Regulation of charities in South Australia

Charities registered with the ACNC have ongoing obligations under the ACNC Act. A charity may also have obligations to other Commonwealth, state or local government agencies.

Obligations to the ACNC

If a charity is registered with the ACNC, it has ongoing obligations to maintain registration, including to:

Obligations to other government agencies

A charity may have obligations to and receive benefits from other Commonwealth, state or local government agencies in addition to the ACNC. These may include obligations or benefits related to:

  • its legal structure (for example, as an incorporated association)
  • how it raises money (for example, if it runs raffles or street collections)
  • the exemptions, concessions or other benefits it may receive from government (for example, certain Commonwealth, state and local government taxes) and
  • what it does (which may apply to specific sectors such as aged care, housing, childcare and education).

Some charities also choose to meet voluntary standards set by professional associations or peak bodies such as codes of conduct or codes of ethical practice.

Charities do not have to be registered with the ACNC to be an incorporated association, cooperative or other legal structure, to access SA tax concessions or other benefits, or to fundraise in SA.

Legal structures

There are several types of legal structures used by charities. Different obligations apply to each type. A charity's legal structure may affect:

  • its reporting and governance requirements to the government agency that incorporated it
  • its ability to operate outside SA without further registration
  • its eligibility for certain tax concessions.

The types listed here are examples of the most common legal structures, but there are others (such as trusts and unincorporated associations).

Incorporated associations

Some charities in SA are incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 .These are called 'incorporated associations' and have 'Inc.' or 'Incorporated' at the end of their name.

Incorporated associations have a number of responsibilities such as keeping appropriate financial records, following their rules and holding annual general meetings. These responsibilities are regulated in SA by Consumer and Business Services.

To find out more, visit the Consumer and Business Services website or call 131 882.

Changes to incorporated association reporting

In 2016, legislation was passed which made charities that are incorporated associations exempt from reporting to Consumer and Business Services. They only need to report annually to the ACNC via the Annual Information Statement.

Reporting changes for South Australian charities

From 1 December 2016, South Australian charities that are registered with the ACNC and hold a Collections for Charitable Purposes Licence no longer need to report annually to CBS. Instead, these charities will only need to report to the ACNC and comply with the ACNC’s regulatory requirements.

This change will apply for a charity once its current licence expires. To take advantage of this improved reporting process, charities need to notify CBS by visiting cbs.sa.gov.au/charities.

From 1 January 2017, Prescribed Associations in South Australia that are registered with the ACNC no longer need to report annually to CBS. Instead, these charities will only need to report to the ACNC and comply with the ACNC’s regulatory requirements.

The change will apply after the last financial year the charity was prescribed, starting in the 2017 or 2018 financial year. CBS has published a fact sheet and page of Frequently Asked Questions on its website with more information about the changes.

Financial reporting transitional period

Where South Australian charities were previously required to provide financial reports to CBS because they were a prescribed association or holders of a Collections for Charitable Purposes Licence, the ACNC accepted those financial reports as meeting ACNC requirements.

However, as a result of the changes, ACNC-registered South Australian charities that are medium or large will need to ensure that the financial reports they provide to the ACNC meet all the ACNC reporting requirements.

Medium and large charities must prepare financial reports under the Australian Accounting Standards that provide a true and fair view, report on an accrual basis and ensure statements include required comparative figures.

To support charities whose reports do not currently meet these standards, the ACNC has established a two-year transitional reporting arrangement. This will help charities adjust to their new reporting requirements.

The specific arrangements for the 2017 and later years are as follows:

SA transitional reporting arrangements?

Relevant Reporting period

Specific arrangement

First year

Yes

2017 reporting period (or 2018 for charities that submit a 2017 periodic return with CBS)

If the charity is a medium or large charity and is a non-reporting entity that prepares a special purpose financial statement for the 2017 reporting period, it can submit the same financial report that previously met the South Australian requirements.

Charities will not be penalised for providing audited statements where the auditor does not meet ACNC requirements.

Second Year

Yes

2018 reporting period (or 2019 for charities that submit a 2017 periodic return with CBS)

If the charity is a medium or large charity that:
the charity will need to prepare a full financial report meeting ACNC reporting requirements for special purpose financial statements. However, it will not need to provide 2017 comparative information in the 2018 financial report.

The financial report must:
  • provide a narrative as to why there is no 2017 comparative information, and 
  • ensure adequate disclosures are made in the notes to the financial statements. 
Example disclosure: comparative information not included in financial report.

