Restoring respect for charities and the community sector

A Labor government would be the first good political news most charities have heard since the Coalition came to office in 2013.

Over that time, the Coalition has waged a war against Australian charities. Upon coming to office, they tried to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission.

When their plans were blocked by parliament, they appointed a charity critic to run the organisation.

Charities need government to invest in future planning and capacity building, but the Coalition has sought to weaken and intimidate the sector and its workers. Their actions have prompted three open letters from the sector, calling on the Coalition to stop its attacks on charities and charitable advocacy.

A Labor government would give the sector the voice and the respect that charities deserve.

Labor would protect the voice of community sector organisations and recognise the value of charities contributing to public debate.

We are not frightened by the idea that charities might sometimes have different views from the government of the day.

Labor would fix fundraising laws, so that charities aren’t wasting precious resources keeping up with unnecessary and outdated regulations.

Labor would invest in our charity sector so that skilled and committed organisations can expand their great work, building engaged, connected and vibrant communities.

Australian charities work hard to give millions of Australians a better life. A Labor government will be a partner to the charity sector, to support charities’ work improving Australian communities.

The Coalition has tried again and again to stifle the expert voices of independent community charities.

The only time the Morrison government pays attention to charities is when they want to slap another gag on the sector’s ability to speak up for the public.

They want Australian charities to be seen but not heard.

They introduced gag clauses to government contracts, reduced funding for volunteering, put a charity critic in charge of the Charities Commission and tried to create laws threatening churches, charities and civil society organisations with disqualification if they participate in or promote public rallies and advocacy activity.

The Coalition are addicted to secrecy and will try to silence their critics rather than engage with their arguments.

On climate change, closing the gap, social justice and gender equity, the Coalition are deaf to the voices of the community.

Australians care about these issues and when they want to take a stand, the government should welcome their activism, not stifle organisations that help strengthen the health of our democracy.

Labor will protect the right of charities and not-for-profits to participate in the policy process and to take a prominent role in our democratic processes.

Over recent decades, the community sector and a range of traditional community social structures have been under strain.

Australian communities are becoming more disconnected. Fewer people are making connections across social divides and an increasing number of Australians, particularly older Australians, are leading lonely lives, without the social supports that could keep them healthy and happy.

Labor has been consulting with charities all around the country, bringing together thousands of leaders from the charity sector to discuss strategies for building community.

The community sector are experts on bringing Australians into collective activity and connecting them to the benefits of shared purpose.

Charities that support our communities should be treated as respected partners of government, but the Coalition have sought every opportunity to silence and weaken the sector.

Loneliness and disconnection in our communities is a serious problem for modern society. Labor recognises the unique role charities and the community sector play in providing a bond within communities and reducing individual isolation.