Boosting Philanthropy For A Stronger Australia
11 September 2017 at 5:16 pm
Boosting philanthropy is a fundamental part of building a stronger Australia, Labor MP Andrew Leigh has told audiences at the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, in a speech calling for greater support of the ACNC and addressing the need to fix fundraising.
Following Christian Porter’s address discussing the latest figures from the Giving Australia 2016 project, the shadow minister for charities and not-for-profits said he was keen “not merely to document these worrying trends but also to think about what we can do to reverse them”.
“Part of that answer must be in ensuring that we have a strong charities commission,” Leigh said.
He paid tribute to Susan Pascoe for her “steady leadership” of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission and questioned Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar’s decision not to meet with the board or renew Pascoe’s appointment.
“We need bipartisan support to return to the charities commission if we’re to make sure that it can do its important work of reducing the paperwork burden for Australian charities,” Leigh said.
He called on the government to recognise the value of advocacy.
“Advocacy is a crucial part of what charities do, from the environmental, to the social, to the legal sector,” he said.
“Charities aren’t a cheap way of getting the work of government done.
“They’re also a crucial part of our social fabric. Charities use the knowledge that they develop on the frontline to inform better policies.”
Leigh also used his address at Parliament House on Monday to reiterate his support for the Fix Fundraising campaign.
He said the rise of online fundraising made it “more and more bizarre” to have state based registrations which required charities “to spend a week a year doing the paperwork for every jurisdiction in Australia or just register in one jurisdiction and cross your fingers you don’t get caught”.
“That’s not good enough,” he said.
“We need to make sure that we have strong fundraising laws to maintain the high standing in which Australia’s charities are held. That isn’t a guarantee.
“In Britain, we had the terrible tragedy of 76 year-old Olive Cooke, a woman who was said to have received 3,000 requests for charitable before she took her own life. The ensuing debate led to a significant drop in the standing of the charitable sector. We need to fix fundraising to streamline paperwork for charities, but also to safeguard charities against these reputational risks.”
Leigh also talked about Reconnected forums he had held around Australia to work with charities “to discuss ideas to spark a civic renaissance”.
He called on charities and not for profits interested in “road-testing” some of the ideas that had come out of the forums to get in touch with him.