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Call for Voluntary Community Groups Peak Body


22 November 2012 at 1:02 pm
Staff Reporter
A campaign to set up a peak body for Australia’s voluntary community groups is being developed by the Centre for Civil Society.

Staff Reporter | 22 November 2012 at 1:02 pm


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Call for Voluntary Community Groups Peak Body
22 November 2012 at 1:02 pm

A campaign to set up a peak body for Australia’s voluntary community groups is being developed by the Centre for Civil Society.

And a national workshop has been organised for February 2013 to establish an inaugural Leadership Council.

Vern Hughes from the Centre for Civil Society says Australia has 700,000 community organisations and Not for Profits. About 35,000 of these employ one or more staff, and many of these deliver community services for governments.

“The other 665,000 community organisations do not employ staff and rely on voluntary resources in serving their communities and generating social capital and belonging," Hughes said. 

“In neighbourhoods and communities, self-help activity and service to others, sporting activity and recreation, arts and culture, conservation and heritage, education and health care, faith and spirituality, these voluntary community groups constitute the social fabric of Australia."

He says that despite their pivotal role in social life, voluntary community groups lack a voice and are unrepresented in public decision-making.

“When governments consult with community organisations, they usually talk to the 5% with paid staff and service delivery contracts, and ignore the other 95%," he said. 

He says the Productivity Commission Report on the Contribution of the Not-For-Profit Sector in Australia in 2010 repeated the pattern of recognising only the 5% of Not for Profits that are run by paid staff to deliver government services.

“Following this report, the Commonwealth established a Not-For-Profit Sector Reform Council comprising organisations which deliver government services. It also established a National Compact with community organisations which deliver government services to facilitate better understanding with these groups, while ignoring the 95% of community organisations that serve other purposes,” he said.

Hughes says a national peak body of voluntary community organisations will redress this lack of voice and representation, and generate a visibility for voluntary community groups in public life that matches their social and community value.

“A national peak body of voluntary community organisations will be a lean instrument of voice, representation and leadership, not a provider of services or member benefits and will advocate for major regulatory reform to create a less burdensome operating environment for voluntary community organisations."

To register your interest in participating in the workshop, complete this online form.



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