We recognise that information about our investigations into charities is often of interest to the public and that disclosing it may improve compliance by deterring charities from repeating the mistakes of others.
However, we can only disclose information about the ACNC’s compliance activities when we are legally able to do so. We will clearly inform the media when we cannot fully answer their query, due to the secrecy provisions in the ACNC Act. Subject to certain exceptions, the secrecy provisions in Part 7-1 of the ACNC Act prohibit the disclosure of ‘protected ACNC information’.
We cannot disclose protected ACNC information to the media, including:
- whether or not the ACNC is investigating a specific charity
- the detailed findings of an investigation that has led to a charity's registration being revoked.
Unauthorised disclosure of protected ACNC information is an offence that can lead to 2 years imprisonment or a fine of 120 penalty units, or both. The value of a penalty unit is set by section 4AA of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth) and is subject to change.
When we can we will:
- alert the public when we revoke a charity's registration
- correct the public record to the extent necessary to properly respond to or clarify issues that have been raised in the public domain by the charity
- disclose protected ACNC information if it has already lawfully been disclosed to the public and the disclosure is for the purposes of the ACNC Act
- publish compliance actions we have taken against a charity on the charity's listing on the Charity Register - these include warnings, directions, enforceable undertakings, injunctions and suspensions of responsible persons. Such enforcement powers can only be exercised against ‘federally regulated entities’. Find out more on the definition of ‘federally regulated entity’ in the Commissioner’s Policy Statement: Compliance and Enforcement.
- disclose general trends and information relating to registered charities as a group.