Commissioners Column - Latest edition out now.

Earlier today, the Chair of the Board of the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA), the Hon. Helen Coonan, announced that David Locke has been appointed as the Chief Ombudsman and Chief Executive Officer of AFCA.

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate David Locke on accepting this new role, which will suit David’s considerable expertise in leadership, relationship building and stakeholder management.

David has been an integral member of the ACNC for almost 7 years, playing a vital role as Chief Adviser to the ACNC Taskforce before his appointment as Assistant Commissioner, Charity Services. He has been an essential part of the fabric of the ACNC.

I personally would like to thank David for his outstanding service and commitment to the ACNC – it has been a pleasure to work with him, and he leaves behind a well-founded and highly skilled team of staff who are ready to continue his exemplary service to Australia’s charity sector.

I am pleased to announce that Prue Monument, the ACNC’s Director of Compliance, will be acting in the role of Assistant Commissioner, Charity Services.

You can read AFCA’s media release on their website.

Red tape relief for thousands of Victorian charities

Last week we were thrilled to announce that the red tape burden will significantly reduce for thousands of Victorian charities, after the Victorian Government signed an exemption order to remove duplicate reporting requirements for incorporated associations.

Charities registered with the ACNC that are also incorporated associations will no longer need to:

  • lodge an annual statement with Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV), and
  • pay an annual statement lodgement fee to CAV.

Instead, these charities will continue to submit their ACNC Annual Information Statement each year, and we will share the relevant data with CAV on the charity’s behalf.

This is an exciting announcement and it highlights the ongoing collaboration between the ACNC and the Victorian Government. My thanks to all involved.

Victoria has joined South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT in their commitment to streamlined reporting arrangements for charities. I hope to be able to announce that more states are on board later this year.

Some exceptions may apply. For more information about the changes, or to determine if they apply to your charity, visit acnc.gov.au/VIC or the Consumer Affairs Victoria website.

2017 Annual Information Statement due soon for many charities

Thousands of charities reporting on a calendar year (from 1 January to 31 December) are required to complete their 2017 Annual Information Statement before 30 June 2018. Many of these charities have already received reminder emails or letters, encouraging them to submit their Annual Information Statement as soon as possible.

As we approach the 30 June deadline, we generally see traffic to our website to increase significantly. If you are ready to submit your charity’s statement, I recommend doing so as soon as possible to avoid potential system slowness closer to the due date.

We are aware that there have been significant issues with the reliability and responsiveness of the ACNC website and Charity Portal over the past few weeks. Our IT team has worked day and night with our service providers to resolve these issues, and our systems should be much more stable going forward. I’d like to thank you for your patience and apologise for any inconvenience caused.

If you need assistance in submitting the 2017 Annual Information Statement we have a range of free resources, including a step-by-step guide and how-to videos. These are available on the ACNC website at acnc.gov.au/2017AIS.

And if you’re ready to submit your 2017 Annual Information Statement, log in to the ACNC Charity Portal now.

Financial penalty final warnings

The vast majority of registered charities meet their annual reporting obligations to the ACNC, however, each year we find a small group who refuse to do so. Unfortunately, for some charities only the threat of financial penalties of revocation of charity status prompts action.

Earlier this week we sent final warning notices to 40 of Australia’s largest charities. Due to the size of these charities, the financial penalty can be up to $4,500.

If your charity received one of these final warnings, please submit immediately.

And if you’d like to check to make sure your charity is up to date with its annual reporting obligations, you can do that simply and easily by logging into the ACNC Charity Portal at charity.acnc.gov.au.

Meeting local charities in the Sunshine State

It was my pleasure to spend last week in Brisbane, taking the opportunity to meet with local charities and not-for-profit leaders to learn more about their work and discuss the challenges their organisations are facing.

I’d like to thank the team at Communify Queensland, who welcomed me to their base in Bowen Hills and shared their insights from 40 years of service to the local community.

I look forward to meeting with other charities around the country, and hearing more about the diversity and achievements in Australia’s vital charity sector.

How to find registered charities this End of Financial Year

Our country is extremely generous, donating billions to registered charities each year. Annually giving tends to spike in both December and June, ahead of Christmas and the end of the financial year.

If you’re looking to donate to a registered charity ahead of 30 June, I encourage you to check that the organisation is registered with the ACNC and up to date with its annual reporting.

You can do so by searching the ACNC Charity Register by name or ABN at acnc.gov.au/findacharity. The Charity Register contains a range of information about over 56,000 registered charities in Australia – including a charity’s activities, beneficiaries, financial details and more.

Our education team are also hosting a free webinar on Tuesday 19 June to explain how to search the Charity Register, and make the most of the information we make available to the public. For more information or to sign up, visit acnc.gov.au/webinars.

Best Wishes

The Hon Dr Gary Johns

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