Government unveils stimulus support for charities
23 March 2020 at 5:36 pm
But sector advocates say more help for the sector is desperately needed
Around 30,000 not for profits will be given a tax-free payment of up to $100,000 to help them keep staff and continue operating throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Morrison government’s latest $66 billion economic stimulus package includes support for thousands of NFPs that employ people and have a turnover of up to $50 million a year, with a minimum payment of $20,000.
It comes after the sector was excluded from the first round of stimulus measures announced more than a week ago.
Community Council for Australia (CCA) CEO David Crosbie told Pro Bono News he was delighted by the announcement, but admitted charities were still in the fight of their lives to stay afloat.
“The measures will not save all charities, and are not all we might have asked for, but they will help some charities hold on to staff and survive a little longer,” Crosbie said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a devastating impact on the sector, with many organisations facing funding cuts, job losses and fundraising shortages in coming months.
CCA is calling for governments to guarantee there will be no funding cuts for the next 12 months, and said government-funded charities must be released from their narrow contractual obligations if they are unable to deliver services.
The Australian Council of Social Service also welcomed the support for the sector but said greater relief was needed.
CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said a community sector rescue package should be delivered, which includes a continuity of service fund with guaranteed paid special leave for all workers.
“Community services are trying to respond to extraordinary community needs, with people in dire distress, many worried about needing to be isolated, very vulnerable, and in need,” Goldie said.
“With an 80 per cent female workforce, community services will continue to be caring for so many in the community, and caring is what is needed. Government needs to provide the right supports.”
Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies said the inclusion of charities in the stimulus package was a positive step forward and would help NFPs feeling the economic impact of both COVID-19 and the recent bushfire crisis.
She said the announcement recognised the fundamental role that charities play in supporting Australian communities, not just during times of crisis, but every day.
“The provision of economic support for charities will allow the sector to continue to support the most vulnerable members of our community during these unprecedented times,” Davies said.
“With more than a million employees working across the charitable sector in Australia, these measures will also provide much needed employment and income support for workers and their families.”