Sector To Respond to Senate Funding Inquiry
Tuesday, 17th February 2015 at 9:33 am
The Not for Profit sector is preparing to make submissions to the Senate inquiry into how the Department of Social Services provides funding grants to community services brought on by the Greens last week.
Community Council for Australia CEO, David Crosbie, said his organisation, which represents a significant number of charities and Not for Profits, would be responding to the inquiry.
“By any measure, the recent DSS Grant program has created higher levels of uncertainty in the Not for Profit sector,” Crosbie said.
“Uncertainty is one of the greatest barriers to Not for Profit sector organisations being able to effectively serve their communities. Increasing uncertainty leads to less investment by organisations in critical areas like; recruiting and retaining high quality staff, investing in the future capacity of the organisation, seeking to improve the quality of programs and services, seeking to generate new sources of income.
“Governments that do not effectively manage grant programs and create uncertainty within Not for Profit organisations will always be held accountable, not only by the sector they are undermining, but also by the broader community who rely on a strong Not for Profit sector for their economic and social well-being.”
Greens spokesperson on family and community services, Senator Rachel Siewert, said last week the inquiry would address the “shambolic” grants process that she claimed was leaving essential services across the sector without funding.
“The grants application process introduced by the Government is a debacle that has left seismic shockwaves through community services,” Siewert said.
Siewert said that funding cuts and a difficult grants process were making life difficult for community organisations.
"The budget saw cuts of $240 million to programs funded under the Department of Social Services, the subsequent grants process has made cuts throughout the sector and it is important that we get an understanding of where and why cuts have been made. There needs to be accountability and transparency in this process,” she said.
"The inquiry will thoroughly examine the Government's decision making process and the way they have gone about delivering these significant and harmful cuts. The inquiry will examine the impact of these cuts on the service quality, efficiency and sustainability of the sector, as well as the ability of organisations to properly advocate on behalf of their clients. Consultation, timeframes and the decision making processes used by the Government will also be examined.
"Community organisations and those who access their services were unnerved at the prospect of reducing or losing their funding and will be relieved by news of this inquiry.”
Last month Social Services Minister, Scott Morrison, ended a period of particular uncertainty when he made a surprise announcement that he would provide bridging funding to organisations that had previously been told they had lost funding.
“Social services grants support front line services being delivered in our communities, by our communities. My highest priority as we transition to new arrangements is that access to critical frontline services is not interrupted and we avoid unintended consequences,” Morrison said.
“The bridging funding is about ensuring we don’t allow front line service gaps to emerge in critical areas.
“Providers of ongoing frontline services under the grants program will have their funding extended to 30 June 2015 while new services are properly established and clients are appropriately referred. For emergency relief service providers we expect a more rapid transition process and will extend current funding arrangements for these services to 31 March 2015.”
Details on how to make a submission and the terms of Reference are on the Australian Parliament website.