Page 2140 - Week 07 - Wednesday, 22 June 2005

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As part of the community sector funding policy, a large number of community organisations providing human services now have three-year service funding agreements to give them greater security of funding. This includes a number of peak community advocacy organisations. Over $70 million is allocated annually by the ACT government to community organisations through these funding agreements. The government is conscious of the need to support the community sector itself and the people who perform its daily miracles, as well as supporting the sector’s constituency.

The people who work in the community sector are highly trained professionals, every bit as entitled to decent and rewarding wages as their peers in other sectors of the economy. As the Chief Minister pointed out at the ACTCOSS post-budget forum, their children are no cheaper to feed, their cars are no cheaper to run, and their bread and milk cost the same. Yet some sections of society and some governments expect sacrifices from this sector that they would not be willing to take on themselves. They believe that we can rely indefinitely on the goodwill and community spirit of the sector.

Traditionally, funding to this sector has been indexed according to the consumer price index. The government last year promised that it would resolve, once and for all, the vexed issue of indexation. This has been done and the reform is locked in, long-term. Last month’s budget allocates an additional $5.661 million in funding over four years, which will start to flow in in 2006-07, to support the new indexation system. From 1 July next year a new indexation model will apply that recognises the effects of salary increases, as well as operating costs. The new funding index, comprising 80 per cent wage cost index and 20 per cent CPI, was proposed by ACTCOSS. The government has been happy to accept their advice.

In the important field of health the services provided by non-government organisations are acknowledged and applauded by this government. They are, quite simply, crucial to the health and aged care sector in the ACT. ACT Health funds almost 100 non-government organisations to a total cost of over $40 million. These organisations provide a wide range of services, ranging from self-help and social support to community based and residential service delivery, as well as advocacy and policy input.

We are actively looking to enhance the partnership between government and non-government services in a number of key areas such as alcohol and drug services, and aged care. The input of peak organisations and the perspective they provide from the community, consumers and carers is highly valued, and the government will continue to support this role.

The ACT government believes that the way to meet the aspirations and satisfy the hopes of Canberrans, is to build, over time, a community that is resilient, that has a capacity, a community in which everyone is entitled to reach their potential and is given the opportunity to do so. The kind of community the government had in its sights a year ago was outlined in the initiatives in the Canberra social plan. Our ongoing commitment to funding the non-government sector, as well as our recognition of the contribution of the sector, is evident both in what this government has done and in what we are committed to achieving in the future.

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