Strengthening the community sector to help people thrive
VCOSS welcomes the funding certainty provided to community sector organisations in the 2015-16 Victorian State Budget. The state government has allocated $935 million towards covering community sector wage increases mandated under the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO). This will assist community organisations to meet the costs of increased wages and attract and retain skilled, professional staff.
While indexation for 2015-16 has been provided on the same basis as the previous three-year funding and service agreement, at a rate of 2 per cent, VCOSS welcomes the government’s commitment to work together on future years’ indexation as part of ongoing service agreement discussions, and to monitor ERO implementation.
We also note that there will be further cost pressures on the community sector, particularly as a result of the National Minimum wage order, which is on top of the ERO.
Initiatives at a glance
- $935m over four years, with $163.4 million in 2015-16, to fund the Equal Remuneration Order (ERO) – will assist community service organisations to cover the costs of mandated wage increases under the ERO awarded by Fair Work Australia in 2011.
- Funding indexation of 2.0% in 2015-16 – this will go part of the way to assisting community organisations to meet other wage and cost increases. The government has agreed to work with VCOSS on future years’ indexation as part of ongoing service agreement discussions.
Future policy directions
- We welcome the government’s commitment work with VCOSS on future years’ indexation as part of ongoing service agreement discussions, and it has also agreed to work with VCOSS to monitor ERO implementation.
- The state government can strengthen Victoria’s ability to help people overcome disadvantage by developing a community sector workforce strategy that supports the ongoing development of a multi-skilled and expert workforce able to work with people from a range of cultural backgrounds facing complex social problems. The strategy would cover community sector workforce growth (including the peer workforce), qualifications, training and development.
- The state government can work with the community sector to solve complex social problems by developing a mechanism for high level social policy discussion.
- Collaborating with the community sector to tackle vulnerability and entrenched disadvantage is vital. Government policy and programs work better if they draw from the community sector’s on-the-ground experience, and expert analysis of complex problems and their potential solutions. Collaborative working processes at statewide, regional and local levels are needed to better help people overcome disadvantage.
- For those facing disadvantage the relationship is central to engaging them and takes time to build. Sudden disruptions that sever connections between organisations and the people they work with risk destroying these relationships, which can then take many years to rebuild. There is a high risk people will fail to engage with a new service. Government can work with community sector organisations effectively by valuing the long-term relationships organisations have built with the people they work with, and aim to protect these relationships when designing policy and programs, or instigating change.
- VCOSS looks forward to working with the state government for strong community sector to meet the needs of the Victorian community.