Clubs will still be able to allocate the poker machine generated funds of the Community Contributions Scheme but face an increase in the amount they will have to provide to the scheme and a tightening of the rules under changes foreshadowed by the ACT Government.
And a portion of that extra amount, above the existing 8 per cent of pokies revenue that clubs contribute, will go to the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund.
Minister for Regulatory Services Gordon Ramsay announced the proposed changes on Wednesday (22 August) after a review of the scheme that was recommended by the Auditor-General earlier in the year.
“The Government has acknowledged the role that local clubs play in supporting their communities and we will preserve clubs’ right to allocate the existing 8 per cent scheme,” Mr Ramsay said.
The clubs, which have acknowledged the Auditor-General’s call for a tightening of the scheme, have run a vigorous campaign against the Government’s proposed changes, saying they threatened junior sport and the activities of community groups.
Despite what he called scaremongering, Mr Ramsay said the Government had engaged with clubs on the scheme so contributions would be more transparent and directed at those most in need.
“What was clear is that the community needs more, rather than less, out of the community contributions scheme. We will be looking to increase the required amount of contribution, and a portion of that additional amount will go to the Chief Minister’s Charitable Fund to ensure funding is available to even more community groups,” Mr Ramsay said.
“Over coming months, I will announce the Government’s full suite of changes to make the scheme work better for the people of the ACT, maximising the benefits to the community.”
He said rules would be tightened around what could be claimed as a community contribution under this scheme to make sure that claims were in line with community expectations.
“These changes will be informed by careful consideration of what the objectives of the scheme are, and who it should benefit. We must seriously consider whether sports clubs paying for their own operating costs would be better funded by revenue from outside the amount dedicated to supporting the community,” Mr Ramsay said.
“The Government will also be considering changes to improve the transparency of payments made under the scheme, and particularly to make it easier for the public to see who has received community contribution funds.”
The changes to the scheme would be in place before the end of the year.