The Missing Piece – A call for longer-term,
sustainable funding for social services.

It’s time to stop ‘panic funding’ relationship crisis services.

Announcing our new campaign for 10-year funding contracts.


Relationships Australia NSW is heavily impacted by the short-term nature of funding contracts, which in turn impacts the people we serve and our workforce who provide the services. Short-term “panic funding” for social services organisations means we can’t plan services, people in crisis can’t be guaranteed help, and it’s impossible to keep trained staff in the sector. We’re not alone in this challenge, which is endemic to the social services sector. Of all the new NSW grants since June 2021, 82% are for two years or less, and we desperately need to turn this situation around.


This is why, with 150 days until the NSW election, we’re launching The Missing Piece – a campaign calling for bi-partisan support from the NSW Parliament to move towards sustainable, long-term funding arrangements for counselling and relationship services.

The issues

This short-termism of this funding is affecting Relationships Australia NSW and the wider sector in a number of ways:

  • Impact on service delivery and staff retention: Short-term contracts mean uncertainty for the workforce which results in high staff turnover. It costs around $20,000 to onboard a new staff member, and an additional $14,000 to deliver specialist training for certain programs.
  • Funding cannot keep up with service demand: Demand is far outstripping supply, with waitlists growing and no additional funding to support it.
  • Funding is focused on crisis services: Crisis services are important, but we need to support early intervention services to prevent people reaching crisis point in the first place.
  • Lack of flexibility and outcomes data: Contracts are often too rigid, not allowing for adaptation to changing circumstances. Data on impact and outcomes is also scant and could inform contract flexibility.

Of all the new funding grants from NSW Government since June 2021, 82% are for two years or less. The trend is towards shorter contracts and we need to turn this situation around.


The proposed solutions

We’re calling on the NSW Government and Opposition to commit to the following four recommendations in the lead-up to the election:

  1. Introduce a 10-year funding structure for government contracts in the social services sector, broken down into five-year allocations which go beyond political cycles and the NSW Budget Forward Estimates
  2. Provide an additional stream of funding specifically for evidence-based research to be conducted to assess the impacts and outcomes of government-funded programs
  3. Embed provisions into contracts to improve flexibility, allowing them to transparently evolve where required to best service communities
  4. Conduct state-wide, place-based service mapping to understand the gaps in service delivery, so communities aren’t cut off from the support they need.

Download the briefing paper

We acknowledge the good work the NSW Government has done to invest in domestic violence prevention and counselling services. We also acknowledge the NSW Government’s input on the 10 Year National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children. However, in our view, the missing piece is that the plan needs to be supported with a 10-year budget and 10-year funding contracts.

Please see below a briefing paper which outlines this issue in greater detail, along with a case study, data, and more detail on our four recommendations.

We are seeking bi-partisan support from both the NSW Coalition and the NSW Opposition on the four recommendations outlined in this Paper.


Key contacts

Elisabeth Shaw

Relationships Australia NSW
Ph: 0423 229 267

Kerrie McFadden

General Manager Government Relations
Relationships Australia NSW
Ph: 0423 553 602

Billy Briggs

Senior Consultant
Australian Public Affairs
Ph: 0474 697 235

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