New legislation next step for not for profit reform

New legislation next step for not for profit reform

UnitingCare Australia celebrated as the Federal Government strengthened its commitment to a genuine partnership with the not for profit sector through legislation to be introduced when Parliament sits again in March.

Speaking shortly after the announcement in Brisbane on March 4, National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds, said the Not For Profit Sector Freedom to Advocate Bill would ensure those organisations working at the coalface with some of the most vulnerable people in Australia could contribute to and influence public policy debate without fear of compromising funding arrangements and other measures.

“The Federal Government’s National Compact, which was announced five years ago, committed to working in genuine partnership with the not for profit sector,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“The legislation announced today acknowledges the vital role of community sector organisations like UnitingCare — not just in the provision of vital services — but also in the development and implementation of measures that determine economic and social policy priorities. It recognises the importance of an independent sector and provides the foundation for strong community engagement in policy development.

“Gag clauses have been banned in all Commonwealth contracts. Historically organisations were prevented from engaging in public debate on issues central to their mission and services delivery.

“The Not For Profit Sector Freedom to Bill is a positive move and we call on the States and Territories to implement similar legislation.

“UnitingCare Australia has led strong action to safeguard the ongoing sustainability of the services we provide to the most vulnerable people in Australia. We have consistently called for measures to strengthen the community sector and to ensure its ongoing viability,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“Tackling the unnecessary red-tape associated with government funding arrangements will enable us to divert scarce resources to the people who need them. The Government’s decision to  legislate its commitment to funding its share of the historic equal pay claim for people working in the sector, and including a specific red-tape object in the legislation governing the Australian Not For Profit Commission are critical to the viability of the sector,” said Joe Zabar UnitingCare Australia’s Director of Services.

“Today’s announcements will benefit community services and other vital organisations in the not for profit sector,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

“Reform is a long road and ongoing work will be needed to ensure better relationships across all levels of government — from Federal, to the States and Territories and to local governments — all of whom have a role to play in the suite of vital services needed to ensure a strong communities,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.

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