Here in NSW, there are more than 1,500 not for profit community sector organisations, delivering services to the most disadvantaged people in our community.
We are one of the largest employers in the State and the major employer in many regional communities, with a high level of volunteer involvement.
We are a strong, vibrant, effective sector that makes a real difference to our State, and to the communities and people we work with.
The Fair Deal for our Community Services campaign outlines a set of recommendations the Government can adopt to build a stronger partnership between government and our sector and to develop fair and reasonable reform and procurement processes. They are the result of consultation around the state with NCOSS members and stakeholders.
The recommendations are:
1. Reform and Change:
That the NSW Government commit that future reform and change processes will:
- Be co-designed with the sector, and implemented and evaluated in partnership,
- Respect the local knowledge of place based community organisations and the community connections that Aboriginal, CALD, LGBTI and other specialist services have,
- Promote the self determination of Aboriginal peoples and communities,
- Have clear objectives, rationale and timeframes, and
- Learn the lessons of past processes and plan to avoid repeating their mistakes.
2. Policy, Program and Project Design
That the NSW Government commit to a policy development process that ensures policies and programs:
- Are shaped in partnership with the people, communities and organisations they affect,
- Are based on the evidence about what works, and taking advantage of the knowledge that exists in the people, communities and organisations that the policies will affect,
- Are created with the knowledge of how they impact other policies and service systems,
- Respect the human rights of all peoples and address discrimination and disadvantage, and
- Are created with a view to the long term.
3. Procurement and Commissioning
That the NSW Government work with our sector to develop a whole-of-government procurement framework that ensures NGO procurement:
- Is ethical and transparent, and ensures the best equipped provider is successful,
- Builds in sufficient time to get the best out of all applicants,
- Is consistent across all government agencies,
- Delivers long term certainty for our sector through longer contracts,
- Includes sufficient resources to cover the full cost of service delivery, and
- Promotes relationships of collaboration rather than competition.
That the NSW Government negotiate with the sector to develop a new, standardised NGO contract with NGOs that is based on the principles outlined in the Whitlam Institute’s paper A Question of Balance, and is:
- Fair and proportionate to the risk and size of the contract,
- Balances accountability and compliance costs, and
- Respects the right and responsibility of NGOs to advocate for the rights and interests of the people and communities they work with.
5. Red tape, compliance and regulation
That the NSW Government undertake a review of the compliance burden experienced by our sector that delivers:
- A new, standardised contract with NGOs that is based on the principles outlined in the Whitlam Institute’s paper A Question of Balance,
- Streamlining of accreditation requirements across government agencies,
- Alignment of reporting requirements within and across government agencies,
- Removal of the requirement for financial acquittals for outputs/outcomes based contracts, and
- Incorporation of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission’s (ACNC) Charity Passport and ‘Report once, use often’ framework into the reporting frameworks of government agencies.
6. Communication and Engagement
That the NSW Government commit to improving its communication with our sector by implementing the recommendations made here via a whole of government framework, compact or strategy.