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Labor issues promise to work in partnership with the community sector

16 March 2022 at 5:14 pm
Wendy Williams
The federal opposition has outlined its proposed community sector policies, in a move welcomed by the sector.

Wendy Williams | 16 March 2022 at 5:14 pm


Labor issues promise to work in partnership with the community sector
16 March 2022 at 5:14 pm

The federal opposition has outlined its proposed community sector policies, in a move welcomed by the sector.

The Labor party has pledged to support a stronger, more diverse and more independent community sector, should it be elected. 

In a joint announcement from Linda Burney MP, Senator Jenny Mcallister, Andrew Leigh MP and Susan Templeman MP on Tuesday, the federal opposition outlined its proposed community sector policies.

In particular the party promised to improve governance and regulation across the sector, and there was special mention of the sector’s role in advocacy.

“We will end the Coalition’s attacks on the community sector, by scrapping gag clauses and restoring the freedom to advocate,” the group said in a media release.

“Grants will reflect the real cost of delivering quality services, ending the practice of competing on wages. Contract terms will be longer so that organisations can plan for the future, workers have certainty, and services can become part of the community they serve.

“We will also ensure grant funding flows to a greater diversity of not for profits, with a renewed priority of partnering with trusted community organisations with strong local links.”

The announcement comes after a set of policies to work better with civil society were also included in the ALP National Platform, which was adopted at the ALP National Conference in April last year.

Leigh, shadow assistant minister for charities, told Pro Bono News that charities were  fundamental to a healthy democracy.

“Our announcement today reflects Labor’s strong view that there would never be gag clauses enforced under an Albanese government and that charitable advocacy would get the recognition it deserves,” he said.

“Strong governments aren’t afraid of charities speaking out, whether they are speaking out for the environment or for the most vulnerable Australians, we want those voices to be heard and we think that is an absolutely appropriate role for charities.”

He said it was important to recognise that Australia is facing real challenges in the community sector, pointing to the decline in volunteering rates, in the number of Australians involved with organisations and in the number of Australians who know their neighbours. 

“So there is a real challenge in building community and a Labor government would seek to do that in partnership with the community sector,” Leigh said.

“We need to be a country in which there is a genuine sense of partnership between the charity and not for profit sector and the federal government, as we set about tackling major challenges like climate change and inequality.”

Many in the sector have welcomed the announcement with its emphasis on fostering a culture of partnership between government and the community sector. 

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said the principles framework announced by the ALP was a positive step towards improved governance, regulation and collaboration, and she urged a bipartisan approach to working with the sector. 

“Over the past three years every person living in Australia has been affected by bushfires, floods, COVID-19 or some combination of all these disasters. Community organisations have been absolutely critical in helping hundreds of thousands of people to survive and cope during this time,” Goldie said. 

“It’s vital that the next federal government, whoever they may be, better tap into the service expertise and policy knowledge in the sector to help Australia move into a period of recovery and stability.”  

ACOSS is seeking commitments from all major parties in the lead up to the next federal election to support an open and transparent partnership with the community sector.  

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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