Commissioner’s Column – 11 July 2018

This week is NAIDOC Week, the annual celebration of the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The 2018 theme is “Because of her, we can” – honouring the strong Indigenous women who are significant role models for all Australians.

Thank you to our wonderful Aboriginal Liaison Officers at the ACNC, Caitlin and Louis, for organising a range of events for staff to celebrate, embrace and learn more about Indigenous culture this week.

Visiting charities in Sydney and Parramatta

Following visits to Mildura, Echuca and Shepparton in Victoria, last week I had the pleasure of spending time in Sydney and Parramatta, taking the opportunity to meet with local charities. I would like to thank the charities who generously shared their time and expertise with me, including Salwan Ameen from registered charity Islamic Relief Australia.

Salwan described the important work Islamic Relief Australia does in the local community – and indeed, around the world.

Pictured: Meeting with Salwan Ameen from Islamic Relief Australia

My next port of call will be regional south-east Queensland. If your charity is based in the area, let my colleagues know and I may be able to stop by to chat about your charity’s work.

Congratulations to ACNC Advisory Board member Dr Susan Alberti AC

I would like to extend my congratulations and well-wishes to ACNC Advisory Board member Dr Susan Alberti AC, who was recently honoured as Victorian of the Year by the Victoria Day Council.

The Victoria Day Council recognises people who have served their community in Victoria at an extraordinary level – and Dr Alberti has certainly done that, raising millions to help find a cure for Type 1 diabetes through her registered charity, the Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation.

Congratulations again on the well-deserved honour.

2017 Annual Information Statements now overdue for thousands of charities

Thousands of charities have failed to submit their 2017 Annual Information Statement – if your charity has not yet completed its reporting, I urge you to do so as soon as possible.

Submitting the Annual Information Statement is a requirement of maintaining registration of the ACNC, and demonstrates your charity’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

Charities that fail to report risk financial penalties and ultimately, the loss of charity status.

Submit your charity’s Annual Information Statement now via the ACNC Charity Portal, at charity.acnc.gov.au.

Need further assistance or support? There are a range of free resources, including a step-by-step guide and checklist, available on the ACNC website at acnc.gov.au/2017AIS.

Recent compliance action

The ACNC has recently taken compliance action against a charity, revoking the charity status of Breaking Through Transitional Services Limited (ABN: 13153019348).

The organisation was endorsed by the Australian Taxation Office to access the following Commonwealth charity tax concessions:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST) concession
  • Income tax exemption, and
  • Fringe Benefits Tax (FBT) exemption.

Breaking Through Transitional Services Limited also had Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status.

This charity has now lost access to generous Commonwealth charity tax concessions.

We are prevented from disclosing further details due to secrecy provisions in the ACNC Act. However, we publish instances where we use our formal powers, including revocation, on the ACNC Charity Register and at acnc.gov.au/compliancedecisions.

Every month we receive around 100 concerns about charities, many of which are submitted to us by members of the public. If you have concerns about a registered charity, you can raise them formally by visiting acnc.gov.au/charityconcern, or by calling 13 ACNC (13 22 62).

Managing conflicts of interest

The people on a charity’s board make an enormous contribution to the charity's work and the community. Board members bring experience, expertise and commitment to the board table, often on a voluntary basis.

One of the fundamental responsibilities of charity board members is to always act in the best interests of the charity. While this not an issue for most charities most of the time, there are instances where conflicts of interest, both perceived and actual, can occur.

To help both new and experienced charity board members responsibly manage conflicts of interest, my colleagues in the ACNC’s education team are hosting a webinar on Thursday 12 July. If you are on a charity’s board, or manage the governance of a charity, I recommend you sign up and attend.

Our webinars offer an easy-to-understand overview of a topic, links to further guidance, and give attendees the opportunities to ask questions in real-time, and best of all – they are free of charge!

You can find more information on our website at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

Best Wishes,

The Hon Dr Gary Johns

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