The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has published a new Decision Impact Statement following an Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT) determination on a matter brought by Equality Australia Ltd.
Equality Australia Ltd had applied to the ACNC to be registered with the ‘Public Benevolent Institution’ (PBI) charity subtype. However, the ACNC refused the application because it considered that it had an independent, non-benevolent purpose of engaging in advocacy to agitate for law reform and social change, and this purpose did not amount to benevolent relief to people in need. Equality Australia was registered as a charity under a different subtype – advancing public debate.
The AAT upheld the ACNC’s decision. It determined the applicant was not a PBI, as the kind of advocacy for law reform and social change it was focused on was ‘too far removed’ from ‘the traditional concepts of benevolence, even allowing for the evolution that has occurred in our understanding of that term.’
Equality Australia has appealed to the Full Federal Court, and the new ACNC Decision Impact Statement will apply until the Full Federal Court issues its judgment.
ACNC Commissioner Sue Woodward AM said the new ACNC Decision Impact Statement relates the law as it stands. “We note that that the appeal to the Full Federal Court may provide further clarification of the law. The term ‘Public Benevolent Institution’ is not defined in legislation so we welcome the opportunity for this issue to be tested in the Federal Court,” she said.