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Catholic network says government must support charity sector in coronavirus pandemic plans

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More needed: Ursula Stephens said the nation needed “concrete measures” to support Australia’s economy, which was being rocked by the rapid spread of COVID-19, and that government support needed to be extended to the charity sector. Photo: Stock Image.

CHARITIES should be included in the Australian Government’s plan to assist small business and protect jobs at risk of a collapse from the coronavirus pandemic, Catholic Social Services Australia’s chief executive officer said.

Ursula Stephens said the nation needed “concrete measures” to support Australia’s economy, which was being rocked by the rapid spread of COVID-19, and that government support needed to be extended to the charity sector.

While praising the Federal Government’s plan to give $750 to families and individuals receiving welfare payments, including pensioners and Newstart recipients, Dr Stephens said charities also required cashflow to survive an economic fallout.

“Giving charities and social services access to cashflow support will provide greater certainty around their business continuity at a time when many regional and rural communities continue to be affected by drought and bushfires,” she said.

Dr Stephens’ comments mirrored those of Community Council of Australia chief executive officer David Crosbie, who said charities employed more than 1.3 million Australians.

“Charities are often overlooked when it comes to stimulus packages and economic incentives, despite the fact that they turn over around $150 billion each year, contribute more than five per cent to GDP, and employ 1.3 million Australians, particularly in areas where business employment options can be limited,” Mr Crosbie said.

“Already many charities are entering the starvation cycle – we need to ensure they are able to employ the staff they need now and into the future.”

When it came to protecting Australia’s economy, CSSA said it supported the Government’s plans but questioned the actions of stock market traders who “have a responsibility to think carefully about their current actions and the harm they are causing to public confidence”.

Dr Stephens said Australia was a resilient nation and would see out the coronavirus the way it had survived natural disasters.

“It is important that we remain calm and ensure that our collective actions serve the common good,” she said.

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