Charities will not be penalised for providing audited statements where the auditor does not meet ACNC requirements.

Third year

No

2019 reporting period (or later for charities that were required to submit a 2017 periodic return with CBS)

Medium and large charities that are no longer required to report to CBS must use accrual accounting when preparing their financial statements and ensure the financial statements meet all the ACNC reporting requirements, including comparative requirements.

Audit requirements during transitional period

Audit/review requirements for ACNC-registered charities are as follows:

  • Small charities (revenue of less than $250,000) no longer need to submit audited financial reports. However, they must continue to report annually to the ACNC using the Annual Information statement.
  • Medium charities (revenue of $250,000 to $999,999) are required to submit financial reports that have been reviewed or audited.
  • Large charities (revenue of $1 million or more) are required to have their financial reports audited and submit the financial report and auditor’s report to the ACNC.

Reviews for medium sized charities can be done by:

  • a registered company auditor
  • an audit firm
  • an authorised audit company
  • a current member of a relevant professional body, CPA Australia – CPAA (CPA or FCPA designation), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand – CAANZ (CA or FCA designation) or Institute of Public Accountants – IPA (FIPA or MIPA designation).

Audits must be conducted by:

  • a registered company auditor, or
  • an audit firm, or
  • an authorised audit company

During the transitional period, charities will not be penalised for providing audited statements that do not meet the ACNC requirements.

What happens is a charity doesn’t report to ACNC, or is late with their Annual Information Statement?

The ACNC will provide quarterly updates to Consumer and Business Services so that they can monitor compliance and identify those charities which, due to non-compliance, are no longer exempt from state reporting.
If an incorporated association registered as a charity with the ACNC does not submit the Annual Information

Statement on time, it will need to report to Consumer and Business Services separately, and may attract a late penalty.

What didn’t change?

Other obligations your charity has to Consumer and Business Services did not change.
Charities may need to notify Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading of changes to their:

  • Address for service
  • Public Officer
  • Name or
  • Rules.

Charities also need to notify ACNC of these changes.

There is more information about the changes on the ACNC website and the Consumer and Business Services website.

Cooperatives

A cooperative is a type of organisation that is owned, controlled and used by its members. There are different types of cooperatives.

Charities that are cooperatives are also regulated by the Consumer and Business Services.

To find out more, visit the SA Government website or call 131 882.

Other legal structures

Information about reporting and other obligations for charities set up with other legal structures is available on these pages:

Fundraising

Fundraising in SA is regulated by Consumer and Business Services.

Consumer and Business Services is responsible for registering and regulating organisations conducting fundraising activities, and licensing charities for fundraising through raffles and lotteries. To find out more, visit the Consumer and Business Services website or call 131 882.

Changes to fundraising reporting

In 2016, legislation was passed in SA which made charities exempt from fundraising reporting and licensing.

Charities are required to notify if they intend to fundraise in SA (which can be done using the ACNC Charity Portal), and must abide by a code of conduct.

What didn’t change?

Charities fundraising in SA must still abide by the Charities Code of Practice.

For more information about fundraising, see Fundraising in SA.

State taxes

Charities that operate in SA may also be eligible to receive concessions on some state taxes, including payroll tax, land tax and stamp duty from Revenue SA.

To find out more, visit the Revenue SA website.

Local government

Some local government authorities may offer concessions to charities. For more information, contact the local government authority in the areas where the charity operates.

You can search a directory of local government authorities in SA on the website of the Local Government Association of South Australia.

Other general obligations

There are a number of other laws that affect charities in SA covering areas such as employment, trading, occupational health and safety and anti-discrimination. For example, charities are obliged to meet obligations under the Work Health and Safety Act 2012.

Some charities may have responsibilities that are specific to their area of work. For example, charities that provide aged care services may need to meet other obligations or hold accreditations as part of working in this field.

Related information

A list of other regulators, including contact details, that may affect charities.

Attention - Important information! Please note: this fact sheet is an overview of laws and regulations affecting charities in SA, not a complete guide. For more information about laws and regulations in the SA, please consult the relevant regulatory agencies.

Contact the ACNC

Phone: 13 ACNC (13 22 62)
Email: advice@acnc.gov.au
Mail: Advice Services, Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, GPO Box 5108, Melbourne VIC 3001
Fax: 1300 232 569


 

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