An update from Tony Stuart - Chair of the ACNC Advisory Board

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, and 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.

Previous Advisory Board summaries

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

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.