Productivity Commission Report - Much Needed Stimulus
12 February 2010 at 11:47 am
The Centre for Social Impact at the Australian School of Business says the recommendations of the Productivity Commission will provide a much needed stimulus for the development of an evidence base that will lead to better public policy, more effective practice, and higher levels of social and corporate community investment.
The Report into the Contribution of the Not for Profit Sector shows that Australian NFP organisations employ 8 per cent of the paid workforce and contribute $43 billion to Australia’s GDP; and also provide the platform for the work of 4.6 million volunteers with a wage equivalent of $15 billion.
Les Hems, the Director of Research at the Centre for Social Impact says a sector of this scale needs a robust and sustainable evidence base.
Hems says academic institutions – including the Centre for Social Impact – have a crucial role to play in building this evidence base.
One of the recommendations tasks the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to formulate an Information Development Plan.
Hems says that to achieve this the ABS must harness the efforts of the existing network of researchers and help them access resources to expand their research programs.
He says it is also essential that Not for Profit organisations are actively engaged in the development of the evidence base and that it is not perceived as an imposition on the sector. A considerable amount of the current work of the Centre for Social Impact is focused on engagement and knowledge transfer.
Hems says that ideally the evidence base should be seen more as a Knowledge Exchange – where Not for Profit organisations are helping shape the information requirements, contributing information, and most importantly, are benefiting from the knowledge created.
He says whilst the Productivity Commission report acknowledges the role for the internet, it probably does not fully articulate the power and also efficiency of a web based Knowledge Exchange.
The report also recommends significant changes to the regulatory and institutional framework of the Not for Profit sector – including the establishment of a Registrar for Community and Charitable Purpose Organisations, an Office for Nonprofit Sector Engagement, and a Centre for Community Service Effectiveness.
Les Hems says the Productivity Commission rightfully acknowledges that these changes will take time to implement and academics can play a key role by building and sharing knowledge that both government and Not for Profit organisations can use to develop a better understanding of each other. A realistic timescale will also provide an opportunity to test the efficacy of alternative models for regulatory oversight and capacity building.
The Centre for Social Impact says it looks forward to playing an active role in these initiatives going forward.
Les Hems says he also wants to acknowledge the pivotal role of Professor Mark Lyons, the previous Director of Research at the Centre for Social Impact who passed away in November 2009.
He says Mark devoted himself unstintingly to the development of Not for Profit studies and the Australian NFP sector study has been deeply enriched by his work.
The Productivity Commission report on the ‘Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector’ can be downloaded from: www.pc.gov.au/projects/study/not-for-profit/report
Director of Research
Centre for Social Impact
UNSW Sydney NSW 2052
TEL: +61 2 9385 9896
Mobile: +61 401 710 415