ACNC Advisory Board

The ACNC Advisory Board had its first meeting of the year on 31 January in Melbourne. Discussions focussed on legislative requirements and operational priorities as dialogue builds around the future of the ACNC and the Government’s proposed approach to regulation of charities. The Board noted that the Minister for Social Services is planning consultation on the establishment of a new National Centre for Excellence and associated issues.

During the meeting the Board committed to developing a paper highlighting the principles which best underpin effective and efficient regulation of the sector, as a contribution to ever present discourse about what constitutes good charity regulation. This paper complements the ACNC’s Regulatory Approach. Both are based on the objectives set forth in the ACNC legislation.

There is a wealth of experience and expertise on the Board and I am grateful for their reflections which they were keen I share to help inform debate.

You can read the Board’s paper on the ACNC website. Additionally you can read an outline of the paper including the eight key principles from this fortnight’s guest columnist, Advisory Board Chair, Robert Fitzgerald AM.

A summary of discussions from the 31 January Board meeting is available to read online along with summaries from past meetings.

The Advisory Board meets quarterly and is scheduled to gather next in Brisbane in May. Communiqués from meetings are made available on the ACNC website after each meeting.

Reminder: submit your 2013 Annual Information Statement

Once again a reminder for charities using the standard 1 July to 30 June financial reporting year that your 2013 Annual Information Statement is due by 31 March 2014. We also remind those charities operating on a calendar year that their deadline is 30 June 2014. So far, more than 17,000 charities have completed or commenced their 2013 Annual Information Statements.

Guest editorial:

This Column’s guest editorial introduces the ACNC Advisory Board paper on principles of good charity regulation. These principles are relevant for any model of charity regulation and are intended to contribute to consultation, discussion and debate around future regulation and administration of Australian charities and the broader not-for-profit sector.

In closing, our thoughts are once again with the communities affected by the recent bushfires, especially those people who have lost their homes and possessions. Our ongoing thanks go to the brave, determined and committed emergency service workers who risk their lives to protect local people, animals and properties. We also acknowledge the strength in local communities who join together to look after one another in these challenging times.

For those who have inquired about consultation on the future of charity regulation you can also check the Department of Social Services website www.dss.gov.au where details will be available.

Good wishes

Susan Pascoe AM
Commissioner
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

The principles of good charity regulation

Guest editorial by Robert Fitzgerald AM, Chair ACNC Advisory Board

Photo of Robert Fitzgerald

In a statement published on the Department of Social Services website on 29 January, the Australian Government signalled a new approach to the regulation of charities and the broader not-for-profit sector. The ACNC Advisory Board noted that there are differing views within the sector itself and across the political spectrum and welcomed the Government’s commitment to open and comprehensive consultation on this matter.

At our January meeting the ACNC Advisory Board recommended that the ACNC should constructively contribute to the ongoing consideration of effective charity regulation based on evidence and sound principles.

The Board noted that a key role of charity regulation is as gatekeeper for access to taxation concessions and other benefits based on charity status. Also, determination and oversight of charitable status will continue to be critical as government funded service delivery by the not-for-profit sector grows (for example, as part of reforms to disability services).

Many charities exist beyond human service delivery including arts, culture, environment, religion, science, medical research and education, and good regulation is just as important and relevant for these vital agencies.

The Board considered the basis of good charity regulation. From their combined experience and expertise, they reflected on what principles would best underpin effective and efficient regulation of charities in Australia and agreed on the following principles:

  • Independence of decision-making (free of sector, political or commercial influence)
  • Effectiveness and efficiency in achieving clearly defined policy goals.
  • Clarity, transparency and accountability
  • Fairness and natural justice in decision making and administrative processes
  • Integrity and certainty
  • Proportionality, consistency and regulatory necessity
  • Understanding of, and respect for, the contribution of the sector
  • Integration, consistency and support of other laws, agreements and international obligations.
  • The Board notes that these principles are important for regulation of the sector regardless of what form charity regulation takes in the future.

A strong civil society is underpinned by both the rule of law and, by sound regulation for institutions that receive public funds and concessions. In accordance with the objectives of the ACNC legislation, good regulation should also enhance trust and confidence in the sector, lead to a reduction in unnecessary or inefficient red tape and support the further development of a sustainable sector. Ultimately it must advance the public interest.

I encourage you to read the full Advisory Board paper available on acnc.gov.au

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM
Commissioner
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

Contact us

You can contact us on 13 ACNC (13 22 62) or via email at advice@acnc.gov.au.

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