Northern Territory Council of Social Service

NTCOSS CEO Deborah Di Natale speaks to Katie Woolf on Mix 104.9 about the 2020/21 NT Budget

Deborah Di Natale CEO NTCOSS spoke to Katie Woolf on Mix 104.9 about the 2020/21 NT Budget.


They discussed how the Government missed the opportunity to deliver economic stimulus that has lasting benefit, by not investing in social housing.


The NT has 12 times the national average rate of homelessness, with about 13,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night. Social housing construction could have helped the Territory’s economy, created jobs, and built homes for those who need it most.



Katie Woolf Mix 104.9 Darwin : We are now going to head across and catch up with the CEO of NTCOSS.

And joining me on the line is Deborah Di Natale. Good morning to you, Deborah.

Deborah Di Natale CEO NTCOSS : Good morning, Katie.

Katie Woolf : Now, obviously, we’ve spoken to quite a few industry leaders this morning when we talk about the private investment, Deborah, from your perspective from the Northern Territory Council of Social Service. How was that budget yesterday?

Deborah Di Natale : Look, I think we have to be fair that we’ve come out of budget repair; we’ve had COVID; we’ve had a GST drop. So nobody was expecting to get any huge wins out of this budget. In terms of the, you’re right talking about small business and there was a whole lot of goodies there.

What we do know is that in terms of talking about, I’m sure you’ve heard the Chief talking about the Territory being the comeback capital, we often need to remind people that in the NT the not-for-profit sector brings $3.26 billion dollars a year into the economy. We employ more people than mining. So the Territory can’t be the comeback capital without the community sector. It was good to say our funding maintained. We would have liked to have seen a huge amount of investment in some of the social policies that the government has created.

Katie Woolf : Deborah, what areas do you reckon we could have seen some investment in, when you talk about that social policy,

Deborah Di Natale : So we could have seen some investment, particularly in social housing. I mean, that’s just a win win for the government. You’ve got economic stimulus in terms of construction and you’re providing a great social outcome for people who need it.

We also know in the Territory you are 12 times more likely to be homeless if you live in the Northern Territory than any other part of Australia. So that, in my mind, is a key missed opportunity.

Katie Woolf : I guess, you know, some listening will think about do we have the money to be able to do that at the moment?

Deborah Di Natale : Well, I guess that’s why the that’s the policy area that is the smartest thing for the government to invest.

Because when you say ‘do we have the money’ it actually creates money because you’ve got increased employment, you’ve got a construction industry that’s booming, and that in and of itself will enable the Territory to generate an income while providing a social outcome.

Katie Woolf : And Deborah are there areas where, you know, where you where you felt as though the Government really missed the mark.

Deborah Di Natale : I’m sure there are lots of people who would have liked to have seen money in a whole host of areas.

We, of course, in terms of where this Government has gone with social policy, have been really impressed with the policy, but they will not come to fruition unless we get some investment in those areas.

The Aboriginal Justice Agreement is a clear one. We were really pleased to hear the Chief Minister this morning talking about the fact that we need to do a lot of work in terms of closing the gap.

And this agreement gives us a map and a way forward, and we need it to be funded in order to get some good outcomes for some of the most vulnerable communities.

Katie Woolf : Deborah, we are going to have to get ready to wrap up. But is I mean, is there anything else you’d like our listeners to be aware of from your perspective, obviously, from the social services area?

Deborah Di Natale : Yeah, I guess I’d just like your listeners to be aware that in terms of the not-for-profit sector, we generate a significant proportion of that money ourselves. So we’re both a generator in the economy while we’re also providing a good service, because there’s often this misconception that we just get money from government. But that, in fact, is inaccurate, we’re raising our own money.

Katie Woolf : But I think it’s really good for us to get your perspective this morning as well. I really appreciate you taking the time to have a chat with me.

Deborah Di Natale : I really appreciate you having us Katie.

Katie Woolf: Deborah Di Natale always good to speak with you, NTCOSS CEO.