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Telling the community sector to suck eggs?

By 23 May 2012 6

The Liberal’s Vicki Dunne is firing up about plans to spend $2 million of money that would go to community sector organisations on teaching them to be more efficient instead.

“I have become aware the ACT Labor Government plans to strip $2 million from community service organisations over four years to fund a government taskforce which will lecture these organisations on efficiency,” Mrs Dunne said.

“The community sector already operates far more efficiently than this government could ever hope to. This is a completely inefficient government telling efficient organisations how to suck eggs, and ripping money out of them in the process.

“These organisations will forego their own much-needed funding to be lectured on efficiency by Joy Burch, one of the least competent Ministers in the Assembly. Her Directorate is far from efficient and makes some providers wait 600 days for payment.

“This is money the community sector uses to help people in need – homeless people, people with disabilities, frail aged people who suffer community exclusion, children who need care, young people at risk, foster and kinship carers.

Don’t we all love being told to “work smarter”? (usually code for “I want you to skip some duties but don’t want to be responsible for it”)

UPDATE 23/05/12 10:23: Joy Burch’s office has fired off a lengthy rebuttal:

Dear all, please find attached the media release issued on February 1 2012 when the ACT Government committed to fully-fuding its share of the wage increases covered by Fair Work Australia’s Equal Remuneration decision handed down that day. This commitment is estimated to be worth $27 million over eight years. Ms Burch held a joint press conference that day with ACTCOSS director Roslyn Dundas.

Also attached is an information paper on how the fund will work. It has been agreed to by the taskforce that has been established, which consists of 10 community sector representatives and 3 government reps. (This is the “government taskforce which will lecture these organisations on efficient management” Dunne refers to in her media release). Also, the fund is only $1.4 million over 3 years, not $2 million as Dunne claims.

This reform is something the sector has been welcoming of since we announced it on Feb 1, as part of Equal Remuneration commitment. The release of 1 Feb says:

Ms Burch said that the ACT Government will also establish a Community Sector Transition and Investment Fund to implement the outcomes of the case and to provide practical transitional support. The fund would also support measures to strengthen the capacity of the sector to deliver social services.

“This is a great opportunity to work with the sector on other measures to improve their capacity to deliver vital services and to help reduce their costs of doing business at a time of great change in the sector”

Ms Burch said the Fund would be funded through a short term contribution from Community Sector funding over the next few years, but that the benefits achieved would outweigh this cost and would be wholly returned to the sector.

The Fund will be used to identify and implement economies of scale savings, such as through shared services models and cutting red tape, along with a number of other measures where appropriate.

“For example, assistance with bulk purchasing could be an option to ensure more funds are available for frontline services.

“A steering committee of community sector representatives will be established to implement the measures they identify can most improve the services they offer and reduce their business costs.”

In short, this is something the sector has asked for and has known about since February, and working with the Government on. It is surprising that the Canberra Liberals have only just realised (and not understood how it works).

The media release is here, the Q&A here.

UPDATE 23/05/12 11:54: And now another fact sheet from Joy Burch’s office:

UPDATE 23/05/12 14:33: Meredith Hunter has joined in the Joy Burch kicking:

ACT Greens Leader, Meredith Hunter, says that cutting frontline community services to implement Government reforms is a policy fail by Community Services Minister, Joy Burch.

Ms Hunter’s comments came after it was revealed this morning that a at least $1.4m over the next 3 years will be taken away from vital community services to fund projects that include reducing government imposed red tape.

“I am once again disappointed at the mean spirited approach the Community Services Minister has taken to reforming the sector that works with our most vulnerable citizens, and I am calling on the Minister to reconsider her decision,” Ms Hunter said.

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6 Responses to Telling the community sector to suck eggs?
#1
Muttsybignuts9:58 am, 23 May 12

I think its about the recent pay equity case for Community workers. The Government is going to “support” the sector to learn to better manage their money so they can afford the pay increases.

#2
Overheard10:59 am, 23 May 12

The community sector can always do with a bit of advice on how to work smarter.

There’s a very unfortunate mind-set that says (sometimes overtly, sometimes out of public sight): ‘We’re just a community/volunteer/not for profit [delete where not applicable] organisation — we don’t have the time, people or resources to manage ourselves better/be professional/apply professional management and resource-allocation etc. strategies’.

Which is of course a load of foetid dingoes’ kidneys. (Thank you, Douglas Adams.)

We always have options and not all of those have to cost highly or even cost dollars.

It’s a sickening and mind-numbingly appalling approach to doing business in any capacity. It sucks the life out of those trying to work for, with and within such organsations and it just generates, celebrates and propogates mediocrity and complacency.

/bile ducts cleaned out for another morning.

#3
EvanJames11:22 am, 23 May 12

Overheard said :

The community sector can always do with a bit of advice on how to work smarter.

Agree. The degree of muddle-headed-ness and waste is something that needs to be addressed, even equipping them to design some frameworks for their organisations, rather than making it up as they go along. This would enable them to do more with the little they have, and use what resources they have more wisely. It’s a good move.

#4
p111:25 am, 23 May 12

I guess this is a case of the “community sector” being a very diverse place with all sorts of organisations. Personally, I have mostly been involved with community organisations who have very limited funding and people (who have often raised that money) with an interest in it being spent appropriately.

But I guess some orgs who get buckets of money from the government aren’t so picky about where it leaks to.

#5
VYBerlinaV8_is_back11:48 am, 23 May 12

The people I know who work at community sector jobs are not what I would consider efficient.

#6
Overheard12:05 pm, 23 May 12

p1 said :

I guess this is a case of the “community sector” being a very diverse place with all sorts of organisations. Personally, I have mostly been involved with community organisations who have very limited funding and people (who have often raised that money) with an interest in it being spent appropriately.

But I guess some orgs who get buckets of money from the government aren’t so picky about where it leaks to.

Some of these organisations do brilliantly well, and despite having low or no pay for many positions, they attract workers with a wealth of experience and expertise who will apply those skills to making the place run like a well boiled icicle. Oops, thinking of the wrong organisation; I mean, well-oiled bicycle.

BUT often times the organisation has to either overtly or covertly rely on the passion and drive and altruism of their staff and volunteers to go beyond the call of duty in their own time, sometimes using their own resources, just to get their charter met.

The innovative ones will find ways to reward these staff appropriately. The average ones will just accept this effort as par for the course.

The egregious ones will kick their supporters when they don’t meet up to their lofty expectations of what can be done with scant resources/no resources except their own altruistic efforts.

Allegedly.

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