Withhold information from the ACNC Register
Attention:You need to know! Apply to withhold specific information from the ACNC Register through the Charity Portal.
Information you can apply to be withheld
You can ask the ACNC to withhold (exclude) details about your charity or the names and positions of responsible people from the public ACNC Register.
Attention - Important information!When you apply to have the Annual Information Statement withheld, this does not include the financial report, other financial documents or your governing document attached in the Annual Information Statement. You need to apply to withhold each document separately.
Information you can apply to have withheld:
- Legal name
- Other name(s)
- Address for service
- Charity street address
- Charity phone number
- Charity email address
For all of the above pieces of information, if you apply to have one or more of them withheld from the ACNC Register, they will not automatically be withheld from the 2014 and future Annual Information Statements which appear as a PDF document on the Register.
- Responsible persons’ name and position
For all charities only the name and position of each responsible person will be published on the ACNC Register (for example: John Smith, Director). The ACNC will not publish the contact details or date of birth of any responsible person of your charity (such as a board or committee member, or trustee) on the ACNC Register. You do not need to apply to have the contact details or date of birth of the responsible persons withheld from the Register.
- Annual Information Statement
From 2014 onwards the Annual Information Statement includes financial information questions. If you ask for your Annual Information Statement to be withheld because of these questions, do you also need to apply to withhold your financial report and/or other financial documents?
When supplying the ACNC with the charity’s governing documents, you are able to upload two versions: one complete document and one document with any personal information (such as names) blanked out. You can do this via the charity portal without applying to withhold information. The ACNC will contact you if it considers that some or all of the blanked out information should be published.
When you apply to have your financial report withheld this does not include the financial information questions in the Annual Information Statement. Do you also need to apply to have your Annual Information Statement withheld?
- Other financial document (such as a review or audit report)
Reasons for information to be withheld
For each specific piece of information you want withheld you need to choose the reason from the drop-down list in the registration form or Charity Portal and explain why that reason applies to your charity’s situation. We can only withhold information for the reasons given in the drop-down list, and also (for most of them) only if the likely harm caused by publishing the information is greater than the public interest in publishing it.
Reasons to withhold information from the Register include:
- publishing the information could endanger public safety
- the information is commercially sensitive and publishing it could cause harm to the charity or a person
- the information is inaccurate, or likely to confuse or mislead, or
- the information is offensive.
Private ancillary funds
Additional reasons to withhold information from the Register include:
- this information is likely to identify an individual donor, or
- publishing contact details would create an unreasonable administrative burden for your charity.
Case study: Her Shelter
Reason to withhold information
Her Shelter (VIC) is a charity that provides crisis accommodation and therapeutic support for women and children escaping domestic and family violence in Victoria. The Her Shelter board met to discuss the potential risk of harm to clients or staff if their street address is published on the ACNC Register. They decide to apply to the ACNC to withhold this information on the grounds that it could endanger public safety.
The ACNC’s decision
The ACNC reviews the application and decides that publishing the street address of the shelter could endanger the lives of the clients and staff and there is no overriding public interest in making that information available to the public. The information is withheld.
Case study: Highlands
Reason to withhold information
Highlands is a community church that also runs a community pre-school. They have two subtypes – advancing religion and advancing education. They are medium in size and are required to submit a reviewed financial report with their Annual Information Statement this year. The governing committee met and discussed how they have never had to publicly disclose their financial information before and believe it is commercially sensitive and publication of this information could cause the charity harm. They decide to apply to the ACNC to have their financial report and the Annual Information Statement withheld because it will contain financial information questions. With the application to withhold information, they submit their complete financial report for the ACNC to review.
The ACNC’s decision
The highlands governing committee provides no specific information as to why individual entries in the financial report are commercially sensitive. Nor does information in the financial report identify individual unit costs for any items Highlands sells, the individual salaries of employees, private donors names or the ($) amounts of individual grants received. The ACNC reviews the application and the financial report and decides it is not commercially sensitive. The ACNC also determines that there is no information provided in the 2014 AIS that is commercially sensitive as all the information is grouped. The ACNC contacts the governing committee via email to inform them that the financial report and Annual Information Statement will not be withheld from the ACNC Register and the reasons for its decision. The ACNC continues to withhold the financial report and Annual Information Statement for 60 days, providing Highlands with the opportunity to appeal the decision. After the 60 days if Highlands does not appeal the decision, the financial report and Annual Information Statement automatically appear on the ACNC Register.
- Apply through the Charity Portal
If there is information you believe you are entitled to have withheld from the ACNC Register, you need to apply during your registration as a charity, or before you update charity details on the portal or submit your charity’s Annual Information Statement.
- Continue reporting and updating charity details through the Charity Portal
You should continue to report and update details immediately after you submit your application to withhold information. We will withhold that information until we make a decision.
- The ACNC make a decision
The ACNC will make a decision on all applications for information to be withheld. When you apply, the ACNC will automatically withhold your entire charity record or the relevant information until a decision is made. If we do not agree with your application, we will not publish the information on the ACNC Register before contacting you about your options, including your right to seek a review of our decision or discontinue your registration application.
If we approve your application to withhold information, you will be sent a notice of outcome detailing what we have approved to withhold and why.
- Future reports and updates
Generally, if we have approved an application to withhold information, including the Annual Information Statement, you do not need to reapply each year. That specific information will remain withheld for future reporting obligations and updates of charity information.
However, every time you upload a new document, for example a governing document or financial report, you will need to apply to have the information in the new document withheld.
Also, if you have applied for individual responsible person details to be withheld, each time you add a new responsible person, you will need to apply to have their details withheld, if needed.
Tips when applying for information to be withheld
- know exactly what information you want withheld
- know the reason why you want the information withheld
- if applying to withhold part of a document (such as your financial report), you must provide the complete (un-redacted) version of the document you wish to be withheld. We need this information so we can make a decision about whether it is withheld or not. In addition, if the information is withheld on the ACNC Register, the ACNC requires a complete (un-redacted) version for our records
Public interest in publishing
The ACNC will always consider whether the public interest in having the information on the ACNC Register is greater than the likely harm of publishing the information.
Information about private ancillary funds
Under ACNC regulations, private ancillary funds (funds set up to provide money, property or benefits to deductible gift recipients – DGRs) that are registered charities can ask the ACNC to withhold information from the ACNC Register under additional grounds. This includes some funds that used to be called ‘income tax exempt funds’ (ITEFs). Generally, we will allow private ancillary funds to withhold their information if its publication is likely to identify individual donors.