The Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies (ACWA) has described moves by the NSW Labor Opposition to introduce legislation that would require non-government (NGO) out-of-home care contracts be investigated by the Auditor General as an unacceptable attack on the integrity of charities that continue to work tirelessly to support the community’s youngest and most vulnerable.
Opposition Family and Community Services spokeswoman Tania Mihailuk is calling for bipartisan support for a bill that will require all out-of-home care contracts between NGOs and the Department of Family and Community Services to be audited prior to their renewal.
But ACWA CEO Andrew McCallum says such a step is unnecessary in a sector that is already heavily regulated, and claims the bill calls into question the conduct and ethics of organisations dedicated to providing critical care and case support to the most vulnerable in the community.
“We’re talking about organisations that have been operating in the community for more than 100 years, providing vital welfare services well before government took on this responsibility,” Mr McCallum said.
“The sector is already subject to high levels of oversight and scrutiny by the Office of the Children’s Guardian, the NSW Ombudsman’s Office and the Australian Charities and Non-Profits Commission.
“Equally, the new outcomes based funding model introduced by the Department ensures NGOs continue to be held to high standards in the way they deliver services to children and young people in care.
“On top of this, there is a Royal Commission currently running in this space and it would be premature to second guess what their recommendations will be.
“This bill implies that NGOs are driven by dollars. To see their work and commitment denigrated in this way is extremely disappointing.
“Simplistic headlines are not helpful when it comes to such complex social issues that are driven by a myriad of reasons.”
ACWA is the NSW peak body representing non-government organisations that provide services to vulnerable children, young people and their families.
Media contact: Andrew McCallum 0409 221 414 firstname.lastname@example.org
Media enquiries: Libby McCalman 0418 659 525 email@example.com