On 21 May PA made a submission to the House of Representative inquiry into the Register of Environmental Organisations. Our submission can be seen and downloaded on the Government's website, PA's is submission 177. Here are the key points and key recommendations we sought to make in the submission.
PA operates it's fund in accordance with the requirements of the REO Office and the Taxation Department. PA's operational procedures include having a separate account, having an annual review by a registered Auditor and providing annual reports to ASIC, ACNC and the REO office. PA see itself as part of the great tradition in Australia of Environmental Organisations delivering benefit to the environment and Australian community.
PA is very proud of the environmental projects we've been able to assist both in Australia and overseas. There are hundreds of Environmental groups around Australia contribuing with similar commitment, the vast majority are volunteer based groups where the members provide knowledge, resources, effort and pride in their environment. These groups fill gaps where Government services are not being provided or work alongside government programs to bolster and extend them. These groups are a huge asset to Australia and come at very little budget expense.
Advocacy and community education are very similar. Regular work of community groups includes writing letters to the media, stalls at local markets, speaking at public meetings, publishing newsletters and providing public information ect. These are important activities for Environment groups, could be described as either advocacy or public education, it doesn't really matter what label is, it is necessary work. Groups work with involvement so it is an essential part of the management of community groups is to get the message out and involve them.
Do not over-complicate the REO compliance processes PA is run by volunteers and it's a delicate balance of volunteer time and commitment. We can manage the current levels of accountability and reporting but more demanding levels may not be within our reach. A more demanding level of audit and compliance reporting could easily drive active and currently compliant volunteer groups away from REO.
Offer capacity building to Environment groups through the REO
The REO facility could be extended to provide capacity building support to environment organisations. This could include management training in such things as, planning, fundraising ect or technical training like Environmental protection planning, mapping, ect. There could be a regular newsletters, conferences, workshops ect
Establish a network body representing Environmental Groups
The organisations registered with REO could be supported to establish a network body. This could be similar to what the International Aid Agencies have done. A network entity would allow a peer-group function to establish sharing of lessons learnt and a code of conduct to assist with sector self-regulation and improve skills and effectiveness.
[button_link url="http://permacultureaustralia.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/PIL-submission-21may15.pdf" target="blank" style="blue" title="" class="" id="" onclick="”]Download submission (pdf 1.6MB)[/button_link]