Firstly, my thanks to Assistant Commissioner David Locke for holding down the fort at ACNC headquarters while I attended the International Charity Regulator’s Conference in Canada. The conference brought together regulators from common law countries, and we all shared our insights and approaches to charity regulation. I’ll discuss the conference in more detail below.
Red tape reduction progress for Victorian charities
Yesterday I watched the proceedings of Victorian Parliament with great interest as a Bill was debated, and passed, that will lead to significant red tape reduction for thousands of registered charities in Victoria.
The Consumer Acts Amendment Bill 2016 is an omnibus bill that facilitates streamlining across the consumer affairs portfolio in Victoria. Importantly, it created the power for the appropriate state government Minister to exempt cohorts of incorporated associations from having to report directly to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV).
We expect that this new power will see an end to the duplicative reporting requirement for Victorian incorporated associations that are registered charities. We will work with the Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation, the Hon Marlene Kairouz, and CAV to ensure that this group of registered charities will no longer be required to report to CAV and will only be required to report to the ACNC as the national charity regulator.
I applaud the action taken by the Victorian state government, which follows legislative changes in Tasmania, South Australia, and the ACT. I am confident that announcements by other state and territory governments are on the horizon.
Be sure to subscribe to my Commissioner’s Column and the ACNC’s social media accounts for updates on red tape reduction initiatives. You can sign up for email notifications at acnc.gov.au/signup.
International Charity Regulator’s Conference
The ACNC’s General Counsel, Murray Baird, and I attended the International Charity Regulator’s Conference in Ottawa in late April. These meetings are held every 18 months and bring together senior personnel from charity regulators in common law countries to discuss issues of mutual interest. The sessions are conducted under Chatham House rules so that open and frank discussions of issues can take place.
On any international comparison, the ACNC is fortunate – we were created in a digital era; we have objects that compel us to support the sustainability of the sector, and red tape reduction; and we adopt a principles-based approach. This shapes the unique kind of regulator we are – one that understands and is concerned for the sector we regulate.
The group discussed a broad range of technical, regulatory and policy matters. It was an excellent forum for testing ideas, sharing practice, and comparing policies and programs.
Flowing from this group a number of communities of practice meet regularly by phone hook-up – the ACNC chairs the Compliance Community of Practice.
Australia’s Smallest Charities Report 2015
As regular readers of this column would know, each year the ACNC aggregates and analyses the data charities provide in their Annual Information Statement - and this is published in the Australian Charities Report.
In addition to the main report, which reported the findings of all registered charities, we also commissioned a report on Australia’s smallest charities, meaning those with annual revenue of $50,000 or less.
The report includes a number of real case studies that shine a light on the fantastic work being done by what we consider to be ‘extra small’ charities.
It might surprise some to find that there are 19,000 ‘extra small’ charities in Australia, which accounts for 37% of all registered charities.
These charities are well supported by their local communities, and benefit from the time and energy of over 430,000 volunteers. Four out of five extra small charities actually operate with no paid staff at all.
You can find the findings from our new report, Australia’s Smallest Charities 2015, and the full Australian Charities Report 2015, at australiancharities.acnc.gov.au.
If you have missed one of our recent webinars, for example our in-depth look at the findings from the Australia Charities Report 2015, don’t worry, you can watch them on-demand on our website.
We have also uploaded the full schedule for the rest of 2017, including our next webinar on 23 May – Running a charity.
You can find the recordings of our past webinars and you can also sign up for future webinars at acnc.gov.au/webinars.
If you do take the time to watch or participate in one of our webinars, we’d appreciate your feedback. After each webinar there is a link to complete a short survey, or you can always email our education and guidance team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Susan Pascoe AM