Australian Greens Respond to Social Policy Manifesto
13 August 2010 at 6:06 pm
One week out from the Federal Election, the Australian Greens deliver a detailed response to the Not for Profit Sector's Social Policy Manifesto.
The response follows the release last week of a survey of over 1,500 people working in the sector conducted by Pro Bono Australia during the first week of the election campaign to gauge support for the recommendations of the recent Productivity Commission Report with the results being sent to the major political parties. The survey was developed in collaboration with the Centre for Social Impact and supported by several organisations, including Volunteering Australia, Philanthropy Australia and the Community Council for Australia.
The Australian Greens addressed each specific item of the Manifesto towards a Thriving Not for Profit Community Sector which we publish below:
1&2. Fix Government-Sector Arrangements and Set up a one-stop-regulatory Shop
The Greens understand the Not for Profit sector faces some crucial challenges which require real reform and sustainable funding to resolve. The sector faces growing demand for services but is struggling to find the skilled and compassionate workers it needs – a problem exacerbated by inadequate service funding and mind-numbing and the pointless bureaucratic duplication demanded of it by government.
The Greens says they welcome the recent announcement by the Prime Minister for a Not for Profit Sector Reform Council and an Office of the Not for Profit Sector. The party believes having the Greens in the Senate to keep a close eye on the Government’s commitments is essential to see that they are delivered.
The Greens also believe it is crucial that this reform is a two-way process, and not something that the Minister's office or government departments look to impose on Not for Profit services.
The Greens believe the main priorities that need to be addressed immediately by the Office of the Not for Profit Sector are realistic indexation of funding, fixing the problems with fringe benefits tax, and ensuring the outcomes of pay claims before Fair Work Australia are properly funded.
3. Build Knowledge
The Greens are supportive of the NFP sector establishing a national online resource that presents data and information about community and Not for Profit organisations and support a role for government in facilitating this initiative.
4. Apply Common Sense to Tax Concessions
The Greens are very supportive of streamlining of tax concessions. Every dollar saved and every minute freed up from filling out unnecessary paperwork means more time and resources to dedicate to Australians in need
5. Sort out Vetting Systems
Similarly, the Greens are supportive of the development of a national standard for background checking including working with children checks provided community consultation and appropriate standards are ensured.
6&7. Encourage Giving and Enable Sensible Use of Borrowed Money
The Greens believe the government can play a role in both promoting and supporting planned giving to the NFP sector and facilitating access to finance. The Party is particularly supportive of government initiatives to assist in building business planning skills in the sector. However, such initiatives should not be seen by government as a replacement for fully funding the services provided by the NFP sector to the community.
8. Move Toward Wage Justice
The Greens have been particularly strong advocates for a sustainable workforce for the NFP sector and we recognise a key part of that is fair wages that reflect the value of the work performed. They says they are strong supporters of the SACS pay equity claim and have already publicly called for the government to fund organisations to cover increased pay rates that result from the claim.
9. Help Volunteering
The Greens recognise the contribution of Australia's more than 5.4 million volunteers.
The Party says it understands that the good work of many charities, Not for Profits and other organisations would not be able to succeed without the hard work and dedication of volunteers but that the huge contribution given by volunteers is commonly overlooked, particularly in Government operations. Senator Rachel Siewert has moved in the Senate to acknowledge National Volunteer Week to thank and congratulate those huge numbers of volunteers that deliver incalculable benefit to our community. The Greens believe the government has a role in assisting the NFP sector in promoting volunteering.
10. Support Innovation
The Greens says they appreciate the value of innovation and the need for new programs or approaches to be trialled and support the government investing in innovation in the Not for Profit sector.
11. Prioritise Community Wellbeing
The Greens have long been supporters of more realistic measure of progress that include environmental, health, social and well being indicators. and agree that GDP is an imperfect measure of national progress.