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Commission goes into bat for not-for-profit -

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ELEANOR HALL: Australia has thousands of not-for-profit groups, ranging from the Australian Red
Cross to the Australian Koala Foundation, and the Productivity Commission has recommended a cut in
the costs that these organisations face in complying with government regulations.

Not surprisingly the not-for-profit organisations have welcomed the finding, as Brendan Trembath
reports.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: The Productivity Commission says Australia has 600,000 not-for-profit groups.

The presiding commissioner Robert Fitzgerald says these organisations can face "enormous" costs
complying with government regulations.

ROBERT FITZGERALD: When you go to the larger organisations - the ones that operate across all
jurisdictions - these compliance costs can really cost into the millions of dollars.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: He says the highest costs come when not-for-profit organisations enter into
numerous contracts with governments.

ROBERT FITZGERALD: Often with the same department with multiple reporting requirements -
effectively the same information. The problem with that is that there is very little benefit being
achieved.

There is movement by all governments in that area, but really it's time to create new models for
funding as well as the existing ones to reduce substantially the compliance costs associated with
the tendering, the administration and the reporting arrangements that are associated with those
contracts.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: Some compliance costs are smaller but still frustrating for the organisations
which have to pay them.

Chris McMillan is the chief executive of the Fundraising Institute. She used to work for a
children's charity.

CHRIS MCMILLAN: We had an event that would often the cross the state borders. It was our single
largest fundraising event and we would need to comply with the costs for checking of people
involved in terms of volunteering across the different state borders, and there are actual costs
involved with that.

We had to have the funding permits for doing fundraising across the different borders.

When you run an activity that goes across the states and territories you're having to do things,
you know, two or three times.

BRENDAN TREMBATH: She supports the Productivity Commission's call to reduce compliance costs.

The chief executive of The Australian Council of Social Service Clare Martin approves of the
recommendation too.

CLARE MARTIN: It would be very welcome, particularly in the sector that I speak for, which is the
community welfare sector who do a lot of outsourcing of government services.

And you know reports from agencies around Australia show that even in small organisations maybe 20
per cent of the time of a CEO can be spent in just reporting requirements and compliance. And a lot
of the funds or a disproportionate amount of funds can also be spent there.

ELEANOR HALL: Clare Martin is the chief executive of ACOSS. She was speaking to Brendan Trembath.