There is a crisis of uncertainty in the charity and not-for-profit sector in Australia. It is being instigated by the Abbott federal government. This government should be publicly shamed for the gross mismanagement of how they are dealing with the funding supplied to the groups who support the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in our community.
Hundreds of millions of dollars of government programs and services are under review in areas such as health, welfare, child support, youth, housing, employment and volunteering. Most organisations delivering these services have no idea what funds, if any, will be available after June this year.
This government is operating with a total lack of community consultation and transparency around how and what decisions are being made. Charities are reporting that staff are now looking for employment elsewhere as the uncertainty grows. What choice do they have?
The Community Council for Australia (the not-for-profit peak body) has called on the federal government to end this crisis of uncertainty. This sector employs over one million Australians and turns over close to $100 billion. Such uncertainty is not good governance. It is shameful and disrespectful to those who assist the most needy. Even the car industry is giving its workers five years notice!
We should demand better from our federal government. They are responsible for ensuring adequate funding to organisations so that we have a viable social net to support the most needy and vulnerable. Without such a social net Australia will become a more violent and scary place as those denied support scramble to survive.
If funds do dry up at the end of June this will mean many community services in the Byron Shire will struggle to survive and will be faced with the decision to close their doors. The charity queues will not disappear they will grow longer. Be ready to put your hands into your pockets because if the federal government turns it back on the poor and needy someone is going to have to pay the price.
Paul Spooner, Byron Shire councillor