SENATOR DEAN SMITH
Shadow Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
Liberal Senator for Western Australia
HON MARK COULTON MP
Nationals Chief Whip in the House of Representatives
Federal Member for Parkes
HON PAUL FLETCHER MP
Shadow Minister for Science, Arts, Government Services and the Digital Economy
Leader of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives
Federal Member for Bradfield
31 March 2023
Shared Message from Charities Across City and Regional New South Wales
Recent back-to-back visits to charities and non-profits in the Federal electorates of Parkes and Bradfield provided an opportunity to compare the sector at work in dramatically different parts of NSW.
The visits by Coalition charities spokesman Senator Dean Smith are part of an initiative to bolster engagement with local organisations, which are working overtime amid the Albanese Government’s cost of living crisis.
In Moree, Senator Smith joined Federal Member for Parkes the Hon Mark Coulton at Gwydir Industries, learning about the valuable supported employment it provides people living with a disability.
They also visited Flat Track, which works with vulnerable youth, assisting them with often acute social, educational and job needs.
Continuing to Narrabri, Mr Coulton introduced Senator Smith to the local branches of Centacare and Meals on Wheels, as well as housing and disability support provider Summit Community Care.
Meals on Wheels and Summit shared the burden being placed on them by administrative requirements and their concerns on upcoming regulatory change, while all mentioned the challenges of providing complex services in isolated locations.
Senator Smith expressed gratitude to the organisations for sharing their experiences so frankly.
“The meetings in Moree and Narrabri were especially valuable because they covered the full spectrum of organisations – some winding back services, others rapidly expanding, but all dealing with the same issues,” he said.
“It’s incredibly encouraging to see the dedication of charities and their volunteers in regional Australia, and it says a lot that the same locals represented multiple charities at the meetings.”
Mr Coulton echoed this.
“We are lucky to have such committed, resourceful charities and organisations serving the Parkes electorate,” he said.
“The work they do transforms lives and they are an essential part of our communities – Gwydir Industries has employees who have been with them for 25 years.”
In the Sydney electorate of Bradfield the following day, Senator Smith co-hosted a community round table with the Hon Paul Fletcher MP.
A wide range of charities and organisations were represented, including those delivering aged care services, support to vulnerable youth, multiple birth parents and seniors in need of IT assistance, as well as the running of a community garden and the local Scouts branch.
Some of the organisations present had more than 1,000 volunteers and the discussion focused heavily on the challenges of finding and keeping volunteers in the post-COVID world and the future of volunteering.
Senator Smith said the articulate discussion revealed city and country-based operators had similar concerns.
“Regulation, especially in relation to volunteers, was again a key issue – and the forum generally agreed that security requirements such as Police checks should be dependent on the nature of the services a volunteer is providing,” he said.
Mr Fletcher paid tribute to his many local charity operators.
“We have always had an incredibly dynamic and well-run charity and non-profit presence in Bradfield, catering to those in need both here and across Sydney,” he said.
“But charities here aren’t immune to the increasingly challenging environment they operate in, from an ageing population to the sharply rising cost of living.”
Senator Smith said he hoped the visits demonstrated that the Coalition is listening to the charity sector and those it supports.
“Our charities and non-profits are needed more than ever and can be confident the Coalition is advocating for their interests – including through the outstanding representation of the Federal Members for Parkes and Bradfield.”