A charity can apply to have certain information withheld from the public Charity Register.
However, we can only approve applications to have information withheld in limited circumstances.
In assessing an application, we must consider whether the harm caused by publishing the information is greater than the public interest in having the information on the Charity Register.
There are limited reasons a charity can put forward when requesting to have information withheld from the Charity Register.
For each specific piece of information a charity must choose a reason and then explain how that reason applies to its situation.
The limited reasons for which we can approve an application include:
- publishing the information could endanger public safety
- the information is commercially sensitive and publishing it could cause harm to the charity or a person
- the information is inaccurate, or likely to confuse or mislead, or
- the information is offensive.
For private ancillary funds, there are additional reasons:
- the information is likely to identify an individual donor
- publishing contact details would create an unreasonable administrative burden for the charity.
- Legal name
- Other names
- Address For Service
- Charity street address
- Charity phone number
- Charity email address
Applying to have these details withheld from the Charity Register does not automatically include instances where they appear in an Annual Information Statement. A charity may want to apply to have the details withheld from its Annual Information Statements as well.
- Names and positions of Responsible People
Note: Only the name and position of each Responsible Person is published on the Charity Register (for example: John Smith, Director). Because we do not publish the contact details or dates of birth of Responsible People on the Charity Register, do not apply to have them withheld.
- Annual Information Statement (or specific pieces of information within an Annual Information Statement)
- Governing document
- Financial report
- Other financial document (such as a review or audit report)
Applying to have financial documents withheld from the Charity Register does not automatically cover responses to questions contained in the Annual Information Statement. Similarly, applying to have an Annual Information Statement withheld does not include any attached financial report, financial documents or the governing document. A charity will need to apply to have each of these pieces of information or documents withheld separately.
Case study: Her Protection Shelter
Reason to withhold information
Her Protection Shelter is a charity that provides crisis accommodation and therapeutic support for women and children escaping domestic violence in Victoria.
The Responsible People (the board members) of Her Protection Shelter met to discuss the potential risk of harm to clients or staff if the charity's street address was published on the ACNC Charity Register.
They decide to apply to have this information withheld on the grounds that it could endanger public safety.
The ACNC’s decision
The ACNC reviewed the application and decided that publishing the shelter's street address could endanger the lives of the clients and staff, and there is no overriding public interest in making that information available to the public. The information is withheld.
Case study: Highlands
Reason to withhold information
Highlands is a community church that also runs a community pre-school.
The charity medium in size and is required to submit a reviewed financial report with its Annual Information Statement each year.
The Responsible People (its governing committee) met and discussed how they have never had to publicly disclose financial information before and believe it is commercially sensitive. They decide that publishing this information could cause the charity harm.
Highlands applied to the ACNC to have the charity’s financial report and Annual Information Statements withheld from the Charity Register because the documents contain financial information. After submitting the application to have the information withheld, Highlands submits its complete financial report for the ACNC to review.
The ACNC’s decision
The Responsible People of the charity provided no specific information explaining why individual entries in the financial report were commercially sensitive.
The information in the financial report does not identify individual unit costs for any items Highlands sells, the individual salaries of employees, private donors names or the value in dollars of individual grants received.
The ACNC decided the financial report was not commercially sensitive.
The ACNC also decided that there was no commercially sensitive information in the Annual Information Statement because the information is grouped.
The ACNC emailed the Responsible People of Highlands to inform them of the reasons for not withholding the financial report and Annual Information Statements from the Charity Register.
However, the ACNC continued to withhold the financial report and Annual Information Statement for 60 days to provide Highlands with the opportunity to appeal the decision. After the 60 days, following no appeal, the financial report and Annual Information Statements are published appear on the Charity Register.
1. Submit an application
Log in to the Charity Portal and in the ‘Manage other charity details’ section locate the form ‘Apply to have information withheld from the Charity Register’.
An organisation in the process of applying to register with the ACNC can use the registration application form to apply to have specific information withheld.
When applying, you should know exactly the information you want withheld, and the reason you want it withheld.
Include full versions of any documents that contain information you want to be withheld.
2. We consider the application
Once you submit an application, the information that is the subject of your application is automatically withheld from the Charity Register until we make a decision.
We assess the application based on the information the charity provides. We may need to contact the charity to ask for clarification or more information.
3. We make a decision
If we do not approve the application, we will contact the charity before we publish the information on the Charity Register.
If we approve the application, we will send the charity a notice confirming what we have withheld and why.
Future reports and updates
Generally, if we approve an application, the charity does not need to re-apply each year to have that information withheld again.
The information approved to be withheld will remain withheld for future reporting obligations and updates of charity information.
However, every time a charity uploads a new document (for example, a governing document or financial report), it will need to apply to have the information in the new document withheld.
To have the name or position of a new Responsible Person withheld, a charity will need to submit a new application.