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The six changes charities want to support communities in lockdown


28 July 2021 at 5:21 pm
Maggie Coggan
“Hopefully, governments will respond positively, and charities will be able to enhance our efforts to keep Australians safe and build stronger communities.”    


Maggie Coggan | 28 July 2021 at 5:21 pm


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The six changes charities want to support communities in lockdown
28 July 2021 at 5:21 pm

“Hopefully, governments will respond positively, and charities will be able to enhance our efforts to keep Australians safe and build stronger communities.”    

An open letter calling for changes to help charities better support vulnerable communities during lockdown has been delivered to the prime minister, with charity leaders saying the sector has once again been left out of the government’s COVID-response. 

The letter, written by the Charities Crisis Cabinet (CCC), said that despite the critical role charities play in supporting and rebuilding both communities and the economy during disasters, little support had been provided to the sector to respond to the needs of communities in lockdown. 

“Charities large and small are a critical part of Australia’s economic and social infrastructure, especially in times of emergency or crisis,” the letter said. 

“As you frame policies in critical areas including vaccine roll out and beyond, charities are keen and ready to be included in policy discussions and to contribute to the development and design of new initiatives.”

The letter outlined six issues the government could “quickly and effectively” address to prioritise the needs of communities facing lockdowns across Australia. These included removing restrictions on which charities can offer food relief to Commonwealth funded agencies; recognising the need for volunteers to be quickly vaccinated; and removing visa restrictions on international students working for the charities sector.

It also called for a version of the Coronavirus Supplement for lockdown communities who are currently excluded from disaster relief payments; more support for charities that help people without a good internet connection access online services like vaccine bookings and homeschooling; and greater flexibility for charities in how obligations around tasks such as fundraising are fulfilled. 

Tim Costello, the CCC co-chair, said that the requested policy changes laid out in this latest letter would enable charities to do their job and get the country back on track. 

“I think all charities want to work positively with governments across Australia, especially as we face the challenges of an ongoing pandemic,” Costello said. 

“Hopefully, governments will respond positively, and charities will be able to enhance our efforts to keep Australians safe and build stronger communities.”    

The CCC was formed in April last year, uniting key players from across the sector to devise an action plan for COVID. At the time they identified a number of gaps in government pandemic support packages.

Members include CEOs from the Community Council Australia (CCA), Volunteering Australia, Pro Bono Australia, Philanthropy Australia, the Smith Family, Save the Children, OzHarvest, Australian Settlement Service International, and the World Wide Fund for Nature.  

But David Crosbie, the CEO CCA and secretary of the CCC, said after 18 months charities were still struggling to be heard.   

“As the CCC collected feedback [recently] from charities and others, it started to feel like we were back in the early stages of the pandemic in 2020,” Crosbie told Pro Bono News.   

“It seemed the key lessons about the need to consider volunteers and charities in COVID-19 policy responses had not been heeded, and many charities were again having to prosecute the same arguments over and over again.” 

See a full copy of the letter here.


Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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