This policy sets out the ACNC’s approach to deciding which external online sites (and their resources) will be referred to, via a link on the ACNC website or in other ACNC resources. 

Principle 1: Use ACNC resources to explain our work  

Principle 2: Use a government body’s own resources to explain their work 

Principle 3: Link to free resources where possible 

Principle 4: Provide several options where possible 

Principle 5: Focus on advice and guidance, not policy rationale

Principle 6: Link only to politically neutral content and generally accepted views 

Context

  1. The ACNC has an important role in supporting registered charities to achieve good governance and meet their obligations through the provision of information and resources.
  1. On our website, we may link to helpful resources produced by credible external organisations. Examples include:
    • A government agency’s guidance explaining what charities need to do to meet its requirements
    • guidance developed by peak bodies or service providers about promoting good governance practices, and
    • academics sharing research about the not-for-profit sector.
  1. This policy sets out our approach to deciding which external websites (and their resources) may be referred to, via a link from acnc.gov.au or in other ACNC resources.

Risk management

  1. There are risks to the ACNC’s reputation associated with linking to external sites, especially if a link makes it appear that the ACNC:
    • endorses or promotes a particular organisation’s work or products
    • supports a particular organisation’s policy or political views
    • is referring users to material that is out-of-date or that is not appropriate for the ACNC audience (due to the challenges of link maintenance).
  1. The ACNC mitigates these risks by:
    • following the principles set out in this policy and the process in our procedure for linking to external online resources
    • monitoring the external links we include in our website
    • having a disclaimer on our website that reinforces that external links are not an endorsement or recommendation, and that we are not responsible for the content of external websites,
    • publishing this policy, so that our approach is clear 
    • reserving the right to deny requests to link to external sites, and
    • reserving the right to remove links to external sites.
  1. The ACNC will link to external sites at its discretion and only if appropriate. This may include when:
    • the site contains information that is relevant and helpful to charities and other stakeholders
    • the content is of high quality and is published by a reputable source
    • linking to the site is consistent with the ACNC’s statutory objects, and
    • creating ACNC guidance would duplicate existing and otherwise appropriate information.

Principles

  1. In deciding whether to link to an external guidance resource, Education and Public Affairs staff will consider the following principles:

ACNC resources

Principle 1: Use ACNC resources to explain our work

  1. The ACNC develops our own guidance on regulatory obligations under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth) (ACNC Act), Charities Act 2013 (Cth), and accompanying regulations, rather than linking to third party explanations.
  1. Where our regulatory scope overlaps with other regulators, we will link to the other regulators’ own online resources that explain their role and requirements (consistent with Principle 2), even if there is some intersection with the ACNC’s requirements.

Other Government resources

Principle 2: Use a government body’s own resources to explain their work

  1. If the ACNC wishes to refer to the regulatory obligations, policy positions or other information about another government agency or regulator, we will link directly to that agency or regulator’s site where possible, rather than reproduce information or rely solely on a third party’s explanation.

Other external resources

Principle 3: Link to free resources where possible

  1. As a Commonwealth agency, the ACNC cannot appear to support or endorse a particular organisation, product or service, nor appear to encourage the purchase of products or services.
  1. If the ACNC wishes to refer to the sites of service providers, we prioritise:
    • freely available resources, rather than for-fee publications or services
    • providers who are not-for-profit.

Principle 4: Provide several options where possible

  1. Consistent with Principle 3, the ACNC will also, where possible, provide links to multiple external provider sites, rather than only one. This will help to reduce the risk that we may appear to be endorsing one organisation.

 

Principle 5: Focus on advice and guidance, not policy rationale

  1. The Australian Public Service (APS) Commissioner’s policy Making public comment and participating online requires the public service to focus on explaining how policies or programs will operate in practice, rather than explain policy decision rationales, which is the role of parliament. We link to external sites which offer advice or guidance and avoid those which comment extensively on the reasons behind policy or government decisions. However, we will link to government policy documents that relate to our legislation or not-for-profit law reform issues that are relevant to the sector and our work.

Principle 6: Link to politically neutral resources and generally accepted views

  1. The APS Values and Code of Conduct require us to be politically neutral and perform our functions in an impartial, professional, fair and effective manner.
  1. We will not link to resources from organisations with strong party-political views or that are otherwise inappropriate (for example, content that is discriminatory, defamatory, illegal or contrary to public policy). We will link to content that is likely to represent generally accepted views or current trends, such as resources from:
    • sector peak bodies or associations with broad membership and sector support
    • organisations with strong links to the sector, such as key service-providers or news services that specialise in not-for-profits.

References