Commissioner’s Column – 17 May 2018

This week my colleague David Locke announced that the ACNC has taken compliance action against two RSL charities – RSL New South Wales and RSL LifeCare, following separate investigations into the charities’ activities and operations.

Both charities have now agreed to enforceable undertakings, designed to address the significant governance failures identified.

The ACNC’s investigations commenced in 2016, and remained open to ensure the findings of the NSW State Government’s Bergin Inquiry were incorporated.

To maintain their registration as charities with the ACNC, RSL New South Wales and RSL LifeCare will now be required to demonstrate improved governance. Their enforceable undertakings outline specific requirements and timeframes which the organisations must meet.

Our media release has more information, including links to summaries of both enforceable undertakings.

Discussing the importance of data at the Television Education Network’s 6th Annual Not for Profits & Charities Regulatory Conference

It was my pleasure to deliver the keynote address at last week’s 6th Annual Not for Profits & Charities Regulatory Conference, hosted by the Television Education Network in Melbourne.

In my speech, I elaborated on the priorities of the ACNC over my tenure as Commissioner, and spoke about our plans to make the data already collected by the ACNC more accessible and available to charities, professionals, volunteers and donors.

I also discussed the importance of trust in the charity sector in Australia, and how the ACNC is working to build public trust and confidence in our charities.

My speech is available to read on the ACNC website.

Celebrating Australia’s volunteers in National Volunteer Week

Next week is National Volunteer Week, the annual celebration acknowledging the generous contributions of volunteers across Australia.

The Australian Charities Report 2016 found that registered charities benefit from the expertise and generosity of almost 3 million volunteers – particularly the 50% of charities that are solely run by volunteers.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Australia’s many volunteers, who operate and support registered charities. You make such a profound impact on your community.

More information about National Volunteer Week is available on the Volunteering Australia website.

ACNC boosts money laundering and terrorism financing intelligence

The Australian Senate recently passed legislation which includes the ACNC in the list of designated agencies in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006. 

This will allow the ACNC to have direct access to AUSTRAC information, which provides a rich source of intelligence in relation to terrorism financing and money laundering risks in the not-for-profit sector.

We have already seen the benefits of shared projects between the ACNC and AUSTRAC, after the 2017 launch of the ACNC-AUSTRAC risk assessment of Australia’s not-for-profit sector. The risk assessment is available on the ACNC website.

The ACNC’s addition to the designated agencies list will allow us to more closely work with AUSTRAC and other relevant organisations, to share information and investigate areas of concern.

AICD open consultation on governance principles review

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) is seeking feedback on its review of the ‘Good governance principles and guidance for not-for-profit organisations’.

First released in 2013, the document sets out 10 fundamental principles of good governance, specifically for not-for-profit organisations. The AICD is now seeking to update the Principles, to reflect the new challenges and opportunities across the not-for-profit sector.

The AICD has released a consultation white paper which provides some background into the Principles and outlines the proposed revisions. All interested parties are invited to provide their thoughts and feedback on the suggested updates, with written submissions closing on Monday 18 June 2018.

Visit the AICD website for more information on the proposed changes.

Scholarship applications open for not-for-profit leaders

The Australian Scholarships Foundation have opened applications for the Fulbright Professional Scholarship in Non-Profit Leadership, an opportunity for leaders committed to advancing social justice and community development. I was fortunate to be a Fulbright winner in 2001 and spent some valuable time in Washington DC.

The scholarship allows the successful candidate to undertake research or personal development relevant to the not-for-profit sector, to the value of $30,000.

Applications close 15 July 2018.

For more information or to apply, visit the Australian Scholarships Foundation website.

ASIC Industry Funding Levies Consultation

Around 10% of registered charities are not-for-profit companies limited by guarantee. Prior to the establishment of the ACNC in December 2012, ASIC was the primary Commonwealth regulator of these organisations.

The Treasury are consulting on changes to the funding levies imposed by ASIC, and we have made a submission that argues registered charities should not be required to pay the annual fee. We feel that an ASIC-imposed levy on charities would be inappropriate, as any fee would be disproportionate to the level of regulation ASIC has over charities that are companies limited by guarantee.

You can read our submission here.

2018-19 Federal Budget

Last week, the Federal Treasurer the Hon Scott Morrison MP, delivered the 2018-19 Federal Budget.

In addition to receiving the expected budget to continue the core business of the ACNC, we also received funding for three separate initiatives over the coming years.

You can read our latest news from last week that explains our 2018-19 Budget allocation here. And the complete 2018-19 Federal Budget is available at budget.gov.au.

Best Wishes

The Hon Dr Gary Johns

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