The Fred Hollows Foundation today welcomed the Federal Government’s announcement that it would lower the income threshold for charities to access the JobKeeper to 15%, but said that may not be enough to save vital charity services.

Foundation CEO Ian Wishart said complex funding structures and sources of income meant many international NGOs would likely remain ineligible, despite the Government’s offers of support.

“The Fred Hollows Foundation supports The Government’s effort to protect the jobs of charity workers at this incredibly uncertain time,” Mr Wishart said.

“We believe some simple amendments will ensure that the Government’s desired support protects Australia’s vital charity sector as it seeks to continue its work to help the most vulnerable Australians and those in some of the poorest countries in the world.”

Mr Wishart said The Foundation, along with others in the sector requested the following amendment to the program:

“Employers registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission on the Charities Register as at 1 March 2020 will be eligible if:

i) their turnover will be reduced by more than 15 per cent, excluding government grants and specific purpose grants and philanthropic funds; and

ii) the reduced turnover is expected to occur for the 2020 calendar year relative to that reported in the last Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Annual Information Statement or Annual Financial Report.”

“Australian charities are being hard-hit by the economic downturn and may struggle to survive without support,” Mr Wishart said.

“It is critical that the new legislation excludes government grants, and is based on a projected deadline in revenue over the next 12 months.

“For charities it’s not as simple as for businesses like restaurants and cafes where the decline in trade is immediate when a sector is closed down. We expect our fall in donations to continue for many months as the after-effect of the COVID-19 downturn is felt.”

Mr Wishart said The Foundation was committed to working with the Government, Opposition and crossbenches to ensure the program met the needs of the charity sector.

“We are grateful to the Morrison Government for their swift action to save jobs in the charity sector and ensure Australian NGOs can continue to deliver vital services at home and around the world.”


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