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An update from Sarah Davies – Chair of the ACNC Advisory Board

The ACNC Advisory Board met on 20 February for our first meeting of 2024, at the ACNC’s office in Docklands, Melbourne.

Our first order of business was to acknowledge and thank retiring Advisory Board Ex-Officio member, Dini Soulio. Through his role as South Australia’s Commissioner of Consumer Affairs and Liquor and Gambling with Consumer & Business Services (CBS), Dini has been responsible for charity regulation in SA. He has been an Advisory Board member for eight years and has played a crucial role in streamlined reporting amongst Australian states, and the fundraising reforms. The ACNC Commissioner and other Advisory Board members thanked him for his leadership and significant contribution and we wish him well as he steps down from his Commissioner role.

The Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners provided a quarterly operational update, and in particular, noted:

  • Currently looking at the concept of two to three sector specific sub-sector engagements which would include faith-based organisations and peak bodies
  • Good progress with inter-agency collaboration around the harmonisation of screening checks nationally
  • ACNC registered entities achieved a 72% lodgement rate for their Annual Information Statements (an increase from 68% in 2023). While not quite at the desired target of 75%, it was great to see the majority of organisations supporting the sector’s accountability and transparency commitments by being so timely and responsive
  • International charity regulators meeting scheduled for March.

The Commissioner also provided a detailed report on charity registration progress. The Commissioner and the ACNC team have been very aware of and concerned about the significant delays in processing charity registrations over the last few months, and in the absence of additional resources to cope with the increased volume and demand, have been trying a number of strategies to address this (e.g. recruiting extra staff, offering overtime, improved communication to applicants, business process review and improvement, upcoming deployment of a new application form to streamline the steps required, etc.). The Commissioner noted that as at 20 Feb, there were 620 pending registrations, of which 86 have been waiting 3 months or slightly more. She was pleased to announce an additional 12 positions in the registration team to try to accommodate the ‘new normal’ application volumes, in order improve the time taken to allocate each application and then to deliver on their commitment of processing within 15 business days of receiving all information necessary to make a decision.

There was some exploration of the possible causes of the sustained increased applications (a sustained 6% increase over many months), such as an early impact from the changes to the ATO’s not-for-profit self-assessing income tax reporting requirements (more on this later*) and changes to the re-structuring of some large faith-based service organisations.

Nevertheless, it was very clear that the Commissioner and her team absolutely understand the frustration the delays are causing, are unhappy about the delays and are doing everything they can to both clear the backlog and work out how to handle the anticipated continued increases in applications.

There then followed an external presentation from the Not-for-profit, Government and New Measures Team at the ATO. Some of the key points covered included:

  • a reminder of charities’ obligations to complete their annual self-reviews to check tax concession entitlements, DGR endorsement entitlements and governance requirements
  • the emerging risks which the ATO looks for, such as, commercial activities by NFPs and charitable entities, rising debt levels, organisation structures and transparency, use of PBI status to access FBT concessions, private NFP foundations and NFP structures used to fraudulently obtain tax benefits
  • a briefing on the new reporting requirement for those non-charitable NFPs who self-assess as income tax exempt, and
  • a heads-up that GST reporting obligations will be next cab off the rank for review after self-assessment of income tax exemption.

The Advisory Board was particularly interested in the current focus on income tax exemption self-assessment reporting; we know how much change is required within affected organisations, so we were delighted and grateful for the ATO’s time and the opportunity to discuss.

The ATO shared the following data – of the 225,300 NFPs registered with an ABN, approximately:

  • 75,800 (26%) are endorsed tax concession charities – and are not affected by these changes
  • 9,000 (4%) are taxable NFPs – and not affected; they already lodge a tax return
  • 157,100 (70%) – are self-assessed income tax exempt NFPs, self-assessed under the 8 categories which allow income tax exemption, and are not registered charities. It’s this group of NFPs which are affected by the change in reporting; and if a return is not lodged, the NFP may be ineligible for an income tax exemption.

Above data from ATO data warehouse as of June 2023.

If a self-assessing NFP does not fit within one of the 8 categories which enable income tax exemption (community service, sporting, cultural, educational, health, employment, scientific and resource development), and it chooses not to register (or is not eligible to register) with the ACNC, then it will be taxable.

