Tasmania’s Volunteer Peak Fights for Funding Survival
23 April 2015 at 11:47 am
An Queensland organisation has been funded by the Department of Social Services to deliver volunteer services to Tasmania instead of the long-standing local peak body, the Senate inquiry into the Government’s welfare tender process has been told.
The Senate Community Affairs References Committee hearing was told that Volunteering Tasmania has only received funds to deliver services to Greater Hobart, Brighton, Sorell, Ulverstone, Devonport and Burnie.
Committee member and Tasmanian Labor Senator Catryna Bilyk said the situation was bizarre.
“The grant for the remainder of the State has been given to a Queensland-based consortium with no history of community connections in Tasmania, and very limited local knowledge, obtained only through their recent association with an organisation whose core business is disability and community support,” Senator Bilyk said.
“Why the Abbott Government thinks it’s appropriate to fund an organisation based thousands of kilometres away ahead of a Tasmanian organisation with a long history of localised knowledge and experience is beyond me.
“This decision will remove a wealth of local knowledge from the volunteer sector and will lead to fragmented service delivery across the state.”
Addressing the hearing, CEO of Volunteering Tasmania, Adrienne Picone, described the situation as “a most unusual set of circumstances”.
Picone told the hearing that no-one in DSS had been able to explain the rationale for the decision and Volunteering Tasmania was “really at a loss to understand the logic behind this decision.”
“The DSS tendering process has left Volunteering Tasmania with no opportunity for strategic planning due to the very short grant timeframes, and serious challenges to continuing delivery of a statewide service,” Picone said.
“We have a highly skilled and experienced team of local people, who work with great systems that support our services, and in turn, volunteering.
“We think the DSS decision to redirect funds from Volunteering Tasmania to an operation with very similar service offerings to ours, but without our valuable local knowledge, networks, nor service history in the Tasmanian Not for Profit and Volunteer sector, is nothing short of baffling.”
Senator Bilyk said that Social Services Minister Scott Morrison owed the sector an explanation for the Government’s “disastrous mismanagement and brutal cuts”.
“The Minister must come clean and explain to Tasmania’s 400,000 volunteers why he thinks they are not all entitled to service from their state’s peak body for volunteering,” Senator Bilyk said.
“He must also immediately restore full funding to Volunteering Tasmania.
“Clearly the Abbott Government’s new tender process is seriously flawed and has been overwhelmingly rejected by the community sector across Australia.”
Volunteering Tasmania said the DSS funding guidelines had emphasised the importance of place-based initiatives.
“Despite these guidelines, Volunteering Tasmania has only been funded to support two pockets of communities in the North West and South of Tasmania.The DSS have provided Volunteering Tasmania with no rationale for this decision, despite many enquiries,” Adrienne Picone said.
“These actions are at odds with the DSS’ stated objective of providing “a foundation for integrated, community-led program delivery that understands and meets local needs.”
Read Pro Bono Australia’s additional coverage from the Senate Hearing HERE.
Read CCA CEO David Crosbie’s Opinion on the Senate Inquiry into DSS Funding HERE.