Media Release by Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens

Philanthropy remains strong despite global slowdown

Joint Media Release with:

  • The Hon Jenny Macklin, Minister for Families Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Australia’s major companies have continued to support and invest in our communities despite the tough economic conditions faced in 2009, according to a report released by the Australian Government today.

These issues featured in discussions at today’s Social Inclusion Conference in Melbourne where corporate representatives and academics discussed the role business can play in social inclusion.

Minister for Community Services, Jenny Macklin and Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector, Ursula Stephens, today released the report, Impact of the Economic Downturn on Corporate Community Investment.

The report found that despite the economic downturn, large companies are continuing their trend towards strategic long-term community investment, with the majority surveyed sustaining their multi-year commitments.

Sixty-eight per cent of respondents expected an increase in corporate volunteer support in 2009-10, while 52 per cent expected an increase in workplace giving and payroll deductions.

Ms Macklin said corporate community philanthropy is essential, as more individuals and families are now seeking help from charities in times of need.

“This report is heartening, highlighting the generosity of the Australian corporate community, even in tough times,” Ms Macklin said.

Senator Stephens said that the conference panel discussion – Let’s do business: corporate social responsibility –emphasised the valuable perspectives, talents and resources that corporate Australia can bring to addressing the multifaceted problems of social exclusion.

“The complex causes of deep disadvantage cannot be resolved by government alone or by the not-for-profit and corporate sectors working in isolation,” Senator Stephens said.

“It is only by working in partnership with all three sectors and bringing our respective strengths to tackling the complexity of exclusion that we will be able to make a difference.”

The Australian Government commissioned the Centre for Corporate Public Affairs to undertake this research, which included surveying 150 leading Australian listed companies and focus groups with public affairs and corporate affairs practitioners responsible for corporate community investment strategies.

It found that despite many companies experiencing significant pressure on budgets:

  • 41 per cent of respondents indicated that their overall community investment budget had increased since the previous year
  • 35 per cent reported no change

It also found:

  • 69 per cent of companies kept their multi-year commitments
  • 12 per cent reported their commitments had been reviewed downwards
  • 12 per cent said their commitments had been postponed or abandoned