In its ‘Building Capacity, Building Community’ election commitment, Labor undertook to “unlock additional support for organisations that lift the vulnerable, address disadvantage and enrich our communities”.
It committed, among other initiatives, to three things:
First, appointing an ‘Expert Reference Panel’ from the non-profit sector.
Second, creating a “blueprint” mapping out how Australian charities could reach their potential.
Third, providing coaching to the charity and community sector in its role as frontline responders.
Additionally, in its latest Federal Budget, Labor committed to a Productivity Commission review of the existing framework to incentivise philanthropy to the sector.
As of today, the Albanese Government has not announced that any of these commitments have advanced at all.
The first hearings of the Senate Cost of Living Committee were held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane last week.
They laid bare the challenges faced by the charity sector as it fights to meet rapidly growing demand for services.
Charities are being left to pick up the pieces of the cost of living crisis while the Albanese Government drags its feet delivering on its modest election commitments to them.
There have been nine interest rate rises in the last nine months and inflation has climbed to the highest level in more than three decades.
The Salvation Army noted at the hearings that one third of its clients are now presenting for charity support due to cost of living pressures.
In some cases, charities are simply unable to meet demand.
When asked if they had recently been forced to turn any clients away, organisations including the Salvation Army, Foodbank and Wesley Mission replied with a unanimous ‘yes’.
Senator Dean Smith, the Coalition’s charities spokesman, said the non-profit sector has waited too long for action from Labor.
“The cost of living crisis is reaching deep into suburbs and towns across the nation, compounded by the Albanese Government’s lack of a comprehensive economic plan,” Senator Smith said.
“Charities need to be supported if they are to support others, and this lack of certainty from Labor could not come at a worse time.
“I call on the Albanese Government to act immediately and honour its commitments to Australia’s non-profit sector.
“While these commitments are far from a silver bullet, in challenging times they are a start.
“Australia’s charities and the households relying on them can wait no longer – last week’s hearings and the confronting evidence we heard are proof of that.”