The ATO summarised its 2-3 year transition process and expectations and the support it is offering to affected organisations. All ATO advice and guidance to NFPs around this matter can be found here:

There was much discussion about the inevitable increased workload for the ACNC. It is anticipated that a significant proportion of the NFPs impacted by the change will seek ACNC registration. This then took the Advisory Board straight back to the challenges of timely registration processing*, and the challenges of managing increased volumes without a corresponding increase in resources.

It was a robust conversation, which also explored the broader but more fundamental questions around impacts on and risks to grassroots community organisations (such as local clubs and volunteer groups).

Our final agenda item for the day comprised identifying and agreeing the key themes and issues the Advisory Board wants to explore over the next 4-6 meetings.

The top 4 issues included (i) the continuing push for red tape reduction and possible opportunities around AI to accelerate next steps; (ii) contemporary governance issues including secrecy provisions, related party transactions, and provision of ACNC advice and resources; (iii) implications of climate change, resilience and adaptation; and (iv) an update on the Blueprint Expert Reference Group (BERG) process, findings and proposed way forward, including assessment of sector development within the economic context.

Our next meeting is in May in Canberra, where the Advisory Board will meet with ACFID and some of our key international aid and development organisations.

I look forward to providing another summary then.

Best wishes,
Sarah

Previous Advisory Board summaries

View the summaries from previous ACNC Advisory Board meetings by clicking on the headings below.

The ACNC Advisory Board met on 5 December 2023 at the ACNC’s office in Docklands, Melbourne.

The meeting was scheduled to coincide with an ACNC all-staff gathering, where we were joined by Hon Dr Andrew Leigh, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, who spoke with staff and presented the annual staff awards. It also gave Advisory Board members a great opportunity to meet the whole ACNC team.

Post the event, the Assistant Minister joined the Advisory Board for a part of its meeting where we discussed the current context and trends including:

  • the decline in volunteering within Australia
  • the need to bolster the NFP sector’s capability and maturity in cybersecurity, the different cybersecurity scenarios which may occur and the impact these could have on the sector if certain information was illegally obtained, and
  • some of the themes and issues arising from the Assistant Minister’s recent town hall series, especially relating to streamlined reporting and harmonisation among the States.

It was terrific to have a conversation with the Assistant Minster as an Advisory Board and we are grateful to him for his commitment to the sector, and for taking the time to meet with us. After the Assistant Minster left, we resumed ‘normal business’.

The Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner provided a quarterly operational update, and in particular, noted:

  • a positive step forward in harmonising national fundraising requirements, with the South Australian Government indicating that the National Fundraising Principles alone will meet their requirements. We hope this provides a good model for other jurisdictions
  • the continued increase in charity registration applications is outstripping the Registration Directorate’s resources to be able to process and respond in a timely manner. We know this is causing problems and frustration for applicants and apologise as we add resources and look for any opportunities to streamline procedures
  • the first deidentified registration decision (worked on by the Education and Legal teams)
  • the ACNC Census Action Plan which has been published on the ACNC website, and
  • the ACNC will be implementing a staged introduction of Multi-factor Authentication (MFA) for charities using the Charity Portal.

There then followed two external presentations.

  1. David Spriggs, CEO of InfoXchange: David and the Advisory Board discussed the changes needed in the sector to support digital innovation and improve sector preparedness for cybersecurity challenges. We know cybersecurity is a major concern within the NFP sector and while it has increased as a priority, it has not come as far as it should. David stressed the importance of taking necessary measures such as MFA to safeguard against potential threats and acknowledged that sharing data and information with ChatGPT/AI tools without proper knowledge of its impact on cybersecurity is a risk.
  2. Julie Ambramson, Krystian Siebert, and their colleagues from the Productivity Commission, joined the meeting to discuss the Productivity Commission’s draft report into philanthropy, the government's role in supporting philanthropy, trends in giving through PAFs, an overview of the three reform pillars, and the recommendations contained within the report. As you can imagine, there was much discussion on the key points and on the report’s findings and recommendations. We spent quite a bit of time talking about potential implications for the ACNC including key risks and strategic opportunities.

Our next meeting is in February 2024 and I look forward to providing another summary then.

Best wishes,
Sarah

The ACNC Advisory Board met on 18 September 2023. This was the first time the new Advisory Board members have come together since their appointments, so the agenda and discussion were predominantly focused on induction and familiarisation.

