Speech by Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens

National Compact and funding for the Third Sector – Temporary Financial Assistance Recipient Reception, Perth

Location: Youth Focus, Perth

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Thank you very much for coming along today at short notice and a special thank you to Youth Focus for hosting today’s gathering.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of this land, the Noongar people. We respect their spiritual relationship with their country, and their cultural and heritage beliefs.

From my tour around Youth Focus this afternoon I can recognise that a great deal of good goes on in this place.

The work of Youth Focus in building resilience and emotional wellbeing in our young people is therefore a vital investment. And even more so during difficult economic times, when we know that children too feel the tensions caused by family financial difficulties.

And this important work in supporting people through the rough times is why we’re all here today.

The Australian Government knows that some non profit organisations are doing it tough at the moment. Demand for your services has risen at the same time as financial resources are dwindling.

The Australian Government wants to ensure that you are able to continue your service to others in these difficult economic times, so that together we can emerge a stronger, national community ready for all that the future has to hold.

And that’s why the Australian Government has supported organisations through the Temporary Financial Assistance grants that some of you here today have received.

We are also supporting the sector in a number of other ways.

For example, we also have with us today organisations that received funding under the Australian Government’s Innovation Fund.

The Fund supports projects that foster innovative solutions to overcome barriers to employment faced by people who find it particularly difficult to get a job.

Round 1 of the fund delivered $20.4 million to 33 projects. And it’s great to see two of them here today – Joondalup Youth Support Services and the AMA – two of four Western Australian projects supported by the Fund.

Round 2 of the fund closed last month and we anticipate an announcement by the end of October this year.

You may have also heard of the Jobs Fund – in fact, the Temporary Financial Assistance is part of the Get Communities Working component of the $650 million Jobs Fund.

A few of the successful applications under the Get Communities Working program have been announced in the past few weeks. And we expect a full announcement of all successful projects under the first round of $100 million very soon.

Shortly after this, applications will open for the second round. This will be advertised in the papers, on the website of the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and through the Third Sector News e-newsletter that you can sign up to receive on my website.

For smaller volunteer-based organisations, applications are now open for the Australian Government’s Volunteer Grants.

This small grants program enables organisations to apply for grants of between $2 000 and $5 000 for small equipment items that will benefit their volunteers. Things such as a microwave to heat up lunches, new paint brushes or a lawnmower. They can also apply for up to $2 500 to reimburse the fuel costs incurred by their volunteers.

Applications close on 25 September and you can find out more on the website of the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

All of these funding programs demonstrate the Australian Government’s deep regard for the important role that non profit organisations and charities play in binding our communities together.

We recognise that it’s only by working together in partnership with the sector that we’ll be able to achieve our vision of an inclusive Australia – one where everybody has the opportunity to contribute in their own way.

That’s why I’ve been leading the Australian Government’s work on developing a national compact – a kind of partnership agreement – between the non profit – or “third sector” and the Australian Government.

The compact is about building a more respectful and productive working relationship between the Australian Government and the third sector.

Just this morning, I have been meeting with other non profit organisations to discuss their views on the national compact consultation paper that was released a few weeks ago.

The consultation paper outlines the principles that should guide our relationship and suggests several actions that both sides should take to fulfil these principles.

I would really value your input in this debate. An online forum has been set up specifically for these discussions on the Social Inclusion website, and I encourage you to register and contribute to the ongoing discussion.

I firmly believe that “together we are stronger.”

And by working together, in respectful partnership, we are more likely to achieve the goal that we share of a strong, vibrant community.

So thank you for your time this afternoon, keep up the good work and congratulations on the funding that you have been awarded in recognition of this effort.

I hope to see you online on the compact forum soon.