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Government needs a tailored solution for JobKeeper payment for community services

06 April 2020 By ASU

The Australian Services Union today urged the Federal Government to provide certainty to social and community services NGOs, ensuring the JobKeeper payment is available, where parts of their organisation are affected.

Assistant National Secretary of the union Linda White said many community services organisations were faced with a situation where a large part of their client base were staying home and not using services, while other parts of their organisation were less affected.

“The reality is that these organisations can’t cross-subsidise like most businesses because 90 per cent of their funding comes from Government or other grants and they are contractually required to use those funds for a specific purpose,” said Ms White.

“For example, homelessness funding can’t simply be diverted to aged care services because that would breach their funding agreement.

“If an organisation loses substantial funds from one part of its organisation, it can’t redeploy people and resources elsewhere.

“We just need to see a level of flexibility which pays attention to the uniqueness of the social and community services sector.”

Ms White welcomed the Government’s change in position which sees NFPs registered with the Australian Charities & Not-for-profits Commission eligible for the JobKeeper Payment if turnover drops by 15% but said this would still leave many exposed.

“We applaud the Government for listening to the feedback and trying to come up with a solution, but if we set an arbitrary figure on revenue drop across the whole organisation, that’s not going to recognise the unique position of these organisations.

“A simpler solution would be to set aside tied funding arrangements where the NGO has no choice about how funding is used, and only assess the remaining revenue.

Ms White said the union was committed to urgently working with stakeholders and the Government to refine the package.

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