The Commissioner provided some general observations on the current environment within which the ACNC is operating (which she has also shared in her recent Commissioner’s Column). In discussing how the Advisory Board could best fulfil its advisory role to the Commissioner, the following three ACNC priorities were emphasised:

  • ensuring the ACNC’s core business as a regulator operates expertly, efficiently, fairly and transparently
  • continuing to focus on and work with state, territory and commonwealth governments and agencies to build an improved, nationally consistent regulatory framework, and
  • collecting and sharing useful and accessible sector data to help inform policy and to add value to the sector.

To provide further context, the Deputy Chair, who has been on the Advisory Board for five years, was asked to share her experience and insights in order to help the new members orient themselves to the next period. The introduction and induction was then rounded out with briefings from the senior ACNC team on their roles and activities.

The remainder of the meeting was a bit more personal, as we started to get to know each other and set our own ‘rules of engagement’ for how we want to show up and conduct the Advisory Board meetings. We have agreed that we’d like to share a summary of each meeting with you – so you can keep track of the items (issues, opportunities, etc) we cover.

We are all honoured to be members of the Advisory Board and committed to enabling and supporting a strong, effective and relevant national regulator, for our critical and precious sector and all its constituents.

Best wishes,
Sarah

The ACNC Advisory Board's May 2023 meeting was held in Melbourne at the ACNC offices.

Keynote speakers for the May meeting were Doug Taylor, CEO The Smith Family, Krystian Seibert, Alex Robson, Julie Abramson and Anna Heaney, Productivity Commission, and David Spriggs, CEO Infoxchange. Tim Liu, ACNC Governance Officer and Reporting & Red Tape Reduction Manager also attended the meeting to provide the Board with an update on the ACNC Performance, Audit and Risk Committee (PARC) alongside Heather Watson, Board member and Chair of the PARC.

Commissioner Sue Woodward AM thanked the Board for their service, outlined the importance of having an advisory board and provided the Board with reflections and updates from the ACNC such as Advice Services wait times, Registration case types and workloads, reviews of charities with DGR status, the ACNC’s Employee Value Proposition and the upcoming edition of the Charities Report.

ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, updated the Board on a range of issues, including measures being progressed by Treasury.

The focus of Doug Taylor’s presentation was on the background of The Smith Family, including its vision, purpose, guiding principles and five-year strategy, as well as risks, a cybersecurity case study, and key issues from the NFP sector.

Krystian Seibert, Alex Robson, Julie Abramson and Anna Heaney joined the meeting virtually to provide an update on and discuss the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Philanthropy with the Board. Their presentation included trends and motivations of giving in Australia, opportunities for and obstacles to increasing philanthropic giving, and recommended ways to respond to opportunities and obstacles and the Board asked questions throughout.

David Spriggs, CEO Infoxchange, presented to the Board on the vision, mission and the social objectives of Infoxchange; digital empowerment, sector capability and collaborative impact. David reported information on AskIzzy, Infoxchange’s mobile website that connects people who are in crisis with the services they need, including data that can be obtained from this resource, and how Infoxchange supports the sector through client and case management.

The Board closed the meeting after engaging in discussions that were centred around reflections and looking forward.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for August 2023.

The ACNC Advisory Board's February 2023 meeting was held online, with board members hearing from two guest speakers on topics relating to the charity sector.

Keynote speakers for the February meeting were Mat Tinkler, CEO, Save the Children, and Vicki Reid, Executive Director, Tennis Australia Foundation.

The Chair, Tony Stuart, welcomed Sue Woodard AM as Commissioner and acknowledged the support the Board has received from Deborah Jenkins and Anna Longley.

Sue Woodward AM, ACNC Commissioner, introduced herself to the Board and provided some early reflections on her time as Commissioner, including the impact of change on ACNC staff, current workload, the importance and integrity of the ACNC Register, funding and budget, red tape reduction, public benefit vs. detriment and public trust and confidence. Sue also covered her current priorities as Commissioner.

ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, updated the Board on cybersecurity and the risk for charities, including how the ACNC can provide guidance and education to charities.

Mat Tinkler, CEO, Save the Children, joined the Board to discuss the history of Save The Children, it’s global footprint, international donors, locations of operations, the diversification journey and his reflections on running a charitable organisation and the Board asked questions and provided observations following the presentation.

The focus of Vicki Reid’s presentation was on the Australian Tennis Foundation’s vision, target group, key pillars, development of fundraising strategies, program delivery (six main programs) and goals and priorities for 2023 and beyond.

