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Strengthening the state: A snapshot of Victoria’s community sector charities

Victoria’s community sector organisations make a significant contribution to strengthening the state’s economy and society. They generate high levels of economic activity, employment and volunteer support. They deliver positive service and advocacy programs that help people overcome disadvantage and build brighter futures. Through doing this, they help build strong, cohesive, self-reliant communities.

This report aims to provide a snapshot of community sector organisations operating as registered charities in Victoria. These charities form a sizeable part of the Victorian community sector, aiming primarily to support people to overcome disadvantage and poverty.

This report is the first snapshot of Victoria’s registered community sector charities and is made possible through the release of data from the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) Annual Information Statements (AIS) for the 2012–13 financial year.

Key findings of this report include that, at the close of the 2012–13 financial year:

  • There were 2,672 community sector charities operating in Victoria.
  • Community sector charities employed almost 97,000 Victorians, equating to more than 3% of the Victorian workforce and employing more people than some other key industries, including the electricity, gas, water and waste services (34,900), rental, hiring and real estate services (47,300), information, media and telecommunications (64,000), arts and recreation services (69,600) and agriculture, forestry and fishing (82,200) industries.
  • With Victoria’s unemployment and youth unemployment rates at their highest levels in decades, it is important to recognise the community sector as a key employer and crucial to tackling unemployment in this state.
  • Approximately $13 billion in income was generated by Victorian community sector charities. In future years the ACNC is set to collect financial data in its AIS, which will enable a closer estimate to be made.
  • The value of community sector charities to Victoria’s society and economy is leveraged further by a significant volunteer workforce. Almost 135,000 people were volunteering through community sector charities, on top of the contribution of almost 97,000 paid workers in the sector.
  • Some sub-sectors of the Victorian charities community sector were almost completely reliant on volunteers to deliver services.
  • The majority of community sector charities support multiple beneficiary groups, reflecting the diversity of multiple and complex needs within the community.
  • The full reporting burden on Victorian community sector charities is difficult to assess from the data analysed in this report, and warrants further research. VCOSS advocates that reporting obligation data become mandatory in future AIS reporting, to enable a complete picture of the burden of reporting obligations to be obtained.

Overall these findings reinforce VCOSS’ knowledge that the community sector is a unique, valuable and diverse component of the Victorian economy and society.