Centre for Excellence Revealed - Call for $100M Investment
Thursday, 30th April 2015 at 10:55 am
The full scoping report into the Federal Government’s proposed controversial National Centre for Excellence has been released with a call for a $100m investment to develop civil society capacity and collaboration.
The Centre for Social Impact (CSI) released the final report, which it delivered to Government last year, proposing a model for a National Centre for Excellence (NCE) to be established with a one?off endowment of $100m, potentially to be raised through a ten?year Government bond.
CSI said the report was the result of four months of consultation with over 500 community and civil society representatives.
In December 2014, Centre for Social Impact CEO Dr Andrew Young told Pro Bono Australia News that he had been actively pursuing permission to publicly release the report.
The Centre for Social Impact was commissioned by the Federal Government in June 2014 to develop a preferred model for a National Centre for Excellence – originally earmarked as a replacement for the charity regulator, the ACNC – and CSI confirmed that it had delivered its final recommendation to the Federal Government in October 2014.
The final scoping report proposes that the NCE should:
Be established as a joint venture building on the strengths of existing organisations, rather than duplicating the work already done by existing organisations. The NCE’s governance should be innovative and empowering and based on a cooperative, mutual and/or joint venture model;
Focus on “what works” (social outcomes, evidence and measurement), growing and enabling collaborative approaches, and capacity development for civil society organisations;
Be resourced using a model that creates independence from Government and sustainability for the longer term;
Complement the Australian Charities and Not?for?profit Commission (ACNC), rather than replace it. The consultation process confirmed widespread support for the retention of the ACNC; if there is a simple choice between establishing the NCE and retaining the ACNC, stakeholders prefer the retention of the ACNC.
“Here is the opportunity for Government to make a one?off investment to establish an NCE that reflects the needs of civil society organisations, and to empower the development of a more effective, evidence?based and collaborative community sector,” Dr Andrew Young said.
“The recently published Intergenerational Report demonstrates that Australia can no longer afford to continue to simply increase funding for social programs. To be effective, we need to rebalance accountability for community outcomes; we need greater community ownership and empowerment and less reliance on Government to solve everything.
“The report reflects the stakeholders’ desire for an NCE that represents ‘stronger civil society organisations connecting people, organisations and sectors to create stronger civil society’.
“The overwhelming sentiment of those who have been interviewed, participated in workshops and responded to surveys is that they are tired of the community sector not being taken seriously by Government; they are frustrated by constant change in Government policy and the lack of vision for the role of the sector in addressing social outcomes in the future.
“The establishment of the NCE would change the course of the relationship between Government and the social sector for the better.”
Young said community stakeholders spoke out strongly against the formation of a new entity that duplicates what existing organisations do, instead calling for the NCE to build capacity and collaboration in the social purpose sector through existing organisations, with a focus on effective outcomes.
“In all of these roles, the NCE’s focus should be to enable stronger communities and local organisations in particular,” he said.
“The resourcing model has been proposed in response to overwhelming community feedback about the need for sustainability and independence.
“While the proposed $100m endowment is a large investment, it represents less than one quarter of one percent of the amount Australian Government spend in funding to the NFP sector every year. In this context it represents a very small investment in the capacity, resilience and contribution of civil society in the future.”
In addition, the report suggests ways in which the community might play a substantial role in resourcing the NCE alongside Government; for example, the endowment could be funded through a special?purpose ten?year Government bond with the investment capital coming from a range of social investors.
The report recommends a two-stage implementation process, beginning with a business planning and market sounding project to develop the business plan and financial model.
“At the completion of this work, the Government and community commitments can be confirmed before a selection process through collaborative proposals commences.Both the business planning project and the selection process should be overseen by a Commissioning Council or “interim board” with diverse representation from community and (NFP) organisations,” it said.
Frydenberg said at the Forum that the Federal Government was still committed to abolishing the ACNC. “… but as long as the ACNC is there then there might not be the same pressing need for a Centre of Excellence,” he said.
“We had a commitment to abolish the ACNC and to repeal the definition of charity and also to move back those responsibilities to ASIC and to the Australian Tax Office and to also set up a Centre for National Excellence.
“That commitment still stands, but after discussing this issue with the Minister Scott Morrison I can say to you that it’s not a priority for us to proceed with that at this time. So the commitment still stands but it’s not a priority to proceed with it at this time.”
The full CSI report can be downloaded HERE.