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Tim Costello $200m for charities welcome - but we'll need more, much more

Tim Costello told a zoom meeting of charity leaders today that the $200m of Federal government support  was “very welcome” but also expressed fears that charities would disappear in the coronavirus crisis.

On Zoom,  “Australia at home”, was organised by Essential Media, the Guardian and the Community Council for Australia. “Some of you in this room, leading through a time of crisis, won’t have charities in six months,” Costello said. “I want to honour that and admit that grief.”

“A New York Times analysis shows that three quarters of not profits in the U.S. would run out of cash within six months. We don’t have the figures for Australia, but it would be similar here.”

Costello’s answer to the meeting’s topic “Can we have Charity without Charities?” is shown in a letter to the PM and the National Cabinet he co-write  with David Crosbie, CEO of the  Community Council for Australia. They are calling for Charities to play a big part in the response to the pandemic. And to be supported to survive.

“Right now, many charities are making a real difference in our communities,” they write” This work could be more actively acknowledged by political leaders and policy makers. If Australia is to respond well to this pandemic, working together, acknowledging our collaborative achievements will help build community resilience. Charities are a good news story that can help build a sense of belonging, of trust, of being prepared to give to others and support each other.” Costello and Crosbie have set up a National Cabinet for Charities.

“The truth is the virus is, indiscriminate.” – Tim Costello

Costello warmly welcomed the $200 million allocated by the Federal Government, but made it clear that much more would be needed. As he spoke, the offer to subsidise wages was still on the offing, and as the PM has extended it to non-profits, a which key demand Crosbie raised in their letter.

Costello urged charity leaders to raise where other gaps are, so that the National Cabinet can be lobbied. Even in the US, charities are being taken account of as governments announce funding packages –  “the whole world has become socialist” he wryly observed.

But the local level something profound has happened. “The boundaries are fallen. The charitable response from all of us has been awakened That is something we need to uphold.” The old model of Australians giving and charities doing the work has been overtaken as local responses to need multiply.

The charities need to work out how to place their experience in meeting need alongside that,

Personally Costello says the last few weeks have been “a series of small losses daily coffee, reading the paper in my  coffee shop. And some much bigger ones. I can’t visit my 91- year-old mother as her home is locked down.” He quickly pivots to news from his contacts overseas.

“My friends in India saying, because they’re going to lock down on the state borders, to get home  you’re walking 400 kilometres. You can’t social distance yourself. Friends in Syria saying, ‘wash our hands every hour?’ We can’t wash our children once a week.

“Ive been alerted to the fact that I am absolutely blessed. Most of us are. My 70 year old friends just in my street are now locked in their house. They’re not leaving. And then thinking of indigenous, where are the health issues are much bleaker at 50.”

“The truth is the virus is, indiscriminate. Boris Johnson, Tom Hanks. No one’s superior. No one’s down there. Humans always have a need to tell a story about why I’m superior to someone. By post code or gender. And none of them actually are.

“I think an equity question then says there will be profoundly different ways in how those with Covid-19 get access to certain resources, That’s where I’m thinking of indigenous Australia.”

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Costello calls for local charitable action, as well as larger scale responses. What is happening in your town or suburb?

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