The Board engaged in discussions that included sustainability issues of charity operated aged care and NDIS services, the ACNC using/bringing data to ensure there is a vibrant and robust NFP sector, the need to move from silos and to increase interdepartmental engagement and the ongoing public vigilance of charity scams and emerging risks. An update on the ACNC’s Performance, Audit and Risk Committee was also provided.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for May 2023.

The ACNC Advisory Board's November 2022 meeting was held in Canberra at the offices of the Australian Taxation Office.

Keynote speakers for the November meeting were:

  • Camille Schloeffel and Sophie Aboud – The STOP Campaign
  • Richard Colbran – CEO, NSW Rural Doctors Network
  • Tim Liu – ACNC Manager
  • Hon Dr Andrew Leigh – Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
  • Jacky Rowbotham – Assistant Secretary, Not-for-profits and Tax Administration Branch, Treasury
  • Jennifer Moltisanti – Assistant Commissioner, Australian Taxation Office

Camille and Sophie’s presentation included information on The STOP Campaign and its projects, challenges and learnings as well as its ‘Safe Response Toolkit’ (one-stop shop information resource for victim survivors in the ACT and frontline responders) and ‘College Program' (peer led education and advocacy workshops for students at residential colleges in universities). Camille and Sophie also outlined challenges faced by the organisation.

Richard joined the Board to provide an overview of the learnings and outcomes of his study that investigated organisational performance measurement of health charities, titled 'Action Implementation Model for Organisational Performance Measurement in Non-Acute Health Charities (MAIM)'.

Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury, attended the meeting to provide updates on the charity sector blueprints, the Productivity Commission review into philanthropy, his target of doubling philanthropy by 2030 and his aim of raising the profile of charities and not-for-profits via his recent Building Forums.

Jacky Rowbotham, Assistant Secretary, Not-for-profits and Tax Administration Branch, Treasury, and Jennifer Moltisanti, Assistant Commissioner, Australian Taxation Office, also provided updates on the progress of certain matters with Treasury and an overview of ATO NFP Centre key messages.

Acting ACNC Commissioner, Deborah Jenkins, provided an update on the ACNC Quarterly Report and spent time discussing her time as Acting Commissioner. ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, also provided the Board information from the October 2022 Adviser and Sector Forums and the recently refreshed ACNC Culture Vision Overview.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for February 2023.

The ACNC Advisory Board's August 2022 meeting was held in Melbourne at The Alannah and Madeline Foundation, an ACNC registered charity whose mission is keeping children safe from violence.

The ACNC Advisory Board is made up of seven sector leaders and experts in charity law, taxation, and accounting and policy, as well as state government officials.

Keynote speakers for the August meeting were:

  • Tim Liu – ACNC
  • Rachel Smith and Rachel Gear – ACNC
  • Dr Sue Regan – Deputy CEO, Volunteering Australia (VA)
  • Hon Dr Andrew Leigh – Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury
  • Sarah Davies AM – CEO, The Alannah and Madeline Foundation.

Acting ACNC Commissioner, Deborah Jenkins, provided an update on the ACNC Quarterly Report and outlined several observations on her first four weeks as Acting Commissioner. ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, reported on the recent ACNC Regulators Day and CLAANZ Conference, as well the Assistant Minister’s Community Building Forums that have been occurring around Australia. Members of the Board who attended the Forums also reported their experiences.

The focus of Tim’s presented to the Board on charity program reporting trends and the ACNC Charities Report 8th edition and discussed themes such as program reporting within the 2020 Annual Information Statement and subtypes, voluntary revocations and the average age of charities.

Sue presented information to the Board on VA’s vision and purpose, volunteering during COVID-19, VA’s National Strategy for Volunteering and the state of volunteering in Australia today, including the value it provides. The Board asked questions throughout, regarding the impact of the reduction of volunteering in Australia and the rate of volunteering uptake.

The Board were also joined by Hon Dr Andrew Leigh MP, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury. The Assistant Minister advised the Board that he is passionate about the work of charities and the Board participated in a Q&A session.

The focus of Sarah’s presentation was to provide a background on The Alannah and Madeline Foundation’s strategic plan 2022-25, including updates on the work the Foundation conducts to support children to recover and heal from trauma. Sarah also provided the Board with information on Dolly’s Dream, a sub fund of The Alannah and Madeleine Foundation, that sparked conversations between the Board around sub funds and the benefits of this approach.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for November 2022.

