There are range of key themes and recommendations contained in this submission which we consider important in the overall scope of this study. One of the key challenges for the Productivity Commission (Commission) will be to place an appropriate value on a sector which is large and extremely diverse. We recommend that any assessment acknowledge both the direct and indirect contributions of the sector.
The community services sector works within a regulatory environment which is often complex, fragmented and resource intense. It requires not-for-profit entities to navigate and comply with a plethora of regulations from all levels government with differing reporting requirements. UnitingCare Australia believes that a national regulator could make a positive improvement to the current regulatory environment if it were to be set up under the following principles:
• The regulator should be an independent agency;
• The regulator should have an educative/ sector support priority, especially during the early years of its operations;
• The financial and operational information required by the regulator should be accepted by other Government agencies (report once use often principle);
• The financial and operational information required by the regulator should be tiered and proportional; and
• The registration of a charity by a national regulator should be recognised across all other jurisdictions for the purpose of any applicable concessions.
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.
UnitingCare Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s commitment today to reduce unnecessary and redundant paperwork for the not for profit sector.
UnitingCare Australia’s National Director Lin Hatfield Dodds said some of Australia’s lowest paid workers can now look forward to equitable wages for the essential work they do.
UnitingCare Australia has welcomed the passage of legislation in the Federal Parliament today that will establish the historic Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
This submission provides our assessment of the Exposure draft of the Charities Bill 2013 and associated Bills, building on the comments we made in our December 2011 submission to the consultation on ‘A Definition of Charity’.
We believe that the Exposure draft of the Charities Bill 2013 and associated Bills, while sound in structure and purpose, needs to be amended so as to provide greater clarity and certainty in the following key areas: the disqualifying purpose; application of the presumption of public benefit; and the treatment of “infrastructure” entities which support charities in fulfilling their purpose and mission.
UnitingCare Australia believes that the charitable community services sector is an important partner for government and other sectors in the delivery of services and support to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged members of our society. Many policy and legislative decisions, although not specifically targeted at our sector, impact on the Commonwealth’s relationship with us.