Predictions for 2019: Philanthropy
10 January 2019 at 8:36 am
In 2019 we will see philanthropy leadership excel, writes policy and research manager at Philanthropy Australia Sarah Wickham, in the first in a series of predictions for the coming year from leading experts across the social sector.
When asked for my opinion on 2019 predictions for the Australian philanthropic community the word leadership instantly came to mind.
During 2018, in my position as policy and research manager at Philanthropy Australia, I saw many of our country’s philanthropists lean into their power. This leadership was most sharply harnessed against the proposed changes of the Electoral Act that threatened the advocacy rights of charities, including philanthropic foundations, to engage in issues-based policy advocacy. Philanthropists working in alliance with civil society organisations through the #HandsOffOurCharities campaign, ensured members of Parliament across all parties agreed to sensible amendments. I was proud of the way in which our philanthropic leaders stood up for the values of our sector.
I have witnessed a shift in the way philanthropists are choosing to make impact through their giving, taking bold action to support a more equitable and prosperous Australia evident in the Victorian Home Stretch and the Marriage Equality campaigns. I strongly believe there is an appetite to grow and develop this advocacy leadership in 2019.
2019 brings the much-awaited federal election and many philanthropists have their own policy agendas to pursue. Recently, a growing group, including The Myer Foundation, The Snow Foundation, The Fay Fuller Foundation and The Wyatt Trust have combined resources to support the Australian Council of Social Service’s (ACOSS) Raise the Rate Campaign. The campaign has a funding target of $625,000. Raise the Rate seeks to:
- Increase the rate of Newstart at a minimum of $75 per week;
- Index payments to wages as well as consumer price index (CPI) to maintain pace with community living standards; and
- Increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by $20 per week for a single person on Newstart.
Increasing the rate of Newstart and Youth Allowance is the single most effective step we can take to reduce poverty in Australia and I am excited to be part of the philanthropic sector leadership supporting the Raise the Rate campaign in 2019. According to economic modelling from Deloitte Access Economics and UNSW, the above three measures would ensure a new rate of Newstart provides the minimum income that single unemployed people need to afford the cost of living essentials. Raising the level of Newstart would benefit entire communities, improving people’s wellbeing, security and health. It’s been 24 years since the rate of Newstart has been increased, back when Paul Keating was prime minister and the cost of petrol was 66 cents per litre.
The charitable sector can also expect further leadership from philanthropists this year calling upon the federal government to modernise Australia’s fundraising legislation. By making amendments to Australian Consumer Law we could see the end to decades of outdated fundraising laws, to enable fit-for-purpose, national fundraising regulation that keeps pace with technology advances. Philanthropy Australia are proud founding members of the Fix Fundraising campaign and look forward to strengthen this lobbying effort during the 2019 federal election campaign.
2019 is the year philanthropists have the opportunity to have their voice heard and to enable change and, given what I observed last year, I believe we will see and hear many philanthropic leaders do so. The biennial Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit will take place in Canberra on 18 and 19 September and it will be the first opportunity for philanthropic and charitable leaders to come together post the federal election to discuss the role of philanthropy and government and explore key opportunities for collaboration. Through the summit, and other Philanthropy Australia forums, the sector will continue to explore big issues like the declining trust and transparency in our key institutions and how this affects our democracy and public policy development, philanthropic support for public interest journalism and strengthening the capacity of civic leadership.
So, if 2019 is to be the year of leadership, please join some of Australia’s philanthropic leaders in advocating for the more than three quarters of a million people in communities across Australia living on unemployment and student payments that do not cover the basic costs of living – housing, food, transport and healthcare. If you also believe it would be impossible to live on less than $40 per day to cover all your basic living costs, then you should get involved in the 2019 Raise the Rate campaign – the single most effective step we can take to reduce poverty in Australia!
About the author: Sarah Wickham is the policy and research manager at Philanthropy Australia.