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Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Transparency Maintained for Growing Engagement between Government and Non-Government Organisations

The Australian Government will consider the most effective ways to ensure that the transparency of the growing engagement between Government and Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) is maintained, Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, said today.

The Government released the report The Protocol: Managing Relations with Non-Government Organisations, undertaken by the Institute of Public Affairs.

Senator Patterson said although a lot of the information about the relationship between the Government and NGOs is already publicly available, the report suggests that it could be better organised and made more accessible to the public.

She said the Howard Government was committed to ensuring that the growing productive relations between Government and NGOs were open and transparent. Governments of other OECD countries are also addressing this issue.

Senator Patterson said: “The Howard Government has placed great store on developing the relationships between Government and NGOs to create an effective social coalition.

“Unlike Labor, this Government does not believe all wisdom resides in Canberra. Community-based NGOs know the local issues and are able to have vital input into the development and implementation of key Government programs.

“An outstanding example of this is the Government’s $365 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy. Significant amounts of this funding will be distributed through NGOs to help children and families in local areas.

“NGOs will work with community leaders, local service providers, local business leaders, all levels of government and local families to develop a community action plan. Local organisations are best placed to understand local needs.

“What this report is pointing out is, given this increased level of engagement between the Government and NGOs, that the Government needs to think about how to effectively convey this information to the public.”

Senator Patterson said the IPA report had recommended a website to report information on the relationship between the Government and NGOs, especially in regards to NGO participation on advisory committees and delegations.

“This Government welcomes the increased level of engagement with the non-government sector that has occurred over recent years. This demonstrates that the social coalition is working.”

The report is available on the FaCS website.