As impact of coronavirus grows, survey shows community services were already struggling with demand

  • Women supporting each other
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As the impact of the coronavirus on the not-for-profit community service sector continues to emerge, the Australian Community Sector Survey, released today, demonstrates that this sector is already under-resourced.

Community services support people in times of great need, such as assisting people escaping domestic violence, supporting people with disability, facing homelessness, struggling to feed their families or dealing with mental health issues.

“The response to COVID-19 has demonstrated the strength and adaptability of our sector while highlighting the high level of demand for our services,” QCOSS CEO Ms Aimee McVeigh says.

Key findings from the survey of more than 1400 community sector workers nationally, undertaken late last year, includes:

  • Two thirds reported that poverty and disadvantage increased among the people accessing their services in 2019
  • 82 per cent reported demand in the community either ‘increased’ (50 per cent) or ‘increased significantly’ (a further 32 per cent) in 2019
  • More than 40 per cent of organisational leaders said they need to be cautious about engaging in systemic advocacy because of their funding arrangements
  • 60 per cent observed increased competition for funding, with less than 1 per cent reporting that it decreased.

Ms McVeigh says the community service sector and the people serviced by it will be deeply impacted by COVID-19.

“It’s crucial that community services are able to provide essential supports for Queenslanders experiencing disadvantage in the face of this pandemic.

“Now is the time we need to work together, take care of each other, and support the most vulnerable people in our community.

“To allow us to focus our attention on the safety and wellbeing of our workforce and the community, we need government to be flexible with funding agreements.

“QCOSS is committed to continuing to work with the Queensland government to support Queenslanders and the community sector during this trying time,” Ms McVeigh says.

The survey was prepared by the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW Sydney in collaboration with the Councils of Social Service of Australia, supported by Community Sector Banking.

For 60 years, QCOSS has been a leading force for social change. We believe that every person in Queensland – regardless of where they come from, who they pray to, their gender, who they love, how or where they live – deserves to live a life of equality, opportunity and wellbeing.

20 March 2020