Philanthropy Australia: Philanthropy Meets Parliament House

I would like to start by acknowledging that you are meeting on the lands on the lands of the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people and I'm coming to you from Kaurna country on the Adelaide Plains.

I think this is a really exciting gathering because everyone in the room, our Government – but obviously all of you as well, want to tackle the challenges facing Australia head on.

It is about looking to the future as well as building a better future. And many people in this room do want to break the cycle of intergenerational disadvantage and see a fairer society here in Australia.

So that's exactly what a lot of the discussion is about today, not just our aims, but how we actually do that.

Our Government has certainly started that journey. If we think about our Government, and particularly our Treasurer’s resolve to our new Measuring what Matters report. It is about not just measuring GDP and employment, but also measuring our success as a government against a whole lot of new indicators that tackle big social issues, things like equity, inclusion, diversity and discrimination as just some examples.

And so, we see this starting to measure things that matter as underpinning decision making and how we can collaborate going into the future. Of course, I think when we look at our Government’s agenda and many of the agendas that philanthropic organisations have, we're seeing really similar motivations to support communities in programs, in interventions and support to improve their quality of life.

But in the past we've seen too often, in investment, that lack of distinctiveness and co-ordination and it means we haven’t really realised the benefits – the true benefits – of these investments.

We’re seeing duplication, fragmentation and a lack of accountability to communities and I think that's a really key element here. That communities are part of this as well.

It is these communities themselves that miss out when the work of government or philanthropic investments or social enterprises exist in isolation of one another.

By coming together and combining our strength, I think we can achieve ambitious, measurable outcomes, that could not be achieved by either government or philanthropic organisations working alone.

It is through the commitment of working together and to partner on shared goals, driven also by what we can learn from the communities we seek to serve. There is an opportunity to deliver better outcomes.

So I think we have sent a really strong message that we do want to collaborate with philanthropic, non-for-profits and business sectors to double philanthropic giving by 2030.

And a lot of this work is being led by the Assistant Minister Andrew Leigh, who has asked the Productivity Commission to report back on how donations to charity can be boosted to meet this goal and we are due to receive the report in May.

And lastly, we have also set up in a Blueprint with ways to grow structured giving. It shows how philanthropic, for-purpose, businesses and government sectors can work together. We are working and supporting the non-profit sector development Blueprint, and Assistant Minister Andrew Leigh has been doing Australia-wide consultation on that work as well.

Another area we are progressing is workplace giving, which enables Australians to make donations often matched by employers to charities and to participate in volunteer activities.

But of course, we're always looking to boost philanthropic giving, because that coordination piece that I mentioned at the beginning is really critical.

And so this idea of the Investment Dialogue, really coming from the Jobs and Skills Summit, which has been embraced by the Treasurer and myself as a new way of working. Joining organisations and working with Australian communities to look at how we tackle that intergenerational disadvantage with a goal of improving the wellbeing of children, young people and their families.

The Investment Dialogue will enable the Government to coordinate efforts and direct resources where they're needed most. The primary purpose of the Dialogue is to provide a sharing platform to share expertise.

It's that level of collaboration that is critical and the primary purpose of that collaboration is to provide a sharing platform to encourage shared expertise, data resources and to transmit that.

A clear message is focusing on children is the priority of many philanthropic organisations. We know that when we get in early, we can really make a difference.

I want to make the point finally, that it is not just a partnership between philanthropy and government – we cannot forget communities in this.

Our communities and the people we are seeking to support need to be at the heart of our vision and direction. And it is when true partnership is empowering. It does mean accepting that people who know communities are the ones with the knowledge of the challenges and often hold the knowledge about what the solutions might be.

This is going to involve both philanthropists and governments taking a step back and actually listening. It involves building capacity and connections, with people who are experiencing disadvantage so that they are empowered and provided with the tools and resources so that they can make informed decisions that are driven by community.

It will involve listening, and listening to what works. This is a different way of working not with just with philanthropy and government, but with communities as well.

And I think the notion of divested power and openly handing over information and evidence to communities – and sharing the accountability for the investments that we make together – has the potential to be so powerful.

But above all, it is trusting in the solutions developed by communities which is so key. This is a real opportunity to do things differently. We're already trialling this approach with our Stronger People Stronger Places Initiative and we’ve seen some green shoots of progress here, where we have seen for example the youth crime rate in Bourke – an area the community wanted to target – we’ve seen that decline. And we’ve seen the birth rate increase in Logan. So we have seen priorities from communities, solutions tailored and a plan of action from backbone teams in partnership with government and not-for-profit organisations.

The other different ways of working have been in the Budget Measure of our Outcomes Fund which we announced in the last Budget and is starting to flow.

This has the opportunity to shift the dial.

There is huge opportunity where we can truly partner with philanthropic organisations, but also with communities as well. We really need to see that three-way approach, along with the not-for profit organisations and government organisations delivering on the ground.

I hope gives you some idea of my views and the views of our Government. This is an exciting opportunity to do things differently so that we get different results, and so that we can tackle, particularly entrenched disadvantage, for communities and make a real difference.

Thank you for having me here today.