Stronger Charities Alliance
Hands Off Our Charities was an alliance of charities and not-for-profits, formed in 2017 to respond to proposed legislation “silencing” them and limiting their capacity to advocate or protest. Now, in a more favourable political climate, they have re-formed themselves into the Stronger Charities Alliance.
Last week more than 50 leaders and staff members of not-for-profits belonging to the Stronger Charities Alliance gathered in Parliament House, Canberra to launch a report, Voices for Change. The report is a comprehensively researched overview of not-for-profit advocacy in Australia. The research noted a generally more positive response to not-for-profits actively advocating on behalf of those they represent. At the launch the Minister, Andrew Leigh, spoke of the need to support groups, volunteers and organisations in building community. These, he said, are “the backbones of democracy.” He emphasised the importance of charities and the need for their voices to be heard and to be engaged in the public debate. Doubling philanthropy and engaging more Australians in the culture of giving is one of the Minister’s aims. Other speakers focused on the right to protest, the need for a Charter of Rights, reform of the sector and a greater commitment of the government to supporting the not-for-profits.
Following the launch, a small group of leaders from key not-for-profits gathered to review the Voices for Change research and to make recommendations to government. The recommendations included reform of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits commission, amending the Charities Act to take account of the role of advocacy and introducing standard terms to federal funding agreements to protect advocacy.
Representing MWIA at these two events gave me a great opportunity to hear from a range of very committed advocates and to re-evaluate the importance of advocating for the people we work with.
Author: Sr Libby Rogerson ibvm