Local, Independant and Effective

Video: Local philanthropy groups key for community solutions

Posted September 14, 2017


The most sensible solutions for regional challenges are often developed in the regions themselves. Cathy praised Indi's locally based philanthropic groups which often "fill the gaps" and called on the government to announce the Community Stream of the Building Better Regions Fund.

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (11:23):  Colleagues, my topic today is regional solutions and the role the government has in supporting communities. The government have told us that they don't have all the answers and that the most sensible solutions are often developed in our regions, and I couldn't agree more. This week, Philanthropy Australia hosted the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, which helps philanthropy organisations and government understand each other's perspectives and priorities and how they can work together to achieve desired objectives. Philanthropy is do-gooding on a grand scale. People give money to an organisation that then redistributes it. They do amazing work at the national, state, regional and local levels.

In the absence, however, of major policy implementation that adequately considers the diversity of our regional communities, our philanthropy groups and community groups, we're often left with: who is going to fill the gap and how do we join the dots to get the solutions we need? I have to say that, in my electorate of Indi, the community plays such an important role in developing solutions and finding ways in which they can work together. And so there are philanthropy groups such as the Tomorrow Today Foundation, led by Sally Gamble; the Into Our Hands Foundation, led by Paul Ryan; the Marysville and Triangle Community Foundation, led by Tony Thompson; the Friday Foundation led by Chris Friday; the Border Trust Community Foundation led by Michael Salter; and the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, which covers the whole of Victoria. We are doing really well in my electorate.

I want to acknowledge and thank the work of all those community committees and volunteers for the terrific job that they do in making our communities better and filling the gaps—gaps that government could never fill. For example, the Marysville and Triangle Community Foundation does leadership and capacity building work; the Harry and Clare Friday Foundation based in Mansfield looks after aged care and health services; the Border Trust is doing some fantastic work with the Young Women Leading Change program to foster community leadership; the Tomorrow Today Foundation brings a whole community approach to education and building a much better town in Benalla; the Into Our Hands Foundation is delivering Social Enterprise 101 workshops, in partnership with the Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship; and the Corryong Neighbourhood Centre has developed the Upper Murray Community Bakery, which employs up to six staff—people who otherwise would be on benefits. They're getting jobs in Corryong, learning skills and creating such a positive attitude.

I would also like to acknowledge two of my constituents, who are in parliament today. I welcome Liam and Nathalie. They're volunteers in my office this week, and they're learning how parliament works. They're both seriously involved in our communities, doing volunteer work in so many ways. Thank you on behalf of the parliament for the work that you do.

But what I really want to say to the parliament is that we could get such a better bang for our buck with our community volunteers and philanthropy if we had a framework, if we had a way of government supporting them. The philanthropy groups have told me that they need help with tax deductibility. They have told me that, if they could have some support within that taxation system, it would make the giving of money easier and the spending of it—well, they can spend it easily enough; it's getting it that makes it really hard. My community groups in Corryong say that they're doing such fantastic work but it's really hard for them to get the project management money that they need out of community resources, and so they have to use their corpus money to pay project workers to do all the management. If there were some way that the government could support them in that role it would make a difference.

I'm here to say to my communities: the government is understanding this. We've got some programs that work in that regard. There is one particular program, and that is the community stream of the Building Better Regions Fund. It has been specifically designed to help us with this. It's a call-out to the minister: 'Hey, Minister, can you tell us when you're going to announce the funding for this?' We know that all the submissions are in, but if Senator Nash and the National Party could follow it up for me, I would be really grateful.

Our communities want to know how the government is going to support them to do what they're already doing, and programs like the Building Better Regions Fund is exactly the right program to help us do it. Everyone is waiting. They haven't got the answer as to who is going to be funded and when they can start the next period of work. I welcome the opportunity to be here today, and I thank all my community for their voluntary work. 

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