The community services sector is the beating heart of Queensland’s economy. We are part of the largest employer group in Queensland. On any given day almost 150,000 people go to work in our more than 10,000 charities. Our essential work is supported by more than 324,000 volunteers.

Which statement reflects the ability of your service to meet demand, so far in 2021?

Which statement reflects the ability of your service to meet demand, so far in 2021? In Brisbane, 55% of those surveyed said they always or usually meet demand. 31% said sometimes. 14% said Rarely or Never meet demand. Outside of the capital, 59% of services said they always or usually meet demand. 27% said sometimes. 14% said rarely or never.

We are there when Queenslanders are in need. We provide services to people experiencing homelessness, domestic violence, and mental health issues. We support children, people with disability and older people. We provide connection and community.

Like 2020, 2021 was a year characterised by challenges and change for the community services sector. After listening to workers and volunteers at engagement workshops in Brisbane, Ipswich, Gold Coast, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, and Cairns and through a survey, we have provided an overview of the emerging challenges the sector is facing.

Listening to the community services sector is a privilege. Our sector is made up of people who go the extra distance to make a difference, who change lives and believe that through our collective efforts, we can tackle disadvantage.

One worker at our Ipswich workshop described the value of her organisation’s work with beautiful simplicity: “Every day we keep women alive.”

The challenges outlined in this report must be understood and addressed to enable the community services sector to reach its potential. To ensure the work of our sector is impactful, the basic needs of our service users must be met. This includes dealing with the housing crisis, ensuring income support is above the poverty line and creating a society where people experience community. Coupled with this, we must have a social service system that is resourced sufficiently to lift people up when they need support.

The community services sector is facing an unprecedented level of demand that is growing in complexity. While there have not been significant numbers of COVID-19 cases across regional Queensland this year, the impacts of the pandemic have created turbulence. Queensland is living through a housing crisis, the population is growing and changing, it is increasingly difficult to attract and retain staff, mental health issues have been experienced by both service users and staff and the rapid digital transformation is leaving many behind.

So far in 2021, which of these have been the main challenges affecting the people or communities that your organisation supports?

Challenges identified include: 78% reported housing affordability and homelessness, 66% Cost of living pressures, 64% Lack of access to mental health supports, 64% Social isolation, 51% Lack of access to face to face services, 47% Access to a safe home environment, 42% inadequate Centrelink payments, 40% Lack of access to tech and the internet, 39% loss of jobs or hours, 26% Poor access to Centrelink payments, 25% lack of COVID-19 financial support, 24% supporting children's learning at home, 21% border closures, 18% poor working conditions or low pay, 14% poor access to translating or interpreting services, 13% requirements to work from home, 11% getting information about COVID-19

This report outlines significant pressures on our feminised workforce. In addition to challenges associated with recruiting and retaining staff and offering good quality permanent jobs, we heard about fatigue and burn out. Community sector stakeholders also identified gaps in areas such as better service integration, the improved use of data and a stronger focus on prevention. There is significant scope to overcome many of these issues through an improved relationship between government and our sector, underpinned by adequate and ongoing funding, including funding that recognises the increased costs associated with delivering vital services to the community.

This report tells the story of a sector that provides Queenslanders with the support they need when times are tough. By addressing the challenges outlined in this report, we will empower the community services sector to grow our economic contribution and work effectively toward our vision of equality, opportunity, and wellbeing for all Queenslanders.

11 July 2022 | Focus area: |Service type: