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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 02 Hansard (Wednesday, 24 February 2010) . . Page.. 598 ..

Community services

MR HARGREAVES: My question is to the minister for community services. Can the minister please outline what the government is doing to support the community sector?

MS BURCH: I thank Mr Hargreaves for his interest in the community sector, which is, indeed, an important sector for services in the ACT. The ACT has implemented a range of measures to strengthen the sustainability of the community sector. We have focused on staff retention, industrial relations support and other capacity-building measures.

Each year the ACT government provides approximately $119 million in funding to the community sector. Through our partnerships with community organisations, we are building more sustainable community services. We have already invested funds to support the community sector to attract and retain a skilled workforce through the development of a portable long service leave scheme for the ACT community sector. We aim to implement this scheme during 2010.

The ACT government has amended the indexation level for community organisations to an 80 per cent wage price index and a 20 per cent consumer price index amount. The community service indexation amount was adjusted to better reflect the cost pressures facing community organisations.

The ACT government has continued to find ways to support community organisations, and we have committed to supporting improved industrial relations advice to these organisations across the ACT. This commitment will reduce the administrative burden of navigating the federal industrial relations system and will support community organisations and their employees to access specialist industrial relations advice. As part of this commitment, the ACT government will also review community service wages and conditions and explore new funding approaches to support a more sustainable sector.

We also understand that opportunities exist with other industries to support the delivery of services to vulnerable clients. The private sector also contributes valuable resources and support to community organisations. The ACT government explores opportunities to promote philanthropic giving in the ACT by individuals and businesses.

We know that access to information and resources can be time consuming and deter groups from seeking new partnerships, which is why we have established a site to support improved access to philanthropic information and resources in the ACT. The ACT government has established a community support and infrastructure grant program, and this program offers one-off funding for projects that build community sector viability, update office equipment and enhance our community infrastructure. The ACT government has a forward agenda that has a strong focus on sustainable infrastructure.

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