ANDREW LEIGH MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR CHARITIES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
SENATOR CATRYNA BILYK
SENATOR FOR TASMANIA
AUSTRALIA’S CHARITIES NEED SUPPORT, NOT SILENCE
Charities across Australia are struggling with increasing demand and dwindling resources as they step up to help people falling through the gaps left by the Morrison Government.
Since the spread of coronavirus started, demand for charities’ help has skyrocketing. Earlier this year, Foodbank reported that demand was up 78 per cent, yet their supplies of donated food had shrunk by 27 per cent. The Salvation Army has seen increased demand, but its Red Shield Appeal has raised less than half of its $8 million target.
These experiences were echoed by Tasmanian charities and not-for-profits which took part in a forum today, hosted by Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities Andrew Leigh and Senator Catryna Bilyk, exploring the impacts of the spread of coronavirus on the sector.
One charity told the forum that their workload had increased by nearly 200 per cent since the start of the year, but their funding hadn’t kept pace with the growing demand. Some charities have zero fundraising.
Other attendees spoke on the difficulty of maintaining their volunteer bases as both social distancing and the recession started to bite. 90 per cent of Tasmanian organisations had stood down volunteers. Many volunteers haven’t returned.
Speaking on the rolling crises of the summer bushfires and the spread of coronavirus, one charity representative said:
“It has exposed our need as a community and a society for volunteers. Whenever the chips are down, it’s volunteers that people turn to and it’s volunteering that bring people together”.
But despite these stories from the charitable sector - which accounts for a tenth of the national workforce at 1.3 million workers – the Morrison Government has turned a deaf ear to their calls for better support.
Charities and their volunteers should be recognised for their significant contribution to not only Australian society, but the Australian economy as well. Yet there were no new initiatives in the federal budget to help ease the burden on the sector.
The Morrison Government needs to acknowledge the not-for-profit sector, not ignore it. Charities deserve support, not silence.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.