Charities want more political engagement – but advocacy fears loom
2 May 2022 at 5:25 pm
Pro Bono News shares the results from our reader election poll
Nearly all charities and not for profits say they want their issues on the agenda for the next Australian government, but less than half are planning an election strategy, according to a new poll.
Pro Bono News’ election poll found 94 per cent of charities and not for profits agreed or strongly agreed that they want candidates and parliamentarians to engage with their issues, with a similar number wanting their issues on the agenda.
However, less than half of respondents (43 per cent) said they were planning an election strategy to advance their mission and policy issues as the next Australian government is elected and takes office – and a further 30 per cent were unsure.
Around half (53 per cent) said they had engaged with parliamentarians and local candidates in the lead up to the election – but only 27 per cent of respondents felt their suggestions were valued and had been listened to.
Just 17 per cent agreed or strongly agreed with the statement: “The current government has worked well with our sector”.
The poll, which received 264 responses from small, medium and large charities and not for profits from across Australia, also highlighted concerns around advocacy.
Nearly two thirds of respondents (60 per cent) agreed or strongly agreed that they were concerned there were restrictions affecting their capacity to advocate during the upcoming federal election.
More than half (53 per cent) said they were concerned about the risks of advocating in the lead up to an election, while 73 per cent said their capacity to advocate was limited by resource constraints.
Pro Bono News’ election poll was launched to understand the role of charities in the lead up to the next federal election.
Among the changes the sector would like to see from the next federal government were: action on climate crisis; aged care reform including pay rises for aged care workers; support for volunteers during and after disaster; more social housing; a national housing and homelessness policy; funding for the NDIS; a higher intake of refugees; less red tape; and recognition of the valuable work the sector delivers.
Most organisations (62 per cent) agreed or strongly agreed that they have a good understanding of what the major parties and high profile independents think about the issues they want advanced.
However answers to the question, “To what extent do you think the voting public understands and supports the change you seek?” were mixed. Many charities felt the voting public had a very limited understanding, while others suggested the public understood, but it was not a high priority for them.
Suggestions on what would enable the sector to work better with the government included: access and resources; if the relevant ministers had an open door policy; community roundtables in every electorate with diverse participants; better interagency communication and collaboration; more transparency; less onerous reporting; and longer term funding agreements.