Darwin 18 and 19 July 2013

The ACNC Advisory Board met in Darwin on 19 July 2013. This is the third jurisdiction that the Advisory Board has visited having had held its first meeting in Melbourne on 22 March 2013 and the second meeting in Sydney on 19 April 2013.

As previously advised, after each Advisory Board meeting, it was agreed to post a summary of key matters raised on the ACNC website to provide some insight into the operation of the Advisory Board.

Prior to the full board meeting on Friday 19 July, Advisory Board members held a forum with a number of key Northern Territory sector leaders, indigenous organisations and NT government officials over a two hour period on the afternoon of Thursday 18 July. The forum commenced with a Welcome to Country from a representative of the Larrakia Nation followed by an open discussion with participants who had raised matters ahead of the meeting.

Topics led by sector leaders included the progress of the negotiation for red tape reduction, alignment of the ACNC governance standards with other codes, registration and reporting requirements; and communication and continuing education across the whole of the Northern Territory sector including remote, indigenous, culturally and linguistically diverse organisations. The session was immensely valuable for the Advisory Board members and for the Commissioner and two Assistant Commissioners who were also in attendance.

Advisory Board Chair, Robert Fitzgerald AM, chaired both the forum with sector leaders on 18 July and the full Advisory Board meeting on 19 July.

The key items addressed at the Advisory Board Meeting on 19 July included:

  • the ACNC’s progress in its first six months
  • the recent launch of the ACNC Register including the on-going entry of data and challenge to keep the data current
  • the content of the Annual Report to Parliament
  • the results of the research into community trust and confidence in the charities sector in relation to the ACNC and the community expectations in relation to a regulator for charities
  • the passing of the Charities Act 2013 and Regulations for Governance Standards
  • the first meetings of the ACNC Sector and Professional Users Groups
  • ACNC involvement with the COAG Not-for-Profit Reform Working Group and the Not-for-profit Reform Council
  • the ACNC’s on-going engagement with the Sector generally.

A quarterly report on the performance of the ACNC against its key performance indicators was presented to the Board members for query and comment. The report provided data on the activity and progress of the ACNC in the period 1 April 2013 – 30 June 2013.

The ACNC Director of Registration presented two de-identified hypothetical scenarios which were drawn from live registration issues to give the Advisory Board an indication of the types of issues that the ACNC may face. The presentation of consolidated de-identified hypothetical scenarios protects the identity of organisations and individuals, but allows the Commissioner and ACNC staff to seek the advice of the expert and respected Advisory Board members.

The Advisory Board noted the wide variety of views in different jurisdictions and in different parts of the sector in relation to the ACNC’s regulatory approach. In particular the Board noted that there was very positive feedback on the timeliness of the ACNC processes, the helpfulness and approachability of ACNC staff and the ACNCs proactive and responsive approach to its engagement with the sector and government. It also noted concerns by some to ensure that the ACNC continues to vigorously pursue red tape reduction initiatives and exercise its influence on other parts of government where appropriate, and retain a light touch in its compliance approach. It also noted that there is still some confusion as to which parts of the NFP Reform agenda are within the responsibility of the ACNC, and which are not and the ACNC will need to continue to provide advice on these matters, although there is now much greater clarity given the passing of the legislative instruments underpinning the ACNC. The ACNC will continue to listen and respond to constructive feedback.

The next meeting of the Advisory Board will be in Adelaide on Friday 18 October. The meeting will be preceded by a forum with key sector leaders on Thursday 17 October.