The Australian Financial Complaints Authority’s Chief Operating Officer, Justin Untersteiner, has been recognised as one of Australia’s leading not-for-profit executives in CEO Magazine’s prestigious Executive of the Year Awards.
Mr Untersteiner was named runner-up in the Not-for-Profit Executive of the Year for his sector-leading initiatives in support of gender equity, as well as his leadership of major projects at AFCA that include a new funding model for the four-year-old organisation.
“Justin is an exceptional leader who motivates and inspires the people around him,” AFCA’s Chief Executive and Chief Ombudsman, David Locke, said. “This is a wonderful achievement and acknowledges Justin’s contributions not just at AFCA but more broadly.”
AFCA is an ombudsmen service that works with consumers and financial firms to resolve disputes. It began work in November 2018 as a “one-stop shop” bringing together the work of three predecessor organisations. AFCA registers more than 70,000 complaints a year and employs about 800 people.
In a new parental leave policy this year, the organisation introduced the ability to spread an increased amount of leave over two years and removed the traditional terms “primary” and “secondary” caregiver.
Mr Untersteiner – who works four days a week to be able to spend more time with his young family – said the aim is to support all parents being able to have time with a new child, in a way that works for them.
“My hope is that these changes will not only have an impact for our people but will also influence practice in the sector,” he said.
“We know that, nationally, almost 90 per cent of parental leave is taken by women. We want to change that statistic – we want to see more men having time with their children at home, and more women active in the workplace so we can reduce critical skills gaps in Australia.”
AFCA also introduced gender affirmation leave as part of its package of changes.
“As an advocate for gender equality and for flexibility I am so proud of the changes we’ve made. I’ve already had our people tell me how important it has been for them,” Mr Untersteiner said. “We’ve also seen a high level of interest from outside AFCA, which shows just how big an issue this is. We hope to help turn the dial.”
Mr Untersteiner was also integrally involved in the development of a new funding model for AFCA, implemented this year, which has won support for its sustainable and fair user-pays approach and for the extensive consultation process ahead of its introduction.
“This new model will create a sustainable AFCA that is even better able to provide its services to the community and financial firm members,” Mr Untersteiner said.
He also led the development of a three-year strategic plan for AFCA, which has already seen major data and analytics projects delivered, along with AFCA’s first culture strategy.
“As a not-for-profit, and an organisation funded by members, its critically important that we are as efficient and lean as possible,” Mr Untersteiner said. Further infrastructure projects in coming months and years – including a new case management system – would continue to support efficiency.
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