Sharper Focus for Victorian Community Support Fund After Critical Report
Tuesday, 24th November 2009 at 11:39 am
In the report tabled in State Parliament, the Auditor General Des Pearson says the fund’s overall performance can not presently be assessed as it has no explicit objectives, and there is no monitoring, evaluation or reporting of its overall effectiveness.
However he says the money granted from the Fund generally complied with the law governing it and those who received the money spent it properly under the criteria set.
The Community Support Fund was established in Victoria in 1991 using revenue from poker machines to address problem gambling and drug abuse as well as supporting the arts, youth programs and sport. The Fund earns around $100 million a year in tax revenue from hotel poker machines.
Pearson says the performance problem has occurred because the fund is managed from a narrow compliance perspective reflecting its status as a trust fund.
He says while administering agencies separately evaluate their own CSF-funded initiatives, less regard has been given to what outcomes have been achieved across the entire fund from the significant outlays of public money.
Pearson also points out that there is no single source of public information about annual CSF expenditure set out in legislation by category, by recipient, by project and/or geographical location across all CSF program.
He says this limits Parliament’s capacity to assess the fund’s performance and results in a lack of transparency over the use of CSF funds.
The Community Development Minister Peter Batchelor defended the handling of the fund but said the Government would sharpen the criteria used when assessing funding applications for the Community Support Fund.
The Minister says the Government is committed to enhancing transparency and a new CSF website would bring the wide range of investments made under the fund together in one place for the first time.
The Auditor Generals Report can be downloaded at www.audit.vic.gov.au/reports__publications/reports_by_year/2009-10/20091111csf.aspx