As my term as the inaugural Commissioner ends this week, and as the ACNC approaches its five-year anniversary, I want to recognise the development of the ACNC as an agency. The ACNC has matured into a firm and fair regulator, one that the charity sector and the public can trust will act justly, transparently and responsively.
On Tuesday, I gave my final speech as Commissioner of the ACNC at a Five Year Retrospective seminar that included a welcome from the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, and a response from ACNC Advisory Board member and Emeritus Professor, Myles McGregor-Lowndes. You can read my reflections on my five years as Commissioner at acnc.gov.au/5yearreflection.
Over the last five years, I have been inspired every day by those who devote their lives to charitable endeavours; it has been a privilege to work with you. I want to thank you for your tireless dedication and enormous contribution to the community.
I also want to thank the current and past members of the ACNC Advisory Board, including the inaugural Board Chair, Robert Fitzgerald AM, and current Chair, Tony Stuart. Their guidance and support has helped the ACNC not only survive, but thrive.
And finally, my deepest appreciation to my colleagues at the ACNC. The ACNC is staffed by 100 of the most dedicated people I have had the pleasure of working with, including Assistant Commissioners Murray Baird and David Locke. Murray and David have helped guide the organisation since day-one, and will continue to do so after I have departed. It is expected that one of the Assistant Commissioners will serve as Acting Commissioner until the government announces the appointment of the new Commissioner.
Engaging with the charity sector
Last Thursday the ACNC Advisory Board hosted a roundtable in Sydney for a small group of CEOs from charities and peak and professional bodies. It was a great opportunity to hear directly from a small group of well-informed leaders of their challenges and achievements. During my term as Commissioner, I have been grateful for the chance to meet face-to-face with people from the not-for-profit sector and hear directly about the issues that matter to them.
While in Sydney we also attended the ACNC’s Advisory Board meeting. The Advisory Board furthered its discussions on the next stage in the ACNC’s journey, with the Federal Government’s mandatory five-year review of the ACNC’s legislation commencing in December.
The next Advisory Board meeting will be held on 2–3 November 2017 in Melbourne.
You can read more about the ACNC Advisory Board at acnc.gov.au/advisoryboard.
Launch of Australian Catholic Bishops Social Justice Statement
Last Monday, I co-launched the Australian Catholic Bishops’ 2017–2018 Social Justice Statement in Melbourne, entitled Everyone’s Business: Developing an inclusive and sustainable economy.
I was proud to share the podium with Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen, Chairman of the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council, and Fr Frank Brennan, Chief Executive of Catholic Social Services Australia.
This year’s Statement calls on Australians to work for an economy that is based on principles of justice and equity – one that is at the service of all, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalised.
At the launch, I noted the hard-work and dedication of many charities in the areas of welfare, disability, homelessness, mental illness and supporting marginalised groups.
I applaud the Australian Catholic Bishops for speaking for the marginalised and the vulnerable through this statement.
You can read the current and past Social Justice Statements here.
2017 Annual Information Statement
Since we launched the 2017 Annual Information Statement on 24 July, there has been a very positive response, with more than 1,600 charities already submitting the online form.
We encourage all organisations to submit their 2017 Annual Information Statement as soon as possible to avoid any system slowdowns that can occur during peak periods.
Completing your 2017 Annual Information Statement also means the most up-to-date information about your charity appears on the ACNC Charity Register.
We have made major changes to the support materials available to help charities complete their 2017 Annual Information Statement. These include the new Annual Information Statement Hub, improvements to the form itself, and enhanced support and guidance materials.
Visit the Annual Information Statement Hub for more.
New ACNC podcast – advocacy
In this week’s episode of our new podcast series, ACNC Charity Chat, Assistant Commissioner Murray Baird discusses charities engaging in advocacy.
Murray notes that there is scope for legitimate advocacy by charities, but there are boundaries. The discussion examines where advocacy can become a concern for charities, the risks of having a political purpose, and the importance of making sure advocacy is tied to a charitable purpose.
You can subscribe to ACNC Charity Chat on iTunes, or listen on our website at acnc.gov.au/podcast.
Upcoming webinar – Tuesday 17 October
Our next free webinar will be held at 12pm AEST on Tuesday 17 October.
This webinar has been designed specifically for charities that fundraise. We will look at how charities need to have oversight of their fundraising activities, and talk about issues that charities need to look out for.
You can find the recordings of our past webinars and sign up for future webinars at acnc.gov.au/webinars.
After having a very short break, I will begin the next chapter of my career by joining and chairing a number of boards, including the newly formed Community Directors Council.
It has been my privilege to work so closely with Australia’s registered charities for the last five years, and I very much look forward to continuing this relationship in different roles.
Farewell and good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM