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Governance Standard 3 requires charities to not act in a way that, under Commonwealth, state or territory law, could be dealt with as:

  • an indictable offence (being a serious crime that is generally tried by a judge and a jury), or
  • a breach of law that has a civil (not criminal) penalty of 60 penalty units or more.

Purpose of this standard

Acting lawfully helps protect a charity’s assets, reputation and the people it works with.

This standard does not impose a new burden on charities as they are already required to follow Australian laws.

This standard allows the ACNC to investigate potentially serious breaches of law.

Ways to meet this standard

You can take some simple steps to reduce the risk of your charity breaching this standard. In most cases, common sense and good practice will reduce risk, such as:

  • being familiar with the main areas of regulation for your charity
  • having some processes to protect your charity’s finances and assets
  • having a process to ensure your charity meets its legal obligations.

The extent and type of processes and controls that are reasonable for each charity will vary depending on its situation.

How the ACNC will approach this standard

The ACNC will not investigate every alleged breach of law by a charity.

The ACNC will only investigate serious offences (for example, fraud, money laundering or terrorist financing) that are likely to affect public trust and confidence and where this is necessary to protect the assets of the charity and the people it serves.

The ACNC will not investigate breaches of law or issues that other regulators or the police are better placed to handle. The ACNC will work with those agencies where appropriate.


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