Australian charities reveal ‘huge financial blow’ from Covid-19 | Australian economy


Covid-19 has dealt “a huge financial blow” to Australian charities and not-for-profits but many of the organisations were already under pressure prior to the pandemic, a new survey suggests.

With an “unpredictable” road to recovery ahead, many directors in the not-for-profit sector are worried about the looming rollback of the federal government’s jobkeeper wage subsidy, according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) poll.

The study – drawing on answers from 1,303 respondents from across the not-for-profit sector in July – provides an insight into the challenges facing the sector as it seeks to navigate the current crisis. Some 40% of surveyed organisations said they had made a loss in the previous three years.

The findings were also based on 10 virtual focus groups held with leaders working in areas covering mental health, education, arts, sport, child welfare, domestic violence, philanthropy, community housing, disability services as well as emergency and relief service providers.

The report, published by AICD on Thursday, says the pandemic has “amplified the challenges that many organisations were already facing”.

“Covid-19 was the tide that went out and showed all those who were swimming naked,” said one unnamed survey respondent cited in the report.

It notes profitability in health and aged care had already been going down for several years before facing another significant drop during the pandemic.

Only 48% of organisations surveyed expected to achieve a profit in the financial year ending June 2020, with the rest either making a loss or breaking even.

But in a sign the financial impacts varied widely across the sector, nearly two-thirds of social services organisations that responded to the survey reported they were likely to make a profit. That stood in contrast with the about 60% of health and residential aged care organisations and business and professional associations that anticipated breaking even or making a loss.

“Our research found significant variations in the impact of Covid-19 on organisations depending on such things as funding sources, timing, location and, in some cases, luck,” the report says.

The AICD, which has produced an annual study on not-for-profit governance and performance since 2010, said Covid-19 had intensified pre-existing pressure “pushing boards and organisations to their limits”.

“Just when demand for NFP services increased, their revenue took a huge hit,” the institute’s managing director, Angus Armour, said.

About 55% of the respondents said their organisation was receiving jobkeeper – while about a third were not eligible. Some 87% of directors reported being worried about the national economy, with a high degree of uncertainty about the future.

Armour described jobkeeper as “nothing short of a lifeline for many”, but raised “significant concerns” about how organisations would manage when the current scheme ends in March next year.

“These organisations need to be able to continue their vital work through the pandemic and on the other side, but unless issues of funding are addressed, it is likely some will be forced to wind up,” he said.

“Given the vital role these organisations play in our society, targeted assistance is required to ensure these organisations survive over the long-term.”

The report points to inadequate pre-pandemic baseline funding in certain not-for-profit sectors. It says organisations in human services sectors, such as aged care, disability and mental health, and the arts “have struggled with inadequate funding, inefficient funding structures and inequitable distribution of support”.

Regarding the road to recovery, the report also suggests that not-for-profits should approach governments to suggest ways to use fiscal stimulus to achieve both economic and broader social objectives.

“For instance, some of the stimulus measures aimed at the construction industry could be allocated for rebuilding social infrastructure like social and affordable housing,” the report says.

“Focus group participants cited concern about the ability to cater for future demand as the recession bites harder and an already stretched sector needs to respond.”



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Charities set to benefit from rich prize pool in Golden Eagle


IT is more than just a horse race – the $7.5 million Golden Eagle on Saturday has the power to change people’s lives.

Not just the jockeys, owners and trainers of the winning horses but the charity they have selected to receive a 10 per cent share of their prizemoney.

“I think it’s a wonderful thing, a great concept that Racing NSW has been able to create for people,” legendary trainer Gai Waterhouse said.

She has three horses in contention for the big race all vying for the $4.1 million first place prize pool.

“We’ll trifecta the race! I’ve got great confidence,” she laughed about contenders Just Thinkin’, Dawn Passage and Riodini.

“All three can handle the wet, so hopefully one of them can win and the others run well. I’m very happy with all three,” Ms Waterhouse said.

But more important is the share of the prizemoney they win that will go to charity.

“I’m just happy to be a part of it and hoping I can help them (the charities) pick up the money.”

Dawn Passage is running for the Children’s Cancer Institute.

“This is an enormous opportunity,” the Institute’s chief marketing and fundraising officer Anne Johnstone said.

“We’re hugely excited, because If Dawn Passage wins this race we could gain $410,000 and for us that would be organisational changing,” she said.

“It would mean we could fund four researchers for a whole year at the lab bench looking for new treatments for kids with cancer.”

And that would be good news for a charity that has been haemorrhaging funds since the pandemic hit.

“This year has been a really tough one for charities. Covid has affected everybody, but kids don’t stop getting cancer. Cancer doesn’t hibernate,” she said.

Any prizemoney won by Riodini will go to the National Jockeys Trust and the 10 per cent share from Just Thinkin’s winnings would go to the Riding for the Disabled Association.

Former Paralympian and the Association’s executive director Jan Pike was thrilled to meet the bay gelding at the Waterhouse-Bott stables in Randwick ahead of his appearance in the third richest race in Australia behind The Everest and The Melbourne Cup.

“We’ve had a very hard time this year with Covid-19. We’ve had to close a lot of our riding schools and because of that we don’t get the revenue we need, so this is a great opportunity,” she said.

Board member Tracy Lucas was equally thrilled to be nominated as the charity for a Gai Waterhouse-trained runner. “It’s such a privilege. It’s very overwhelming actually, it means a lot,” she said.

“The support we’re getting is amazing and means a lot to RDA. Covid has really knocked us around a lot as an organisation.

“We’ve got 39 centres and they’ve done it tough, so it would mean a lot to everyone if we did well in this race.”



