Federal Government Calls for National NGO Standard
4 February 2002 at 12:02 pm
Allegations that a Government funded Victorian Not for Profit child welfare agency allowed supervised glue and paint sniffing among its young clients has seen the Federal Government call for national guidelines on Non Government Organisations (NGO) standards.
The Federal Minister for Family and Community Services Senator Amanda Vanstone says reports that children in state funded care are permitted to engage in glue and paint sniffing raises serious questions about the standards of care that Governments should demand of NGOs.
The organisation at the centre of a barrage of continuing and mixed media attention is Berry Street Victoria that has been quick to clarify the situation.
At the time, the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks threatened to withdraw funding from Berry Street over the allegations.
However Senator Vanstone took the opportunity to attack the Bracks Labor Government saying she would ensure that the matter is brought up at the next Community Services Ministers’ Conference meeting.
She says taxpayers should be confident that government funds paid to community organisations are being used in a manner that is consistent with community values.
The Minister says that at the next Community Services Minister’s Conference she will propose that national guidelines be adopted for the funding of community organisations that ensure that community values are upheld if taxpayers’ money is being used.
She says State Governments have a responsibility to ensure that they know what is going on in facilities that they fund within their state.
She added that the Commonwealth has an interest in this matter because state governments administer a number of community service programs on the Commonwealth’s behalf and the community relies on them to ensure that there are appropriate standards of care.
Despite the political bickering, the real issue about ‘chroming’ or paint and glue sniffing is still a major issue for the community and Berry Street Victoria.
Berry Street Victoria’s CEO Sandie de Wolf released a statement saying the organisation refuted the inference in the Melbourne Herald Sun newspaper that it operated ‘sniffing rooms’ in its residential care units.
De Wolf says the report is a superficial analysis of a very real and very significant problem in our society.
She says Berry Street does not operate sniffing rooms and does not condone the use of drugs of any kind.
She says the organisation ‘takes care of very troubled young people, many of whom have significant existing drug use issues when they come into our care and we do everything we can to keep them safe while we try to help them change their behaviour and get off drugs’.
She says ‘Berry Street Victoria looks after the most troubled and disadvantaged kids in Victoria and we have been doing so for 125 years’.
She says it is ‘for these young people that Berry Street constructs individual strategies that allow us to try to keep them safe, while we work on the myriad problems that our kids have, which lead them to turn to drugs’.
The next Community Services Ministers’ Conference meeting is due in late February. Watch this space!
If you have an opinion of the Federal Minister’s proposal for national guidelines on standards for NGOs why not post them on our web site Forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.