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NCOSS concern for funding uncertainties beyond 2020

NCOSS has shed light on funding uncertainties for community groups beyond the state government’s July 2020 reform

The NSW peak social services body has expressed concern over uncertain funding of vitally important community organisations and initiatives.

As organisations across the state grapple with the impact of aged care reforms, NDIS and competitive tender processes, the NSW Council of Social Services (NCOSS) has voiced worry that community groups will suffer under unclear funding assurances.

CEO of NCOSS, Joanna Quilty, said she is hearing mixed messages from government about the future for services like neighbourhood centres post July 2020, when a state government Targeted Early Intervention reform takes effect.

The reform will look at how to change the sector to act quicker in ending the number of children reported at risk of significant growth. As well as community groups, youth and family support and Indigenous care groups will are being considered for reform.

She said: “On the one hand we hear that community strengthening activities are a key component of the service mix; on the other hand, there are messages that the focus needs to be on the very pointy end of the system such as child protection and risk of harm. These are important issues, but so is the need for localised community building.”

Quilty visited Belong to listen to funding concerns and see its community work. Belong was established after three neighbourhood centres in NSW Blue Mountains merged to consolidate its resources and better care for the community.

CEO of Belong, Kath Harrison, said that keeping the three locations but changing the business and operating model was crucial in concentrating organisation efforts on front end services, provide flexible support and ensure financial stability.

“Our board has invested substantial resources in streamlining functions, upgrading systems, ensuring strong governance and developing our capabilities in marketing and performance measurement so that we are well placed for the future,” Harrison said.

Quilty said community led organisations play a vital role in the social fabric of NSW communities and this new operating model demonstrates future thinking – which will need to be funded beyond the state government’s 2020 reform.

“These organisations have taken the initiative and invested in developing a business model that enables them to build on their strengths and capitalise on local knowledge, whilst ensuring they are maintaining the highest level of service delivery,” she said.

NCOSS said it wants to see a “diverse and vibrant” community sector that addresses community needs and trusts that some organisations will be a part of this in future, pending a solid funding plan for neighbourhood community programs from 2020.

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