This month, BEST CD members were asked to meet over a proposal to wind up the Ballarat-based co-operative and end its 40 year history as an employment and disability service provider in Ballarat.

Melbourne accountancy firm Romanis Cant, which provides liquidation and insolvency services, said a statement would be available on Monday.

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