Labor promises charities a national blueprint
22 April 2022 at 4:53 pm
The move has been broadly welcomed by many in the sector who say the announcement recognises the essential role that charities play in supporting Australians in need.
The Labor party has pledged to develop a sector-wide blueprint that will boost the charity sector’s capacity to support and reconnect communities should it be elected.
Under the plan, announced on Friday, the ALP would establish a Not-for-profit Sector Expert Reference Panel to work with Treasury, business, philanthropy, volunteering and other key stakeholders, to produce a sector development plan.
This panel would be supported by an ongoing Building Community – Building Capacity’ Working Group, which will also “help steward the charity and community sector in its role as frontline responders in building a reconnected Australia”.
In making the announcement, shadow assistant minister for charities Dr Andrew Leigh MP said charities were the first line of support for the most vulnerable in our communities.
He also highlighted the sector’s contribution to the economy.
“Australia’s charity and non-profit sector is eight per cent of the economy, 10 per cent of the workforce, and mobilises three million volunteers,” he said.
“The future of the charity sector is too important to our economy and our communities to grow and develop without planning or strategic investment.”
Leigh also pointed to the importance of community resilience.
He said a crisis summer, followed by two years of lockdowns and social disruption had shown how valuable it is to build resilient communities with flexible networks for social connections and shared experience.
“The social impacts of loneliness and social disconnection are becoming better understood and a higher priority for government. The working group will work to measure the impact of isolation and the efficacy of solutions to social fragmentation,” he said.
“Drawing on trials, research and consultation, the working group will identify effective ways to amplify the community sector’s role addressing isolation and building community.”
The move has been welcomed by many in the sector.
David Crosbie, CEO of the Community Council for Australia, said the CCA had been highlighting the need for reform and capacity building since the Productivity Commission report into the sector over a decade ago.
“There is currently little if any planning for the future of the charities and NFP sector in Australia,” Crosbie told Pro Bono News.
“It is good to see this proposal from the ALP to not only engage with the sector, but to actively plan for future capacity and productivity, and also to focus on strengthening community connectedness.
“These consultation, policy development and community building measures have the potential to not only enhance the work of all NFPs, but to build resilience and increase the capacity of communities to adapt to climate change.”
He said the critical issue in this measure will be the capacity of the two new groups to work across government, business and the community sector.
St Vincent de Paul Society National President Claire Victory said while further details were needed, they welcomed Labor’s commitment to create a national blueprint for the sector.
“Today’s announcement recognises the essential role that charities play in supporting Australians in need and our significant contribution to the broader economy,” Victory said.
“The best outcomes, as always, are achieved when governments partner with the not-for-profit sector to co-design policies and programs that align with the most urgent needs of the community and make the best use of charities’ resources.”
Victory called on all parties and candidates to match the announcement and to put support for Australia’s most vulnerable “at the heart of their election commitments”.
Minister Sukkar did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.