The ACNC Advisory Board met briefly in June 2022 in Sydney at UNICEF, an ACNC registered charity that amplifies children’s voices, defends their rights, and helps them fulfil their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.

ACNC Commissioner, Hon Dr Gary Johns, thanked the Board for their contribution and service over last five years, as this meeting was his last as Commissioner, and the Chair, Tony Stuart, praised Gary for visiting charities, for listening and reflecting and for his input, participation, and leadership during his tenure. ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, received feedback from the Board on the recently updated ACNC Commissioner’s Interpretation Statements (PBI and HPC).

The Board were joined by Joe Coyte and Alex Lee from The Glen for Men and The Glen for Women Centres, who detailed information on The Glen, including context and background of how the organisation was established, the Centre’s values, details of the programs offered and the involvement of volunteers and community. Joe and Alex also provided an overview of the legal structure of the organisation and the application process.

Mel Yates, ACNC's Director of Reporting, Red Tape Reduction and Corporate Services, provided the Board with an update on the way the ACNC approaches and manages risk and a breakdown of current risks and risk tolerance at the ACNC. The Board were also asked for their thoughts on governance, based on the ATO’s Risk Management Framework, and how the ACNC Audit and Risk Committee should be operated.

The Board finished the meeting with a working dinner, where they engaged in conversations around greater connectivity with the United Kingdom and membership organisations as charities.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for August 2022.

The ACNC Advisory Board's May 2022 meeting was held in Sydney at Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, an ACNC registered charity that supports high potential organisations that provide opportunities for young people to access decent work, to care for the environment, contribute to society and explore Christian faith and values.

Keynote speakers for the May meeting were:

  • Susan Barker – Sue Barker Charities Law
  • Jenny Wheatley – CEO, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
  • Joanna Austin – ACNC’s Director of Legal & Policy
  • James Bennett – ACNC’s Director of Compliance
  • Sallyann Stonier - ACNC's Director of Registration
  • Lisa Difford – ACNC’s DGR Reform Project Manager

The focus of Susan’s presentation was the recent report that has been released as a result of her research project into the question “What does the world-leading framework of charities law look like?”. Susan provided the Board with information on the research and reported on views held widely across the charitable sector in New Zealand before conducting a Q&A session.

Jenny presented an overview of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and its approach to philanthropy and discussed its strategic review process, Backing Young People.

Joanna and James joined the meeting to discuss private benefit. The presentation included a background on the current review and refresh of the Commissioner’s Interpretation Statements (CIS), categories of impermissible private benefit and a few case studies. Sallyann Stonier and Lisa Difford attended the meeting to provide updates on the current Data Integrity Project, designed to maintain the integrity of data on the ACNC Charity Register, and the recent reviews of charities with DGR endorsement.

ACNC Commissioner, Hon Dr Gary Johns, provided an update on the ACNC Quarterly Report and spent time discussing the future agenda of the ACNC. Dr Johns also debriefed the Board on his recent trip to visit charity regulators in the UK and Ireland. ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, also provided the Board with information on the role of charities during the election period and action the ACNC takes when complaints/concerns about charities are featured in the media.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for August 2022.

The ACNC Advisory Board's March 2022 meeting was held in Melbourne at the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation, Australia’s largest independent community foundation.

The ACNC Advisory Board is made up of seven sector leaders and experts in charity law, taxation, and accounting and policy, as well as state government officials.

The Federal Minister responsible for the ACNC appoints the board, which also provides advice to the ACNC Commissioner on issues, valuable insights into the Australian charity sector, and input towards the Commissioner’s functions under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (ACNC Act).

Keynote speakers for the March meeting were:

  • Mike Myers – Managing Director, National Affordable Housing Consortium
  • Jae Yang – Partner, Prolegis Lawyers
  • Dr Catherine Brown OAM – CEO, Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation

Mike and Jae joined the meeting virtually for a panel discussion with the Board on affordable housing, focusing on three areas: regulatory interface, shared equity and innovation within the sector.

Catherine’s presentation focused on the Lord Mayor's Charitable Foundation, including its approach to and theory of philanthropy, impact areas and current projects, and the state of the charitable, not-for-profit and philanthropic sectors in 2022.

ACNC Commissioner, Hon Dr Gary Johns, provided an update on the ACNC Quarterly Report and an overview of his planned trip to London, Liverpool, Edinburgh, Belfast and Dublin in March 2022 to meet with national charity regulators. ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, discussed current matters before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the recent refresh of the ACNC Adviser and Sector Forums.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for May 2022.

