Key words: sustainable livelihoods, sustainable resource management, poverty eradication, human resources, volunteer non-profit organizations.
The long-term objective in enabling all people to achieve sustainable livelihoods was an integrated factor in combating poverty according to the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda of 1992 (UNSDA) and so recommended that government policies address issues of ‘development, sustainable resource management and poverty eradication simultaneously’. With language used like; ‘poverty eradication’, one must question what this actually means? and sustainable resource management? Because in the human development policies that are recommended by the G20 in the UNSDA (1992) is coming to fruition within government policies and actions, all over the world. One of these policies include so called sustainable livelihood policies that basically amount to lower wages, and the so called ‘income generation’ is the opening up, or sale of mineral rich Nature Reserves. The increases in local control over resources, is the introduction of the Trans-Pacific Partnerships (TPP) that are deals made between governments and investors that are designed to strengthen local institutions and create greater involvement of non-profit organizations and the delivery mechanisms by local levels of government (UNSDA, 1992). This means they provide funding to non-profit organizations and local government that will appear to be there for the protection of resources, but are in fact preparing for the resources to be placed into corporate hands. That will in effect use so called volunteers that are long term unemployed or minor offenders of some sort, or just can’t get a job, because there are ‘no’ jobs. So the jobless become volunteers for the non-profit organizations in order to collect unemployment benefits. Therefore these volunteers are actually job seekers being placed into below minimum wage jobs. So the purpose of this article is to analyze the role of non-profit organizations and the impacts that volunteer organizations have on sustainable livelihoods. The question is asked; does volunteering non-profit organizations degrade and deplete paid employment? Is our government, by supporting non-profit organizations in funding programs that encourage volunteering; actually developing a free workforce that leaves our payed workforce scrounging for a minimal income. Is this a tactic that screens out small business that will ultimately leave us with greater unemployment and or does what is described as sustainable livelihood, actually mean slave labor?
In a report commissioned by the Department of Planning and Community Development Duncan Ironmonger (2012), states that by adding organized, unorganized and travel volunteer time together, it was worth $7.1 billion to the Victorian economy in 1992 alone and by 2006 it had risen to a staggering $16.4 billion. So in economic terms it makes sense to pay an organization rather than pay a whole workforce with all benefits attached. The fact that this report was undertaken around the same time as the United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda of 1992 (UNSDA) is important to note as evidence of strategy development.
If volunteer organizations can promote and encourage people in the community to work for nothing, then it would be far cheaper to pay that organization enough to implement programs that would be seen as voluntary work programs that may for example, lead people to believe that volunteering will lead to payed work. Though most people in these volunteer positions later become disheartened and disillusioned because there will never be enough payed work. In more recent times the odds have become much less because governments have forced young people and disabled people on benefits into volunteering to collect unemployment benefits or disability allowances, school children in new vocational training programs, elderly in carer roles, fire fighters and paramedics, the list goes on. The other problem we have is a prison workforce and out sourcing cheap labor from other countries. How will anyone be employed unless one is to be on the payroll of a non-profit organization or corporation? A non-profit organization CEO receives based on a medium salary of $100,000 with bonus’s $25,000 (Payscale, 2014). So one must determine the motives of governments in support of non-profit organizations and what is labeled sustainable livelihoods.
By leading non-profit organizations to believe that their organization is moralistic in nature, whether it is an environmental organization or teaching children so called life skills, that organization will work passionately to reach a moral high ground that leads the public to believe that their organization is worthwhile, though many do little more than show enough participation in order to receive the next round of funding, and governments are happy because they may be seen as working on public or social issues and can say how much they have spent on these issues that arise at the next election while collecting huge salaries; and work the public into thinking volunteer work is a noble and just occupation, but what about those working in these programs, they continue to receive unemployment benefits or pensions and have little scope for permanent payed employment or quality education. They are also taking what should be payed employment. Say for example an entrepreneurial individual had a business in maintenance and gardening and hired four people that would otherwise be unemployed because they have low skills. The business person gives a quote for a large job that will employ his four workers at minimum wages, but a non-profit organization that is given funding in order to teach people on unemployment benefits some so called skill, and makes themselves available for the same job, but for the cost of one person’s wage, that being the work for the dole supervisor. This has effectively put the business man and his employees out of work and kept those working for the dole doing just that. There are no gains here for the public just loses. One might argue that the work for the dole participants are gaining skills, but they are not because the skills are so minimal that the business employer could have done the same, as well as continued their employment on other jobs.
This tactic does however gain control of local human resources and strengthen local institutions that implement the so called sustainable livelihoods that was recommended, in Human development policies. That is said to generate income for greater involvement of non-profit organizations, and delivery mechanisms by local levels of government. ‘This is considered to be an investment in human capital, with policies and programs directed at rural areas, the urban poor, women and children’. (UNSDA, 1992). So in focusing on projects that people are passionate about, justifies the role of the non-profit organizations which develops programs that help local governments negotiate deals on human capital and environmental resources.
Ironmonger, Duncan (2012) The Economic Value of Volunteering in Victoria. State Government Victoria. Households Research Unit of Volunteering in Victoria.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Non-Profit Organization Salary (Australia)
Author unknown (1992). Combating poverty: United Nations Sustainable Development. United Nations Conference on Environment & Development Rio de Janerio, Brazil. Agenda 21-Chapter 3.
New Start Allowance Department. http://www.humanservices.gov.au/customer/services/centrelink/newstart-allowance Retrieved 21st of November 2014.