In representing the non-government health and community services sector, SACOSS advocates for changes in sector regulation to strengthen the sector and ensure that organisations can focus on their mission and not be tied up in unnecessary reporting and surveillance. Our advocacy around the Funding Guidelines was one example of this, but in 2021 we are focusing on two key issues.
Portable long service leave
In a sector characterised by short-term government and philanthropic funding, many staff are employed casually or on fixed-term contracts and move between employers as different organisations win or lose grants and service tenders. This constant changing of employments means that these valued workers, despite working continuously for many years in the sector, may never become entitled to long service leave because the time of their "continuous service" restarts with each new employer. This long service leave model is inappropriate for our sector. We need a system of portable long service leave to allow staff to accumulate long service leave based on their service in the sector, not just with a single employer. For further information, download the Portable Long Service Leave Policy Brief.
It is part of the mission statement of many charities in the social welfare sector that they should address the causes of poverty alongside providing services to those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. Thus, a charity working with homeless people may advocate for provision of public housing or a charity working with gambling addicts may advocate for tighter harm prevention measures. They do this as a matter of course, in a non-partisan manner and regardless of the political cycle. However, South Australian electoral disclosure laws mean that if these issues become “issues in the election” [and poverty should always be an issue in elections!] those charities become Third Parties under the Electoral Act and are therefore required to do extensive disclosure of spending and donations - even where the donations have nothing do with the so-called election issue. This could discourage donations and creates a huge and unnecessary compliance cost. While disclosure and transparency is important in elections, charities are already regulated with transparency in management and finances under federal legislation, so the extra layer of state electoral compliance is redundant and onerous.