The ACNC Advisory Board's November 2021 meeting was held online, with board members hearing from several guest speakers on varied topics relating to the charity sector.

The ACNC Advisory Board is made up of seven sector leaders and experts in charity law, taxation, and accounting and policy, as well as state government officials.

Keynote speakers for the November meeting were:

  • Demi Gurov and Tim Liu – ACNC
  • Hon Michael Sukkar MP – Assistant Treasurer, Minister for Housing and Minister for Homelessness, Social and Community Housing, and Nick Kavass, Adviser
  • Jack Heath, Sam Rosevear, and Krystian Siebert – Philanthropy Australia
  • Jane Edwards, Rosalie Wilkie and Lawrence Goldstone – PricewaterhouseCoopers

ACNC Commissioner, Hon Dr Gary Johns, provided an update on the ACNC Quarterly Report and introduced the ACNC’s new geospatial search function (going live on 1 December 2021). Demi and Tim outlined the key search functions and demonstrated to the Board how to search by program classification and location. ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, updated the Board on recent decisions of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the ‘Commissioners Interpretation Statement – Provision of housing by charities’, the ACNC Legislation Review, Governance Standard 3, charity size thresholds, related party transactions and the ACNC secrecy provisions.

Hon Michael Sukkar MP and Nick Kavass, Adviser, joined the meeting to provide the Board with an update on goals of the 2021-22 financial year in relation to reducing red tape, strengthening trust in the not-for-profit sector and enhancing the effectiveness of the ACNC as a regulator.

The focus of Jack, Sam, and Krystian’s presentation was on Philanthropy Australia’s Blueprint, the shape of the philanthropic sector and Philanthropy Australia’s draft election statement.

Jane, Rosalie and Lawrence presented the findings, highlights and key themes of the 2nd Annual Not-for-profit CEO Survey, as well as information on the future of work (flexible work arrangements, different jobs, ageing workforce) and how it will be defined and prepared for, going forward to 2030.

The next meeting for the Board has been scheduled for February 2022. The meeting will be held in Melbourne.

The ACNC Advisory Board's August 2021 meeting was held online over two days, with board members hearing from several guest speakers on varied topics relating to the charity sector.

Day 1 of the meeting was a 90-minute session that involved the Board discussing the ACNC External Conduct Standards.

Keynote speakers at Day 2 of the August meeting were:

  • Suzie Riddell, CEO – Social Ventures Australia Associate
  • Simon Lewis, Mark Cubit & Marc Purcell – The Australian International Development Network
  • Mel Yates – ACNC's Director of Reporting, Red Tape Reduction and Corporate Services

Suzie presented to the Board on resilience and productivity in the charity sector. She shared analysis, insights and recommendations based on recent reports by the Social Ventures Australia and Centre for Social Impact called ‘Partners in Recovery’. The Board were presented with information obtained through modelling on the financial and workforce impacts of COVID-19 on charities and differences between charities and businesses and recommendations on how to support charities, including the resilient charities fund (a one-off, time-limited fund to support charities to undertake strategic and operational transformation).

The focus of Simon, Mark and Marc’s presentation was on international philanthropy data, and they took the opportunity to provide feedback on how the ACNC captures data.

Mel attended the meeting to provide an update on changes to financial reporting thresholds for charities and the future position of where the ACNC aims to be in relation to reporting and the implementation of the recommendations of the ACNC Legislative Review.

ACNC Commissioner, Hon Dr Gary Johns, demonstrated the new charity program search function on the ACNC website, and ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, discussed matters before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the ‘Commissioners Interpretation Statement – Provision of housing by charities’, and Treasury consultations.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for November 2021. The meeting will be held in Melbourne.

The ACNC Advisory Board's May 2021 meeting was held in Sydney at Royal Far West, an ACNC registered charity that connects Australian country children to the developmental care they need.

The ACNC Advisory Board is made up of seven sector leaders and experts in charity law, taxation, and accounting and policy, as well as state government officials.

The Federal Minister responsible for the ACNC appoints the board, which also provides advice to the ACNC Commissioner on issues, valuable insights into the Australian charity sector, and input towards the Commissioner’s functions under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (ACNC Act).

