The community sector provides essential services for a wide section of our community, including some of the most isolated from society.
Services provided range from emergency relief and crisis accommodation to financial counselling, community development and healthcare. Yet there are considerable challenges for those operating community services in the non-profit sector, including:
- Outdated and unclear laws and regulatory frameworks;
- Overly demanding application and reporting requirements by governments and other funders, which can take vital time and resources away from service provision; and
- Inadequate funding leaving staff with little or no supervision and programs unable to run in the long-term regardless of their demonstrated benefits for the community.
ACOSS and community services
Many of the organisations providing these vital services are members of ACOSS. We develop policy and advocate for the improved and effective provision of social services in the interests of our members and service users.
The needs of service users are particularly important for ACOSS, as we work to ensure the adequacy of support for people on low incomes or facing problems that bring them into contact with social services.
Examples of ACOSS work on community services include:
- The development and sustainability of non-profit social services in the face of tightening funding from government and others, and as private enterprise increasingly looks for profitable opportunities in the social service sector;
- The regulatory framework of charities and non-profit organisations, particularly where it entails overly strenuous requirements that many non-profit organisations cannot sustain; and
- Work on the relationship between community services and government, including funding and contractual relationships.
Our work on sector development looks at the range of issues facing the sustainability and development of the social service sector. These include workforce issues, funding viability, career support and development for workers, innovative practices, and relationships with government and other funders. The primary objective of the sector development portfolio is to inform ACOSS advocacy in the interests of our members and on behalf of low income service users.