In the last few years there have been significant developments which will strengthen our sector’s ability to provide support and assistance to vulnerable and disadvantaged people. These include the pay equity case and the government funding of the outcomes of that case, as well as legislation at both state and federal level to establish a national regulator and to protect NGO advocacy. However, there remain key issues which need to be addressed to make it easier for our sector to do its vital work.
The First Step
The first and simplest step is to pass the proposed Statutes Amendment (Commonwealth Registered Entities) Bill 2013 which would remove the duplication of reporting to state and federal governments. The Bill has been drafted, has support of the sector, and needs to be passed prior to 30 June 2014 to stop another round of unnecessary state government reporting for charities.
Better Contracting and Red Tape Reduction
Beyond that, the key to red tape reduction is addressing the contracting system which is onerous, piecemeal and short-sighted, and hinders cooperation and innovation in the sector.
SACOSS, in consultation with a range of other sector organisations, has produced a set of 20 recommendations for reducing red tape and making service contracting more efficient for both government and the sector. The list is headed by the need to address the short-term nature of much funding of services to give certainty to community service organisations, staff and clients who rely on those services. The model proposed is for three year contracts with two automatic renewals (without competitive tender) – provided that the organisation is delivering the service according to the contract and the social need is still present. This should be the default contracting arrangement and shorter term contracts should only be used where a service will only be needed for a finite time.
In the 2014 State Election, we seek commitment from all parties to mandate 3 + 3 + 3 years as the default funding model for all programs addressing long term needs and to implement at least 50% of SACOSS’ Better Contracting and Red Tape Reduction plan in the first term of government.
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