Media Release

October 26, 2009

Melbourne community groups are feeling the heat of the economic crisis, according to the first survey of the health of the community sector.

The Community Confidence Index, pioneered by Our Community and Leader Community Newspapers, surveyed more than 200 community groups across Melbourne, finding that 17.2 per cent were either struggling to cope or failing. Alarmingly, the majority of the struggling organisations were more than 10 years old.

The survey reveals that the Federal Government's stimulus package appears to have had a positive impact on many clients the community groups serve: 33 per cent of respondents thought the stimulus had a positive effect, while only 25 per cent thought it had no effect.

The survey was launched in Footscray Community Arts Centre on Monday. Released annually, the Community Confidence Index will monitor how Melbourne community groups, and their local communities, are faring. The three pressing problems identified in the inaugural survey were:

  • lack of community cohesion
  • people's lack of free time and
  • the weakness of the economy.

The survey, which was held online earlier this year, brings together Our Community, which supports Australia's 700,000 community groups, and Leader Community Newspapers in a unique partnership.

Our Community chief operating officer Denis Moriarty said the results of the survey confirmed that community groups were grappling with the double whammy of a rise in demand for support services (as identified by a quarter of respondents), and fewer donations (identified by a third of the survey groups).

"Like business and individuals, community groups are struggling, but those with strong supporter bases - dedicated members and donors and volunteers and staff - will survive and continue to be the glue that binds together the community," Mr Moriarty said.

Leader group news editor Nick Richardson said the Index provided a valuable new tool to help keep in touch with what was happening in the community. He forecast that it would become a regular feature of community debate.

"These results show that our community groups are tapped in to the issues and challenges that are confronting many of us, and are not immune to their own pressures," he said.

Survey Results:

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