Funding Cuts Force Volunteering Tasmania Restructure
Wednesday, 1st June 2016 at 5:35 pm
Funding cuts and changes in the sector have forced Volunteering Tasmania to close one of its three offices and lay off a full-time staff member.
Volunteering Tasmania CEO Adrienne Picone said the organisation lost 51 per cent of its federal funding last year from the Strengthening Communities Program.
“As an organisation we’ve been trying to recover from that hit, and we really have been trying to continue with business as usual,” Picone told Pro Bono Australia News.
“But just in the current climate we felt like we haven’t been able to do that, and if we continue with business as usual moving forward we would have made a really significant loss.”
In the most significant change, Volunteering Tasmania will close its North West office, located in South Burnie, on 30 June. It was first opened in South Burnie more than a decade ago.
The North West office was staffed by one full-time employee who will lose their job.
“It’s been a huge, huge decision for the board. We’ve had an office in the North West region for 10 years now, and we really value the relationships we’ve built in that region over the last 10 years, we’ve had some fantastic staff members who’ve really done a lot to help people find volunteering and help organisations to look after their volunteers more effectively,” Picone said.
“We’re really disappointed we won’t have a physical presence in that region, but we’re really very committed to and keen to continue to have relationships in that region and service that region. Not being able to do that with a physical presence will be challenging.”
The Hobart and Launceston offices will remain open, but Picone said the closure of the North West location would put pressure on the other offices.
“It will put a lot more pressure on the organisation, and what we’re actually doing is a restructure of the entire organisation,” she said.
“We’re actually moving people into different roles, changing the way we provide services and refocusing our strategic plan. It’s a real rethink of the organisation.”
She said that Volunteering Tasmania had already been looking at making changes to the way it operates.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to do this year is diversify our income and be less reliant on government funding, but one of the ways we’ve been trying to do that is through fee-for-service and what we’re actually finding is so many organisations across the Not for Profit sector are struggling and are reeling from many funding cuts, and there’s so little money out there,” she said.
Volunteering took another hit in this year’s federal budget, with a $12 million cut to a major volunteer program.
National peak body Volunteering Australia said volunteer support organisations would need to brace for the disastrous impact of a dramatic cut to the Department of Social Services Strengthening Communities Program.
Volunteering Tasmania CEO Adrienne Picone said the organisation would continue to fight against funding cuts.