The Commonwealth Government has a long history of providing grants funding to the community sector.
The Community Investment Programme provides funding to improve the responsiveness and integration of local community services to increase the participation of vulnerable people in community life (Department of Social Services, 2013). Funding is provided in the form of grants and funding to not-for-profit organisations.
Total funding for the Community Investment Programme in 2013-14 is $43.2 million.
There are four streams of grants funding under the Community Investment Programme:
- Community Capacity Building Projects – this stream provides grants to community organisations to deliver local projects to strengthen communities and assist disadvantaged individuals to participate in community life. Current funding agreements expire on 30 June 2014, except one which expires on 30 June 2015;
- Volunteer Grants – this stream offers ad hoc grants of between $1,000 and $5,000 to not-for-profit organisations to help cover the costs of volunteers, including training, fuel and any required background checks. Grants rounds are conducted on an annual basis and funding for 2013-14 is fully committed;
- National Secretariat – this stream provides funding for seven peak organisations to manage relationships with stakeholders and provide advice to government. Funding agreements expire on 30 June 2014, except one which expires on 30 June 2016; and
- Indigenous Community Links – this stream supports Indigenous community members and their families by providing links and referrals to a range of mainstream and Indigenous services, such as welfare and social support, employment, legal and housing. Funding is provided for Indigenous Community Links to 2014-15.
The programme has an explicit aim of assisting those who identify as Indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse, having a disability or a volunteer.
Performance reporting for the programme is relatively limited and generally relates to the numbers of people assisted, with no specific reference to outcomes.
State governments already provide grants in this area. For instance, the South Australian Government provides grants for multicultural, youth and other community organisations.
Some examples of funding arrangements under the programme are shown in Table 10.10.1.
|Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group||$81,469||Assists children and young people in Gloucester with homework and assessments, as well as extending their knowledge base academically through one-on-one tutoring.|
|Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau Inc||$188,006||The project aims to increase the number of volunteers from culturally and linguistically diverse and refugee backgrounds in the City of Greater Dandenong. The project recruits and trains participants in skills such as community development or administration, matches volunteers to appropriate roles, provides supervised on-the-job training by qualified staff, and creates opportunities for volunteers to undertake accredited training.|
|Multicultural Centre for Mental Health and Well-Being Inc||$220,437||Strengthens communities, builds capacity and leadership skills, and reduces anti-social behaviour within the community. The project delivers mentor programmes to improve communication, interpersonal skills and self-esteem to create healthy relationships for recently arrived refugee youth. The project also provides educational forums on law, culture, sexual and mental health, and employment rights and responsibilities. The project activities take place in Yeronga.|
|Metropolitan Migrant Resource Centre||$310,209||Provides leadership training programmes in Mirrabooka and Clarkson for young people from across the metropolitan area. The project promotes self-awareness and encourages young people to develop productive ways to address issues faced by their community.|
Source: Department of Social Services, 2013.
The Commonwealth Government does not have an explicit constitutional head of power to deliver community development programmes. Community grants for development and volunteers are currently provided by at least some State and/or local governments. There would appear to be scope for the Commonwealth to transfer responsibility and funding for these programmes to the State governments.
Department of Social Services 2013, Community Investment Program, viewed December 2013, <http://www.dss.gov.au/our-responsibilities/communities-and-vulnerable-pe....