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Community Sector services call on Federal and State and Territory governments to address key roadblocks that restrict their ability to effectively help many people experiencing poverty and hardship.

New research conducted for ACOSS and the COSS Network by the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney pulls together the experience of a range of community sector service providers and peak organisations to reveal that most community organisations providing government funded services struggle with severely inadequate funding and insecure contracts that result in lack of employment security for their staff and uncertainty of service provision for people experiencing hardship.

The report Valuing Australia’s community sector: Better contracting for capacity, sustainability and impact provides recommendations to improve the capacity of community organisations to do their important work.

ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said:

“The most important change governments can make that will provide job security for frontline workers and certainty for people needing services is longer contracts and funding agreements that cover the full cost of providing the service.

“Service providers reported their intense frustration that one or two year service contracts, and delays in contract renewals meant they had to reduce staffing and stop much needed services.

“This could be solved by providing at least 5 year contracts and funding certainty, instead of keeping service providers on tenterhooks about whether their funding would continue.

“Service providers also want more notice of changes to funding so they can prepare staff and clients if they need to close a service or transition it to another provider.

“With so many communities impacted by fire, floods and the pandemic, we’re also seeking more flexibility for services in communities impacted by natural disasters. They need to be able to redirect funding to meet agreed alternative services.

“We want to see the design and management of government programs place the people and communities who use them at the centre of their design and delivery.

“We also identified a need for governments to support sector diversity by providing funding to small, medium and large organisations working to address poverty, disadvantage and marginalisation. Small organisations currently face challenges applying for funds, succeeding in competitive processes, and engaging in complex contractual and reporting environments.

“Most importantly, we call for the removal of restrictions on using government funds for advocacy or law reform in funding contracts. We are strongly opposed to the current attempts to put in place additional regulations that could lead to further threats to the advocacy capacity of community organisations.”

The report was supported through a partnership with Bendigo Bank, whose commitment to strong communities has seen over $251 million invested in local communities since 1998.

 

Read the report at: https://www.acoss.org.au/australian-community-sector-survey/