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The NSW Council of Social Service made this submission to the ClubGRANTS review on 18 March 2024.

NCOSS welcomes the New South Wales Government’s review of the ClubGRANTS Scheme (the Scheme) as part of its broader commitment to restoring integrity and public trust in government grants.

NCOSS has outlined detailed recommendations in response to the NSW Government review’s Terms of Reference and discussion questions. Underpinning these recommendations are three core principles that must shape the overhaul of the Scheme:

1. Effective governance that enables community trust

The lack of transparency, accountability and inherent conflicts of interest have undermined community trust in the Scheme. Significant reform is needed to set up a clear governance framework that addresses this. This would include design principles and operational processes that support the effective management of real and perceived conflicts of interest. This governance framework must include regular, independent and publicly available evaluation of the scheme.

2. A clear focus on those most in need

The Scheme must rebalance its investment towards the people who are most in need. The eligibility criteria and total funding pool should be weighted toward projects and services that contribute to the welfare of low income and disadvantaged communities and support the broader social fabric of the local community. This should include a greater focus on the minimisation of gambling harm.

3. Local community control

There is significant public benefit in a locally administered small grants scheme, where decisions are made with local input in a relatively short timeframe. Most grants in the Scheme to community organisations are relatively small, amounting to a few thousand dollars. However, these grants make a real difference to the services those organisations can provide to people in need, able to respond to emerging local needs. The concept of a small grants scheme where decisions are made locally, based on known local need, is the key strength of the Scheme and worth preserving.

Should these principles be adopted in comprehensively overhauling the Scheme, NCOSS would welcome the opportunity to play a formal role once again through the Local Committee process with adequate resourcing.

The review of the ClubGRANTS scheme provides the NSW Government with an important opportunity to address the long-standing challenges of the scheme and replace it with a more equitable, locally administered program that supports harm minimisation and directs gaming machine profits back into communities from which they were derived.

Read the full submission here: ClubGRANTS Review - NCOSS Submission - 18 March 2024 (PDF)