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Children from low-income migrant families should have permanent free school meals, charities say | Politics News


Free school meals should be permanently given to pupils from low-income migrant families who are currently ineligible for public support, charities say.

Sixty organisations, including the Children’s Society, Unison and Action for Children, have signed a letter to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson calling for the measure.

In April, free school meals were temporarily offered to children from some families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF), in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

But concerns have been raised over how long the support will continue for, with charities now calling for it be made permanent.

It comes after Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford managed to force the government to U-turn to pledge free school meal vouchers were provided to pupils over the summer holidays.

Image:
Marcus Rashford led a successful campaign to extend free school meals

NRPF is a condition applied to those staying in the UK on a temporary immigration status who have not yet qualified for permanent residency in the UK. It means they have no access to the benefits system.

The Children’s Society said an estimated 175,643 children, who are non-European Economic Area citizens, live in families who have NRPF, according to research from the migration observatory at the University of Oxford.

Sam Royston, director of policy and research at the Children’s Society, said: “It is unacceptable that thousands of children, whose lives have already been turned upside down by the pandemic, could lose out on free school meals.

“Adjusting to being back at school will already be a tremendous challenge for most, but whether a child is able to eat should not depend on their parents’ immigration status.

“The extension of free school meals for children affected by NRPF has been a lifeline, but we know that the impact of the pandemic will be felt for years to come.

“The government must permanently extend free school meals to all low-income migrant families who have no recourse to public funds, to help ensure that every child can return to school with the hope of a bright future.”

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A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We have temporarily extended free school meal eligibility to include some children of groups who have no recourse to public funds in light of the current unique circumstances many families face at this time.

“This will continue for the duration of the summer holidays and while the outbreak impacts schools.”



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Here are the indigenous charities you should be supporting


Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of the Indigenous charities you should consider supporting if you are hoping to make a difference.

(Image: Unsplash/Gisele Diaz)

Which Indigenous charities and campaigns should you be supporting? Following the death of George Floyd and the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, you may be asking yourself how you can make a difference. 

Before we delve into the Indigenous charities and campaigns you may consider supporting, here are some key statistics to keep in mind: 

  • More than 400 Indigeneous Australians have died in police custody since the royal commission in 1991
  • Indigenous Australians make up 2% of the national population but represent 27% of the prison population
  • Indigenous suicide increased from 5% of total Australian suicides in 1991, to 50% in 2010, especially among those aged 10-24 years of age
  • Thirty-three pre cent of Indigenous adults reported high levels of psychological distress in 2014-15, and hospitalisations for self-harm increased by 56% between 2004-05 and 2014-15
  • Indigenous children were almost 10 times more likely to be placed in out of home care than non-Indigenous children in 2015-16.

Here are some Indigenous charities and organisations you may consider supporting: 

  • Healing Foundation 
  • The Indigenous Literacy Foundation 
  • The Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA)
  • ANTaR
  • Yalari
  • Justice for David Dungay Junior
  • Justice for Yuendumu: Inquiry on Police Shooting
  • Indigenous Crisis Response & Recovery

The Healing Foundation is a national Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation that partners with communities to address the ongoing trauma caused by actions including the forced removal of children from their families. Donate here.

The Indigenous Literacy Foundation strives to make a difference to the lives of Indigenous families by gifting thousands of new culturally appropriate books ⁠— with a focus on early literacy and first language ⁠— and by running programs to inspire the communities to tell and publish their own stories. Donate here.

The Northern Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA) works with Aboriginal communities, and key government and non-government stakeholders, to deliver services in a professional, culturally proficient and community sensitive manner.

The NAAJA Criminal and Civil Law services are delivered throughout the Northern Territory. Donate here.

ANTaR is an independent, national network of organisations and individuals working to support justice, rights and respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Australia. ANTaR’s mission is to engage, educate and mobilise a broad community movement to advocate for justice, rights and respect for Australia’s First Peoples. Donate here.

Yalari identifies children who are doing well at primary school and gives them the opportunity to be educated at some of the best boarding schools throughout Australia. Yalari aims to provide young Indigenous people with the ideas and skills to help them pursue their goals and dreams. Donate here.


There are also active GoFundMe campaigns for the families of those who have lost loved ones to police brutality, including: 

In 2015, David Dungay (26) died in Long Bay jail in New South Wales due to police brutality. This GoFundMe page was set up by his mother Leetona Rose Dungay. Funds received from this page will be used to cover expenses, such travel costs to attend rallies and campaign events around our country. It will also cover legal expenses, accommodation and food for the family while they are campaigning. Donate here.

Kumanjayi Walker (19) was shot by police three times in his home at Yuendumu on November 9, 2019. The funds raised through this campaign will be withdrawn by organiser Lisa Watts to pay for lawyers to travel to Yuendumu to facilitate an independent inquiry into the shooting. While most of the lawyers will be working pro-bono, funds are still needed to cover the costs of airfares and other transport and associated forensic expertise. Donate here.

The Indigenous Crisis Response & Recovery Aboriginal Corporation (ICRARAC) responds to the crisis needs of Indigenous people throughout Australia. This organisation has been established by Indigenous people for Indigenous people to respond to the bushfire crisis on the south east coast of Australia. Donate here.



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Charities warn school closures could have lasting impact on neediest children – Channel 4 News


More councils have expressed concern about the phased reopening of schools in England.

The government wants to begin re-opening in stages from 1 June. Currently schools are only open for the children of key workers and the vulnerable, with millions being schooled at home.

Meanwhile charities have warned that prolonged school closures could have a lasting impact on some of the neediest children.

How are kids coping at home? Ayshah Tull reports.



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