UnitingCare Australia has long advocated for taxation policy which maximises the capacity of not-for-profit (NFP) community and social service providers to fulfil their role of delivering sustainable support and leveraging non-government sources of funding. This has been the focus of our contributions to the 2008 Henry Tax Review, 2009 Treasury Tax Form, 2010 Productivity Commission Study into the Contribution of the Not-for-Profit Sector, 2011 Tax Forum and the Government’s wider NFP reform agenda.

The Australian Energy Market Commission (AEMC) makes and amends the rules about how the electricity market operates. In considering changes to rules, the AEMC looks at how well it will contribute to the National Electricity Objective, that is “to promote efficient investment in, and efficient operation and use of, electricity services for the long-term interests of consumers of electricity with respect to:
(a) price, quality, safety, reliability, and security of supply of electricity; and
(b) the reliability, safety and security of the national electricity system.”

UnitingCare Australia is pleased to have been given the opportunity to comment on the above issues. The adverse impact on low and middle income consumers of price increases for standing energy are becoming more and more apparent to our agencies, through contact with our clients.

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Bill 2012 (ACNC Bill) and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Bill 2012 create the platform for reforms that the Not-for-profit (NFP) sector has long called for and which have the potential to benefit Governments, the NFP sector and the Australian community as a whole. For the first time, these Bills offer a legislative vehicle which acknowledges the important contribution the NFP sector makes to the social and economic fabric of our society. It rightly places an obligation of accountability on the sector to reflect the interests of those who support the sector through the donation of their time and money and the communities it serves.

This submission is premised on the view that all Australians have a right to live a decent life, which we define as being able to access appropriate food, clothing and healthcare; safe and secure housing; meaningful work, education, rest and enjoyment; and the opportunity to participate in and contribute to communities. Policy and programs should be based on the principles that all people have:
 Intrinsic value; and physical, spiritual, and social needs
 A just claim to be heard, either directly or through those who are close to them and understand their strengths and hopes
 The right to participate in community as fully as they wish and are able and
 The right to opportunities that will enhance their life chances and quality of life

In November 2011 UnitingCare Australia presented our criteria for evaluation of aged care reform:
 Equity of aged care outcomes regardless of personal wealth or complexity of needs
 Improved access to and supply of services when and where they are needed, and at an affordable price
 Improved choice of service options and how these are provided; and
 Sustainability of services, including access to capital, so they can grow and improve in response to needs and expectations.

UnitingCare Australia is the Uniting Church’s national body supporting community services and advocacy for children, young people, families, people with disabilities and older people. The Uniting Church’s commitment to community services is an expression of the Christian vision of inclusion and equality of opportunity for all people and communities regardless of age, gender, sexuality, ability, class, colour, creed or cultural origin.

The White Paper should recognise and describe energy as an essential service.

UnitingCare Australia takes up community service issues within the theological framework of the Uniting Church, particularly the Church’s social justice perspectives. We develop and reflect on the policies and practices of the Uniting Church in community services. We pursue appropriate issues within the Uniting Church, with Government and the community sector, with the Australian community and with other parts of the church.

The current meaning of charity and charitable purpose is largely defined at common law, which has developed over 400 years. It has generally served the community well however a number of reviews and inquiries over the years have recommended that the common law meaning of charity be restated in legislation.