18 March 2020

One of the world’s leading anti-cancer campaigners and behavioural researchers has called on the Morrison Government to ensure charities are supported in the next round of economic measures in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Cancer Leader and Union for International Cancer Control Board Member, Professor Jeff Dunn AO, said charities were being hit hard by the impacts of Coronavirus on the community.

Professor Dunn, who is also CEO of Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, warned many non-profits would go under without government support.

“The world is facing a situation unlike anything we have seen in our lifetime. Like all Australians, we are concerned about the escalating impacts of COVID-19 on the community,” he said.

“Beyond the sudden and tragic loss of life, the economic and social impacts will have far-reaching implications for all of us, imposing additional hardship on the significant number of families in our community who are also facing cancer, chronic disease, illness, and disadvantage.

“They need us now more than ever. We stand ready to support them – but we cannot do that without a lifeline from Government.”

Prof Dunn said men affected by prostate cancer are especially vulnerable to viral illnesses like COVID-19.

“Many men affected by prostate cancer have weakened immune systems and are less able to cope with a disease as aggressive as this. Their families will be at a higher than average risk distress and possible hardship, with treatment plans changing daily and exacerbating patient anxiety.

“We have written to the Prime Minister calling for an Economic Response Plan for the Non-Profit Sector, with nearly 1 million Australians employed by registered charities.”

“We have suggested an Economic Response Plan could comprise the following initiatives:

  1. An NFP Employment Protection Provision to provide non-profit employers with a percentage-based or lump sum payment to offset salary costs and safeguard jobs.
  2. A Corporate Giving Tax Offset for companies who donate to registered charities, with donation and offset thresholds to incentivise contributions from small, medium, and large enterprises.
  3. A temporary Bonus Charity Tax Deduction incentive for individual taxpayers, providing a 150 per cent tax deduction on donations before June 30, 2020. Different donation values and deduction thresholds should be set to encourage higher-value donations from those in higher income brackets.
  4. A Digital Innovation Rebate Scheme to fund the costs of new digital and web-based innovations designed to provide community services and programs online or otherwise deliver community benefit using digital means.
  5. An NFP Futures Fund managed by an independent agency of the Australian Government, offering registered charities the opportunity to invest any funding reserves in a publicly-managed fund for a slightly higher rate of return than sharemarket dividends and bank deposits.
  6. A Research Investment Offset for registered charities who fund Australian-based clinical or social research for broad public benefit. If there was ever a reminder of the important role that research plays in our lives, this is it.

 “The health and wellbeing of Australians stands on the shoulders of charities like ours. We urgently need the Government to demonstrate its leadership on this.”

Read our letter to the Prime Minister here and check out the story in the Australian Financial Review.