Volunteering ‘Victory’ as Government Backtracks on Funding Redesign
14 July 2017 at 5:12 pm
The not-for-profit sector has welcomed the reinstatement of “essential” funding to volunteer management after a hard fought public campaign led by peak body Volunteering Australia.
The Department of Social Services announced on Friday that $19.95 million would be dedicated to Volunteer Management Activity between 1 January 2018 until 30 June 2021.
Volunteering Australia CEO Adrienne Picone told Pro Bono News it was a “victory” and a “milestone achievement” for the sector.
“We are absolutely delighted with the announcement from DSS about designated funding for volunteer support services,” Picone said.
The announcement comes off the back of a successful Volunteering Australia campaign, Tower of Strength, which called for dedicated funding for volunteer support services.
Launched in February 2017, the campaign was in response to the government’s announcement that as on January 2018 funding would fall under Strong and Resilient Communities (SARC) grants.
“We wanted government to understand the unintended consequences of such a redesign,” Picone said.
Picone said while Volunteering Australia in principle supported SARC grants, only some volunteers would be covered under the scheme.
“SARC would only be able to support volunteers within the social services framework so volunteers who fell outside of social services, say environment, education, arts and heritage or emergency services would have been excluded,” she said.
Picone said Volunteering Support Services provided the critical infrastructure required for safe, effective and sustainable volunteering.
She said it was essential to sufficiently fund Volunteering Supports Services to support and resource local volunteering programs and ensure the safe management of volunteers.
Picone said the campaign had received wide support from the social sector.
“We are particularly pleased that Mr Porter listened to our concerns about the unintended consequences of the redesign of the funding and the government has done what they can to redress that.”
She said it was “victory” in recognising the important role volunteers play in Australian life.
“It’s about recognising that volunteering doesn’t just happen in the social services in happens right across community,” she said.
To coincide with the Volunteering Support Services announcement, the government also announced $45 million of funding for the SARC grants over the next three years.
Minister for Social Services Christian Porter, who made the announcement on Friday, said the grants will help foster community cohesion by increasing individual belonging, engagement, and strengthening community capacity.
“Social cohesion is vital to healthy communities and national security,” Porter said.
The funding is for a period of three and a quarter years, from 1 April 2017 until 30 June 2021, through a single series of grant rounds in 2017.
For more information on the SARC grants, visit the www.communitygrants.gov.au.