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27th November 2011
Melbourne Zoo will celebrate its 150th anniversary next year. 150 years! About the same time the National Gallery of Australia, the Melbourne Cricket Ground and other Melbourne icons were also established. Someone back then had a lot of insight. At this time of year, it makes one wonder what legacy one can leave for future generations to ponder or even wonder over! Would our forebears even have thought about that? I’m sure they would: they would have been thinking about what they were leaving their children or their children’s children. Do we still think like that? It seems from our politicians that everything is done with short term thinking in mind. One 3 or 4 year term to the next. Would we ever commission a building that could take 50 years to complete (at least, not deliberately!) Could we even imagine what the world would want from architecture 50 years from now? We certainly consider environmental concerns to some extent but what about form and function? How will we use our buildings and structures. When the zoo was created it was called the ‘acclimatisation society’ bringing animals from Europe to Australia to ‘acclimatise’ because they thought the people wanted English song birds, foxes and rabbits! Are we still thinking like that? Are we basing our choices that will affect the future on our view of what we want now and in the past?
In 50 years, I envisage we’ll want more than ever a place at home to grow our own food, places for wildlife particularly birds as these will be incredible rarities, even what we see as common today like sparrows. We’ll want to find individual solace even in the smallest of spaces, we’ll want quiet time to get away from technology which will be consuming perhaps even neurally integrated. I wonder if we’ll continue to have more single people living on their own or we’ll move to more medium density communal living.
Will the seas have risen and taken away currently threatened land? Will we need to create artificial islands? Will we be eating entirely chemically created food? Will organic food be a distant memory? Will wildlife only be in zoos?
If I’m still healthy and happy in 50 years (could be, pharmaceuticals and medicine going the direction they are) I’m hope someone else is thinking about how our lives will be and begin to think about how we’ll be living 50, 100 or 150 years into the future. And start building the foundations of those visions now. Our city founders left us something else as well as buildings and institutions; they left us a challenge to be as visionary as they were and start putting the building blocks in place now.
The Not for Profit Sector in Australia (Source: Productivity Commission Report)
There are approximately 600 000 not-for-profit organisations (NFPs) in Australia. Most of these are small, non-employing organisations that rely on the voluntary contributions of members and external volunteers.
The sector makes a significant contribution to the Australian economy. In 2006-07, it accounted for 4.1 per cent of GDP (which does not include the contribution of volunteers), employed close to 890 000 people and utilised the services of some 4.6 million volunteers. Three-quarters of volunteers across all NFPs contribute to culture and recreation activities or to social services
Around a quarter of NFP employees were employed by the community services sector in 2006-07.
The number of NFP employees in community services grew strongly from 156 000 in 1999-00 to 221 500 in 2006-07 during a period of strong economic growth.
The community services workforce is often characterised as being female, part-time and middle-aged.
The data confirm these propositions. Women represent 87 per cent of employees, working an average of 31 hours per week, with an average age of 41 years — the average age of employees outside the health and community services workforce is 39 years (AIHW 2009).
Difficulties attracting and retaining staff — a workforce crisis? In 2008, 64 per cent of community service organisations reported difficulty in attracting appropriately qualified staff (ACOSS 2009). The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR) confirmed these findings, reporting skills shortages in all states and territories for social workers in 2008 and skills shortages for welfare workers in New South Wales and Queensland and recruitment difficulties in other states (DEEWR 2009c). Skill shortages are concentrated within the NFP sector, particularly in rural, regional and remote areas. This is partly due to lower wages NFPs are able to offer, fewer training opportunities and career paths and, in smaller organisations, a lack of human resources knowledge to effectively market the benefits of working in the sector
Around half of the sector’s income is self-generated (including fees for goods and services). A third is received from government (including contracted government services) and around 10 per cent from philanthropic sources.
In 2006-07, the sector generated $41 billion gross value added (GVA) — equivalent to 4.3 per cent of total GVA. This with the national income of the wholesale trade sector ($48 billion), transport and storage ($48 billion) and government administration and defence ($40 billion).3 It is larger than the gross value added of the communications sector ($25 billion), but smaller than that of finance and insurance ($77 billion) (ABS 2009b). In other words, it is a very significant sector and growing.
NFPs report rising costs of recruiting, managing and training volunteers. Minimum qualifications, occupational health and safety, food safety, security checks, and public liability insurance add to these costs.
While this analysis concentrates on community services, many of these issues are relevant to other parts of the NFP sector, including sports, arts and culture.
The research report was submitted to the Australian Government at the end of January 2010. The full report and key findings can be downloaded at www.pc.gov.au/projects/study/not-for-profit/report