Keynote speakers for the May meeting were:

  • Lindsay Cane AM – CEO, Royal Far West
  • Annabelle Daniel OAM – Women’s Community Shelters
  • Sallyann Stonier - ACNC's Director of Registration
  • Lisa Difford – ACNC’s DGR Reform Project Manager

Lindsay’s presentation focused on Royal Far West and its focus, journey, operations and future plans. The Board were also taken on a tour of Royal Far West during this time.

Annabelle provided the Board with the opportunity to discuss Women’s Community Shelters’ Social Enterprise Model, \its history and creation, models, achievements, challenges, and future visions.

Sallyann and Lisa attended the meeting to provide updates on the current Data Integrity Project, designed to maintain the integrity of data on the ACNC Charity Register, and the recent reviews of charities with DGR endorsement.

ACNC Commissioner, Hon Dr Gary Johns, provided an update on the ACNC Quarterly Report, the Charity Marketplace, ACNC efficiency and effectiveness and the Charities Report 7th edition. ACNC Assistant Commissioner General Counsel, Anna Longley, also provided the Board with an update that included information on matters before the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the staff return to the office following COVID-19.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for August 2021.

The ACNC Advisory Board's February 2021 meeting was held online, with board members hearing from a number of guest speakers on varied topics relating to the charity sector.

The ACNC Advisory Board is made up of seven sector leaders and experts in charity law, taxation, and accounting and policy, as well as state government officials.

The Federal Minister responsible for the ACNC appoints the board, which also provides advice to the ACNC Commissioner on issues, valuable insights into the Australian charity sector, and input towards the Commissioner’s functions under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (ACNC Act).

Keynote speakers for the February meeting were:

  • Mel Yates - ACNC's Director of Reporting, Red Tape Reduction and Corporate Services
  • Rachel Smith – ACNC’s Director Advice and Education & Public Affairs
  • Associate Professor Wendy Scaife - The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, QUT Business School
  • Katherine Raskob - Chief Executive Officer, Fundraising Institute Australia (FIA).

Mel Yates and Rachel Smith attended the meeting to obtain feedback from the Board on the ‘Annual Financial Report Disclosures – best practice’ and ‘ACNC Stakeholder Engagement Framework’.

Fundraising guidance and research within the charity sector were the focus of Wendy and Catherine's presentations to the Board.

Wendy’s presentation focused on The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies’ research, and outlined the importance of being accountable, viable, enterprising and well led.

Katherine provided an overview of FIA’s activities, information on the new guidance for fundraising during national disasters, FIA Code and FIA Code Authority. The FIA and the ACNC also discussed opportunities to work together.

ACNC Commissioner, the Hon Dr Gary Johns, provided an update on the ACNC Quarterly Report, the Charity Marketplace, and the ACNC’s External Conduct Standards.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for May 2021. The meeting will be held in Sydney.

The ACNC Advisory Board's most recent meeting was held online in mid-November, with board members hearing from a number of guest speakers on varied topics relating to the charity sector.

The ACNC Advisory Board is made up of seven sector leaders and experts in charity law, taxation, and accounting and policy, as well as state government officials.

The Federal Minister responsible for the ACNC appoints the board, which also provides advice to the ACNC Commissioner on issues, valuable insights into the Australian charity sector, and input towards the Commissioner’s functions under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (ACNC Act).

Keynote speakers for the November meeting were:

  • Jennifer Moltisanti - ATO Assistant Commissioner, Not-for-profit Centre
  • Mel Yates - ACNC's Director of Reporting, Red Tape Reduction and Corporate Services
  • Claire Robbs - CEO of Life Without Barriers
  • Liz Cruickshank - Secretary to the Property Trusts for the Salvation Army

Jennifer Moltisanti provided the board with an overview of the ATO Not-for-profit Centre's work, while Mel Yates spoke about updates to grants disclosure guidance. This guidance aims to further enhance transparency and to encourage charities to be more open about their grants sources.

Mergers in the charity sector were the focus of Claire and Liz's presentations to the board.

Claire's presentation focused on the five mergers Life Without Barriers had undertaken in the past five years, detailing some of the challenges faced when merging.

Liz provided an overview as to how The Salvation Army's eight Australian property trusts operate, as well as outcomes of how two former Australian Territories of The Salvation Army became one.

ACNC Commissioner, the Hon Dr Gary Johns, provided an update on the ACNC Quarterly Report, the Charity Marketplace, and on ACNC operations whilst staff have been working remotely. The board also discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on the charity and not-for-profit sectors.

The next meeting of the board has been scheduled for February 2021.