This article was updated on the 24th of May 2023 to include a hyperlink to a webinar explaining charities' obligations to both the ACNC and Australian Electoral Commission.
The ACNC has released information for charities considering contributing to conversations taking place about the Australian Government’s planned referendum on an Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commissioner Sue Woodward AM said the sector can make a valuable contribution.
“Charities can engage in advocacy activities and they often do. This year, some charities might want to advocate for a particular outcome on the referendum,” Ms Woodward said.
“If a charity plans to undertake advocacy activities, it must be able to demonstrate how it believes its advocacy furthers its charitable purpose – the purpose set out in its Constitution.
“In the case of the planned referendum, some charities may just want to make a statement of support for the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ case. An example would be a message in the charity’s email signature block. This would not jeopardise their registration with the ACNC,” Ms Woodward said.
‘Charities, Advocacy and the Planned Referendum on An Indigenous Voice to Parliament’ is now available on the ACNC website.
It explains that the people responsible for running a charity - such as Directors, CEOs and senior workers (paid or volunteer) - should be clear about how their charity will advocate. They should also be clear about the type of thing that can be said and done in the name of their charity and they should set boundaries.
Further, it explains it is important that advocacy is lawful, respectful and fair as this helps ensure the charity and its leaders meet their obligations under the ACNC’s Governance Standards.
The ACNC also has more detailed information on advocacy by registered charities and charities, campaigning and advocacy which can help charities make decisions about their contributions to the conversation on the referendum.
Charities may also like to listen to this webinar with ACNC Commissioner, Sue Woodward AM and the Australian Electoral Commission - which explains the various obligations charities may have to both the ACNC and the Australian Electoral Commission in the lead up to the referendum.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0481 456 411.