Tess Casey and Jo Goodhew - Community services under pressure

From Sunday Morning, 7:08 am on 30 October 2016
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Photo: 123RF

A survey of community and volunteer groups has revealed they are under increasing financial pressure.

The survey conducted by the umbrella group, Comvoices, had responses from 280 community organisations. 

Of those, 42 percent were worried about their financial viability, and about half were using their reserves to survive. Six of the community organisations faced closure. 

Survey convener Tess Casey said the organisations were facing greater demand and greater complexity, all with less funding from the government.  

"The main issue for a lot of the organisations is that they're having to do more with less, and a number of them have not have had a funding increase for between eight to 10 years, and that's if they have government contracted funding.

"And that's across the board regardless of who the funder is."

Ms Casey said organisations also struggled to find top-up funding elsewhere.

"With funding restrictions on services, what it means is that organisations have to reduce their budgets and often the main way they can do that is reduce the number of staff they have, which if you also have greater demand for services, that puts extra demand on the organisation."

She said often organisations were dealing with clients who had complex needs, sometimes involving a lack of housing, addiction or mental stress. 

Minister for the Voluntary and Community Sector Jo Goodhew said she acknowledged the issues raised in the survey and that "funding has been tight for quite some time." 

"I'm certainly not able to give any blanket assurance that there is a light on the horizon, but I do want to assure Comvoices that this a useful survey for us to look at, and that what it raises is certainly replicated in the conversations that officials from our various government departments are having with the providers."