Labor Responds to Sector Call for Reform
9 August 2010 at 10:43 am
Above: Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin, Assistant Treasurer, Senator Nick Sherry and Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, Senator Ursula Stephens at the Labor policy announcement
The Gillard Labor Government has responded to the Not for Profit Sector's demand for regulatory and funding reform as part of the Federal Election campaign following the results of a national survey developed by Pro Bono Australia and the Centre for Social Impact.
In Melbourne today, the Labor Government has announced it will drive a major reform agenda for Australia’s Not for Profit sector by delivering smarter regulation, reducing red tape and improving transparency and accountability of the sector.
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.
Senator Stephens welcomed the survey, saying it evidenced strong sector support for the Productivity Commission’s recommendations.
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 initial results of the survey show that 89% of participants agreed the Federal Government should establish a specific department to be responsible for Not for Profit sector issues and another 86% said there should be a national registrar, in the form of a one-stop-shop, for charities and community organisations.
The importance of these issues was highlighted by more than 50% of participants adding detailed comments to survey.
At the Labor Government launch at the Brotherhood of St Laurence headquarters today Labor Ministers described their response to the sectors demands as an historic reform plan which will reshape the way the Australian Government regulates, supports and funds this critical sector.
The election reform plan includes:
A new Office for the Not for Profit Sector within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to drive and coordinate the policy reform agenda supported by a new Not for Profit sector Reform Council made up of representatives from across the sector.
Immediate commencement of a scoping study to determine the role and design options for a national ‘one-stop-shop’ regulator for the non-profit sector to remove the complex regulatory arrangements currently in place and streamline reporting arrangements. The scoping study will be finalised early in 2011 and will guide the reform program.
- Reducing red-tape for government-funded NFP organisations by developing a common form contract or ‘master agreement’ and reviewing tendering, contracting and acquittal arrangements between the Australian Government and NFP organisations to streamline and reduce compliance burden commensurate with risk.
The plan also includes greater harmonisation and simplification between the Australian and State and Territory governments on NFP sector issues, including regulation.
The launch was attended by the Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin, The Assistant Treasurer, Nick Sherry and the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion, Ursula Stephens.
Senator Nick Sherry said a national regulator would also boost transparency and accountability in the sector so both ordinary Australians and philanthropists can donate money to Not for Profit organisations with more confidence and a greater understanding of how their donations will make a difference.
He said the Not for Profit sector has huge economic significance, yet it is under-appreciated at the national level.
Senator Sherry said that single point reporting, and the principle of ‘report once, use often’ will help educate the community and government about what is really happening, and the overall significance of the sector.
Over the last 15 years there have been five major reviews of the Not for Profit sector but the Gillard Labor Government says it is the first to commit to a reform package and ongoing sector reform process.
Senator Sherry said that many conversations have taken place between himself, Ursula Stephens, Jenny Macklin and Julia Gillard about the Not for Profit sector.
Sherry said that after so many reviews, enough is enough, it is now time for action.
Sherry said Government would move immediately to implement the National Regulator if re-elected, promising to immediately begin consultation to with the sector about the design and role of the regulator.
The Government says funding for this reform package will be absorbed by Australian Government departments from within existing departmental resources.