Productivity Commission's Relevance to Volunteering Issues "Less Clear"

Volunteering Victoria has responded to the Productivity Commission Report saying the report's relevance to the issues facing the volunteering community is less certain than for the rest of the Not for Profit sector.

Volunteering Victoria says while the Commission's recommendations will, if implemented, reshape the regulatory environment for Not for Profit (NFP) sector, they do not address the core issues of volunteering in Australia.

Volunteering Victoria CEO, Dianne Embry says increasingly volunteering, in the context of economic activity, is seen primarily as an “input” within the NFP sector, rather than as a discrete community of interest with discrete needs. This “input” view is reflected in the ABS data that informs the report.

However Embry says the main discussion in the Commission's report is about volunteering in the context of the NFP “workforce” with the primary recommendations in relation to volunteering relating to easing the burden of police checks on NFPs.

While important, she says this is hardly the core issue for volunteering in Australia.

Volunteering Victoria argues that volunteering is not a sub-set of NFP inputs, standing on its own feet with 5 million volunteers across Australia, and is the primary mechanism for community participation.

Volunteering Victoria says it has long been concerned with the reduction of volunteering's contribution to the community to an economic measure.

Embry says this misses the actual value of volunteering to the community- the contribution to the strengthening of community, community cohesiveness, and the reduction of exclusion and marginalisation.

She says the report does give an opportunity to start to define the elements of the relationship between the service delivery based NFP sector and the volunteering community.

Embry says the contribution of volunteering must be understood in its own terms, not as an adjunct or input of something else. Until this happens volunteering organisations can’t progress the volunteering position in policy and program formations.

Volunteering Victoria says it recognises that the Productivity Report is about the NFP sector. But volunteering being subsumed within the context of the NFP “business” environment (volunteering as cost element) indicates that government still struggles to understand the role that volunteering plays in building and strengthening community connection.

Dianne Embry says Volunteering Victoria looks forward to the development of the National Volunteering Strategy to promote a better informed discussion about volunteering. But as a volunteering community it needs to ensure that government understand the link between support for volunteering and community outcomes.

The final report of the Productivity Commission Inquiry into the Contribution of the Not for Profit Sector was delivered to the Rudd Government in February.

The full report and key findings can be downloaded at www.pc.gov.au/projects/study/not-for-profit/report
 

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