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Thursday, 24 October 2019
Page: 5462

Mr PASIN (Barker) (12:47): Stand Like Stone is a not-for-profit organisation working to benefit communities across the Limestone Coast in the south-east of South Australia. It's the largest community foundation of its type in South Australia, and all donations to the organisation are pooled and invested. The income generated is used over time to support charitable projects and organisations across the Limestone Coast as well as to provide educational scholarships within the region. Since its inception in 2004, Stand Like Stone has distributed a whopping $1.4 million to communities across the Limestone Coast, through grants, projects and scholarships. Like many community foundations across the country, Stand Like Stone can respond quickly to critical community issues, address community needs in specific locations and enable collaborative philanthropic activity by making powerful connections between donors and community organisations for the long-term benefit of the community.

From the Migrant Resource Centre's vegie patch to the Foodbank warehouse and the Steven Noble Memorial Community Bus, just to name a few, there are so many community projects Stand Like Stone has benefited. In short, the model is grassroots local philanthropy benefiting local communities. But Stand Like Stone is one of many community foundations across the country that is hampered by red tape. The current deductible gift recipient framework is making access to philanthropy much harder than it needs to be. Under the current regulatory framework, a public ancillary fund cannot receive distribution from another ancillary fund, be it private or public. As 'item 2' deductible gift recipients, ancillary funds can only make a distribution to 'item 1' DGRs. This restriction is a common source of frustration, and the red tape it imposes is regarded as a barrier to giving. The lack of appropriate DGR status causes significant issues and costs for many community foundations, particularly those in rural and regional communities. For the sector as a whole the administrative costs involved in working around these issues is estimated at $1.5 million a year. That's $1.5 million that could be going to the many good causes that foundations like Stand Like Stone support. Community foundations like Stand Like Stone play a huge part in giving and supporting community action but this barrier is a handbrake on grassroots giving. Community foundations need to be granted DGR item 1 status, thereby reducing the red tape and administrative burdens of workarounds, enabling a more collaborative environment for private ancillary funds. I'm working with my colleagues, including Senator Seselja, on this issue. I'm hopeful that a solution can be found, so that this handbrake can be taken off the sector and off great organisations like Stand Like Stone that are doing so much good in the Limestone Coast community.

Last year the Morrison government announced an additional 30 Medicare subsidised MRI services across the country. The expansion of Medicare eligible MRIs for 30 additional sites is estimated to provide access to important diagnostic scans for up to approximately 132,000 extra patients a year. I wanted residents of the Riverland to be direct beneficiaries of this initiative, so over a five-week period I ran a petition, collecting signatures across the Riverland, calling for an MRI licence for the Riverland—saving residents a two- to three-hour drive to the nearest service. I presented the petition to the Minister for Health. There were 4,000 signatures. Later in the year, in March, he gave me a call with the good news: my lobbying had paid off. The Riverland General Hospital was successful in its application for one of the 30 additional Medicare licences. Having had a great win at a federal level, it was now over to the state government to obtain the MRI machine. This week, I'm very pleased. The state government announced $4 million for the installation of a new $1.5 million state-of-the-art MRI machine and completion of $2.5 million of surrounding capital works to house the machine.

The Riverland General Hospital will undergo building works to accommodate the new unit, which is expected to be up and running by the end of 2020, as per the agreement with our government. This is a fantastic outcome for the people of the Riverland and a wonderful example of state and federal governments working collaboratively for the benefit of their communities. I've got to give a big shout-out to the local health advisory council, the many businesses and community organisations, and, indeed, the volunteers who helped me collect those valuable signatures on that petition. It's truly a brilliant result for the people of the Riverland.