New report finds WA charities doing it tough

A new report from The University of Western Australia has found that Western Australian charities are operating under significant financial pressure and have had to reduce their service offerings considerably as a result.

It found that charity profits are down by nearly 50 per cent and the range of services charities provided has been reduced by a similar amount.

The Not-for-profits Landscape Report, released today by the Not-for-profits UWA Research Group, evaluates recent changes in a sector that employs more people than the mining industry and provides services and support to some of the most vulnerable people in the community.

The report found that job quality was diminishing in the charity sector, which is dominated by female workers and is typically low-paid.

Casual employment increased by more than 21 per cent while full-and part-time job numbers fell by 1.33 per cent during the same period.

Additionally, the report identified a reduction in the service mix, including the types, quantity, location and quality of services provided, which meant demand for these services was increasingly unmet.

Professor David Gilchrist, from UWA’s Business School and convenor of the Not-for-profits UWA Research Group, said the report identified that charities were under considerable financial pressure and had no choice but to reduce their service offerings as a result.

“The evidence suggests that the sector is not faring well, with increasing financial pressure causing it to reduce the number of services charities are able to offer and support,” Professor Gilchrist said.

He said the lack of data prevented a closer analysis of the risks faced by those relying on charity organisations and the prospects for them to be able to continue to receive the support and services they needed to live their lives.

“Not only is funding scare but we simply do not understand the impacts of current funding policy,” Professor Gilchrist said.

“If we do not understand the nature, quality, quantity and location of services across the not-for-profit sector, we are in real danger of seeing the cracks that we talk about people falling through becoming chasms.

“This is unsustainable and will ultimately cost service recipients and taxpayers.”

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