The second annual post-budget not-for-profit breakfast hosted by UCA Funds Management produced a combination of snappy media grabs and more reflective analysis on the health of Australia’s social sector.
Four panellists addressed the 140-plus breakfasters at the fog-enclosed Kooyong Tennis Club on Tuesday morning, focusing on issues of particular concern to the not-for-profit sector in the wake of both the Victorian and federal budgets.
The Commonwealth Bank’s Director of Global Markets Bruno Bellon provided an overview of the federal Budget and the state of the economy.
Deb Tsorbaris, CEO of the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare; Beth Webster, Pro Vice Chancellor at Swinburne Uni; and Darrell Price from Grant Thornton spoke on the impact on the community services sector.
Ms Tsorbaris gave a pithy reaction to the two budgets calling the federal one “incredibly disappointing” but declaring “Hip hip hooray” for the state one.
Mr Bellon said the Australian labour market is undergoing substantial change as it transitions from full-time to part-time work. He said there are greater opportunities for women, and people are changing jobs every two to three years.
However he said the flexible work hours also brings considerable insecurity and further stress on the household income.
Prof Webster specialises in the economics of how knowledge is created and diffused.
She said that at the federal level public debt had attracted a stigma that was unwarranted and was holding back the creation of jobs.
“Unemployment and under employment is around 14 per cent,” Prof Webster said.
“There is a fear about going into debt. But more debt provides more job opportunities which will ultimately pull people out of unemployment.”
She also said that research indicates that, in comparison to other nations, Australia is well served in large-scale physical infrastructure.
What is lacking is a long-term vision in social and knowledge infrastructure and lack of investment in this will further erode the prospects of growing a just society.
Ms Tsorbaris pointed out that some sections of the population are being left behind and as a result are growing very angry. She said a just society needs to ensure it is inclusive.
Mr Price said a number of Budget promises were misleading. He said there is a continuing downward pressure on senior services, which were slashed last year and have had further funding removed again.
He also reiterated concerns re the NDIS program, saying that the $6 billion set aside is based on the forecast demand, which is 50 per cent lighter than the actual demand for its services.