A new Parliamentary friendship group, comprised of Federal Parliamentarians from different political orientations, has been formed to champion Australian charities and not-for-profit organisations.
Although they play a critical role in assisting communities and represent the spirit of giving that defines the Australian character, charities and not-for-profits are too easily – and too often – overlooked.
The Parliamentary Friends of the Charitable, Not-for-Profit and Philanthropic Community has recently been established to address this situation, and to showcase the sector’s vital work across our country and the world.
Co-Chaired by WA Senator Dean Smith, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, and Tasmanian Senator Catryna Bilyk, the Group will provide a platform for the sector to maximise its Parliamentary engagement.
Charities, not-for-profit and philanthropic groups can use the Group to launch key reports, strategies and other initiatives.
Senator Smith said he was delighted to be part of establishing this much-needed Group.
“Charities and not-for-profit organisations improve the lives of millions of people every day,” he said.
“Whether it is responding to floods, bushfires or other natural disasters, or emerging from an unprecedented global pandemic, Australia is incredibly well served by its charities, not-for-profits and other philanthropy.
“This Group has been set up to increase awareness of the issues facing the sector and lead a national discussion on addressing them.”
Senator Catryna Bilyk said the vital function of charities and not‑for‑profits has been highlighted by the COVID pandemic, recent flood and fire natural disasters, and the cost‑of‑living crisis.
“Charities and not‑for‑profits are being squeezed at both ends—facing emerging challenges engaging volunteers and donors while the demand for their services is increasing,” Senator Bilyk said.
“In the face of these challenges, it is important for our Federal parliamentarians to work together across party lines to find new and innovative ways to support charities and not‑for‑profits as they navigate this rapidly changing landscape.”
The most recent ACNC Australian Charities Report shows total revenue in the charity sector rose to $176 billion – an increase of $10 billion on the previous year.
And the sector remains hugely important economically, employing almost 1.4 million people – or 10.5 percent of all employees in Australia.
“The generosity of Australians in recent times, both as donors and volunteers, has been remarkable,” Senator Smith said.
“But many challenges remain, both for the sector and the Australian and global communities they assist, and we must do all we can to support our charities and not‑for‑profits as they navigate them.”
“Australians pride themselves on values such as mateship, egalitarianism and ‘going for the underdog’,” Senator Bilyk said.
“It is vital that we maintain a strong charities and not-for-profits sector if we want to live in a world that is caring and socially connected.
“Having a Parliamentary friendship group for this sector recognises the vital role it has in upholding the values that Australians hold dear.”