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Staff Reporter

Monday, 17th August 2009 at 4:38 pm

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Downturn Provides Golden Opportunity For Third Sector – VCOSS Congress

By Staff Reporter,

The Third Sector has a golden opportunity to shape the post recession economy, according to Julie Unwin, Chief Executive of the UK based Joseph Rowntree Foundation, an independent development and social research charity.
Unwin was speaking at the VCOSS Congress in Melbourne, aimed at exploring the challenges and opportunities for promoting social equity during the economic downturn. 
Unwin says that whilst the Third Sector is facing a "perfect storm" of challenges, the global financial crisis has provided the sector with an opportunity too good to waste.
Unwin says the third sector has a golden opportunity to shape the post recession economy, by focusing on developing a strong, adaptive civil society.
She says that whilst many people want to snap back to pre-crisis normality, those in the third sector know that normal isn’t good enough for the poor and disadvantaged.
Unwin says conditions before the economic crisis were not sustainable, and they were not just for the disadvantaged and marginalised.
A strong adaptive civil society is absolutely essential in creating a post recession world, Unwin says, because although we are experiencing a global crisis, the problems are just as much local, and require local responses.
She describes the current conditions facing the third sector as the ‘perfect storm’, consisting of three parts – demography and the implications of the ageing population, which Unwin describes as the car crash we saw coming, climate change and the global economic crisis, which she says resulted in a loss of confidence and trust in financial institutions.
She says that we need a strong government that can make hard decisions, and a brave Third Sector that speaks for the disadvantaged.
Unwin warned delegates that the social recession will far outlive the economic recession.
Julie Unwin is the Chief Executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust, two leading UK charities working to understand the root causes of social problems, and identify ways to overcome them.
Unwin was one of eight keynote speakers at the annual VCOSS Congress, which provided the 150 delegates with a broad range of topics and workshops over the two days.


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