ALP pledges support for 10-point plan to strengthen the charities sector
1 April 2021 at 8:30 am
Labor says it will work closely with the sector to reimagine a new Australia
Charity leaders say a plan endorsed by the Australian Labor Party to strengthen the charities sector is a “game changer”, with the party promising to make significant changes across fundraising, volunteering, and political advocacy if it wins the next election.
Labor party members endorsed a 10-point plan during the ALP national conference 2021 on Tuesday, including establishing an expert body that will ensure views of civil society are reflected in policy reform, creating a modern and standardised national fundraising framework, and ensuring charities are free to advocate on behalf of their cause without fear of being deregistered.
This comes amid concerns among charity leaders in recent months that a move to increase the powers of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) commissioner would stifle the sector’s ability to publicly criticise government policy.
Other objectives included ensuring frontline volunteers be given access to workplace safety needs such as COVID-19 vaccinations and protective equipment, supporting the NFP sector in bridging the technological divide, and reviewing the recommendations of the 2010 Productivity Commission Report on the Not for Proﬁt Sector.
The objectives were developed with the Charities Crisis Cabinet, and delivered to delegates at the conference by Ursula Stephens, a former Labor senator and the current CEO of Catholic Services Australia.
In a speech at the conference, Stephens said that civil society organisations were the “glue that holds together government, the economy and community,” and it was critical they were supported by government.
“Labor is committed to working closely with civil society organisations as we recover from the pandemic and reimagine a new Australia,” Stephens said.
“We will acknowledge, support, and engage with the expertise held within civil society.”
She told Pro Bono News that in recent years, it had been difficult for the charitable sector to really get a seat at the table, and that the plan was a way of re-establishing a “genuine, respectful, relationship” between the sector and government.
“This acknowledges the importance of community organisations and acknowledges that if the community sector is being asked to deliver services on behalf of governments they should be adequately funded,” she said.
David Crosbie, the CEO of Community Council Australia, told Pro Bono News this commitment was a “game changer”.
“The measures outlined in their 10 point plan are all measures CCA has actively supported and advocated for,” Crosbie said.
“This new ALP set of policies for the sector will make the next election more interesting, with the current government now needing to show it is also committed to strengthening the sector as part of its core policy agenda.”
A spokesperson for Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, the minister responsible for the charities commission, told Pro Bono News that the Morrison government was continuing to
implement a response to the important recommendations of the ACNC Legislation Review and reforms to the administration and oversight of Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) organisations.
“These reforms will result in a better balance between reducing red tape for charities, while ensuring the generous Australians who give their time and money can have trust and confidence in the governance of the charities they support,” the spokesperson said.
“We will also continue to work with the states and territories, through the Council on Federal Financial Relations, to reduce the administrative and financial burdens on charities.”