The winds of political change are blowing: What the New South Wales and Federal elections could mean for the for-purpose sector

With a New South Wales election scheduled for 23rd March 2019 and a federal election required before May of this year, the winds of political change are blowing. This is of major significance to the for-purpose sector as government is critical to providing services, building coalitions and partnerships, and realising system change. Furthermore, effectively engaging government can increase funding, enact policy and legislative change and raise the profile of an organisation or issue. Given our sector’s interaction and (at times) dependence on government, we’ve outlined our predictions for the two upcoming elections and specified what this could mean for the for-purpose sector.

About the author: Neil has twice been a major party candidate in marginal seats, and was national Chair for seven years for a peak political equality group, securing multiple legislative and regulatory changes. More recently, his work has spanned the health, technology and social sectors to improve capabilities and capacity to engage with government. 

New South Wales…

At this point in time, we’re keeping an especially close eye on the New South Wales election because it is too close to call and easily could go either way. With that in mind, we’ve jotted down our predicted impact for the for-purpose sector under both scenarios.

…with continued Liberal leadership

  • The current arrangement for Social Impact Bonds is likely to continue if the Liberals retain their leadership position. Should this occur, the question it raises for our sector is how to leverage the opportunity by effectively playing into that space.
  • Another trend that is likely to continue is the ongoing removal of advocacy funding. This will force organisations who are relying on government financial support of this nature to look at new ways of delivering value and ensuring their own sustainability.
  • Lastly and this is a big one folks, we predict that the Liberal party in New South Wales will wrestle with whether to stay fairly centrist or become more socially conservative. This, in turn, could have major ripple effects for policy, funding, service delivery and more.

…or Labour at the helm

  • There is a fair chance that the newly elected progressive Victorian government is joined by Labor leadership in New South Wales. If this is the case, the New South Wales Government will likely be guided by their Victorian counterparts in terms of investment and policy initiatives.
  • Taking the opposite stance to the Liberal party, Labor leadership would significantly shrink Social Impact Bonds and re-position them as an experimental trial framework. Under this approach, successful projects could potentially be scaled with government support or even management. This presents an opportunity for the sector to advocate for the continuation of Social Impact Bonds, should it feel so inclined.
  • Our third point here is that charities, social enterprises and philanthropy will have more of a voice under Labor; if this eventuates, what does the sector wish to do with this opportunity?

Our federal forecast

The polls predict a Labor win unless there is a major unexpected event, bringing significant investment to the ACNC and the growth of the social sector. Changes could include new reporting within a national framework, the rollout of Australia-wide fundraising licenses, release of gag clauses and new campaign and advocacy opportunities both internationally and domestically. Drawing on what’s happening in Victoria, there will likely be priority foci e.g. around domestic and family violence, and mental health. This could result in commissions or major funding opportunities.

We’ve got our crystal ball out and we’d love to hear what yours is telling you! So, drop us a line to with what you predict for the New South Wales and federal elections, and the implications for those working to advance positive social and environmental change.

P.S. We also have a free whitepaper on how not-for-profits can achieve better impact by embedding government engagement capability. It’s available here.


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