NFP Sector Demands Action on Social Policy Reform
Thursday, 5th August 2010 at 5:35 pm
In a wake up call to Australia's political leaders, the Not for Profit sector is demanding that the major political parties commit to regulatory and funding reform as part of the Federal Election campaign following the results of a national survey.
A survey of over 1,500 people working in the sector was 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 and Philanthropy 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.
Pro Bono Australia's publishers say the timing and content of the survey has hit a nerve, with the sector demanding action from the country's political leaders.
The survey collaborators say the major political parties have so far made significant announcements regarding: mental health, child care, population growth, immigration, border protection, parental leave, aged care, homelessness, and disability services, including support for the mooted National Disability Insurance Scheme.
However, they say all the political parties have ignored the backbone of civil society: the Not for Profit sector, comprising 600,000 organisations, with 4.6 million volunteers, employing 8% of the workforce and contributing $41 billion to Australia’s GDP.
Pro Bono Australia publishers, Karen Mahlab and David James say that for the first time, there is extensive feedback from people in and around the Not for Profit community sector about the Productivity Commission recommendations and they called on the major political parties to respond.
CSI's Director of research Les Hems says it’s now time for action as the survey reveals a clear desire to create a thriving Not for Profit sector. But, he says, the political parties must commit to a reform agenda before the voters go to the polls.
The Community Council for Australia (CCA) has called on the main parties to also commit to a framework and timeline for implementing the Productivity Commission’s recommendations on reforming the sector.
The Commission’s report, published in February 2010, made 39 recommendations for removing red tape and improving regulation of Australia’s diverse Not for Profit sector.
CCA chairman and World Vision CEO, Rev Tim Costello says Australia’s NFP sector is beset by a range of complex and prohibitive rules and regulations as well as layers and duplicity of legislation.
He says despite the importance of Australia’s NFP sector to every facet of life in this country we’re yet to see either Labor or the Coalition put their cards on the table in terms of a response to the Productivity Commission’s report.
Mission Australia CEO and CCA Director, Toby Hall says establishing a national ‘one-stop-shop’ – a national NFP Registrar – to consolidate Commonwealth regulatory oversight and tax endorsement would reduce compliance costs for the sector and improve its effectiveness.