Unitingcare Australia welcomes government’s move to ban gag clause
UnitingCare Australia said the independence of Australia’s not for profit sector will strengthen as the Federal Government moved to ban gag clauses in Commonwealth contracts with the sector.
Speaking shortly after the Federal Government’s landmark announcement today, National Director, Lin Hatfield Dodds said the current arrangements shackle the sector’s capacity to speak out on issues that affect some of the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
People working at the coalface in the community sector are best placed to provide advice on what works in local communities,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
“As governments rightly contribute to the funding of these services, the community sector must be free to contribute to policy development and advocacy without fear of losing that funding,” she said.
“We’ve been calling for the independence of the sector to be enshrined in legislation since the inception of the work on the Australian Charities and Not for profit Commission.
“The community sector and church organisations in particular, have led the way in Australia providing essential services including welfare, health and education. They responded with compassion 150 years ago and continue to indentify and respond to needs in local communities, right around the country.
“We are not government and we are not the business sector. The not-for-profit sector is made up of independent organisations and our autonomy must be respected as we continue to work, often in partnership with government, to meet the needs of vulnerable Australians and local communities.
“Today’s decision goes some way to re-establishing the balance that signifies a maturing of the relationship between the Government and the community sector.
“We look forward to working with the Government on reducing the crippling compliance measures still in place that demand so much of our time and other scarce resources,” Ms Hatfield Dodds said.
The UnitingCare network provides social services to over 2 million people each year in 1,300 sites in remote, rural and metropolitan Australia. UnitingCare employs 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers.
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