This election, ComVoices highlights three things that would make a difference for NGO service providers. Talk to your local candidates about them.
ComVoices speaks for non-profit services working to support people and build strong, healthy communities. Go here for their one-page summary paper Election Issues 2017.
Our recent survey, State of the Sector, shows that demand for these services continues to grow and needs are more complex, yet government funding remains largely static.
Many families are struggling to meet basic needs while the services designed to support them are also in a precarious financial situation. Communities are no longer places where everybody can participate and thrive.
There are three things that would make a difference.
1. Fair funding
Non-profit organisations that provide government services have gone for years without any increase in funding. Almost half are using their reserves to keep afloat. This is unsustainable.
Investment in skilled staff, service development and evaluation is fundamental to achieving the best results. Community-based services would benefit from a funding model that:
• Reflects cost of living increases and wage movements
• Reduces compliance and transaction costs.
2. Making it easier to work with government
Community providers often contract with several government agencies, each with its own contracting, accountability and reporting requirements. It is taking up time, money and energy that would be better spent on providing services. Let’s make the processes more efficient and effective:
• Streamline contracts using a common set of procurement tools and guidelines.
• Harness community expertise in the design and delivery of local services.
• Formal recognition of the NGOs’ advocacy role.
3. Properly managed data
Community-based service providers were shaken at the news that clients’ personal data must be collected and shared in return for funding. This is a deterrent to helpseeking, and a threat to established ethical and confidentiality considerations.
The importance of reliable information for good service delivery is well understood. Data is an important tool, but without careful well-researched and well-understood controls over its purpose, storage and use, it has the potential to seriously undermine the value and reach of community services. For these reasons:
• Service providers need to be fully involved in decisions around data collection, sharing, storage and use, with sector-wide consultation around planned initiatives.
• The recommendations in the report of the Privacy Commissioner on ICLD are fundamental to the collection, sharing, storage and use of data.