On Monday, I was pleased to join the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, the Minister for Justice the Hon Michael Keenan MP, and AUSTRAC Deputy CEO Gavin McCairns, in launching the national risk assessment of the Australian charities and not-for-profit sector: Australia’s charities and not-for-profit sector: money laundering and terrorism financing.

The risk assessment was produced in partnership with the Commonwealth financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, and measured sector vulnerabilities that could be exploited for criminal activity, or to promote or support terrorism.

The assessment analysed over 250,000 non-profit organisations that send funds, or operate, overseas. Approximately 54,000 of those analysed fall under the jurisdiction of the ACNC as registered charities.

The key intelligence and data for this risk assessment was sourced from 23 agencies including all Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement bodies and non-profit regulators, including the ACNC, academic research, and from the sector itself through a national survey and a series of roundtables.

The risk assessment found that the current threat of money laundering and terrorism financing, which were assessed independently, is medium.

The report also highlighted factors that increase a non-profit organisation’s money laundering and terrorism financing risk, which will help the ACNC target its compliance and education activity going forward.

This is a world-class risk assessment, and I thank all involved for their contribution.

All charities that send funds or operate overseas should take the time to read this report to ensure that they understand the risks. In fact, understanding the risks associated with sending funds abroad was highlighted as one of the best ways to protect a charity against the threat of money laundering and terrorism financing.

Download your copy of the report at acnc.gov.au/nfprisk.

New RSL SA board commits to resolving ACNC’s concerns

Last week, the ACNC entered into a Compliance Agreement with the new board of RSL SA (ABN: 19219796904). You can find our statements regarding the Compliance Agreement, and a link to the agreement itself, here.

The Compliance Agreement followed an investigation into the operations of the charity, which highlighted serious governance and financial management concerns.

We are pleased with the level of cooperation shown by the interim RSL SA President, Mr Bronson Horan, and his board. By entering into the Compliance Agreement, they have demonstrated their commitment to addressing the concerns we have raised.

The ACNC will closely monitor the charity’s progress via monthly reports, and we expect all issues to be resolved within 12 months.

A full list of the ACNC’s compliance activity can be found on our website at acnc.gov.au/compliancedecisions.

Political advocacy guidance

Ahead of the Federal Government’s Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, the ACNC has received a number queries regarding the right of registered charities to advocate.

To help charities and the public understand this complex area of charity law, our website has guidance that explains advocacy, outlines what charities can and can’t do when undertaking activities, and provides some examples to help charities see the boundaries.

For more information visit acnc.gov.au/politicaladvocacy.

New ACNC podcasts and webinars

Yesterday we published the sixth episode of our podcast, ACNC Charity Chat.

In this episode, Assistant Commissioner David Locke discusses fundraising, focusing on the topic of charities using third-party fundraising agencies. This subject is of great interest to many in the charity sector and the public more broadly, and David speaks about some of the issues involved in this fundraising practice and what the ACNC expects of charities.

Our podcasts are a great way to stay informed about issues facing the charity sector, tips for charity operations and governance, and how charities can meet their obligations to the ACNC.

You can subscribe to ACNC Charity Chat on iTunes, or listen on our website at acnc.gov.au/podcast.

Last week we were joined by over 200 charities for our webinar discussing common compliance pitfalls.

If you missed it, or any of our recent webinars, you can watch them on-demand at acnc.gov.au/webinars.

And if you do take the time to watch or participate in one of our webinars, we’d appreciate your feedback. Each webinar includes a link to complete a short survey, or you can always email our education and guidance team directly at education@acnc.gov.au.

Third Sector Awards finalists

I am pleased to congratulate the many finalists of the Third Sector Awards 2017. These awards provide a great opportunity to highlight individuals doing great things in the not-for-profit sector.

The inaugural winners of the Third Sector Awards will be announced as part of the upcoming Third Sector Live conference, being held in Melbourne from 7 to 8 September.

On 7 September, ACNC Assistant Commissioner David Locke will be joining a Third Sector Live panel discussion on the topic of governance.

The ACNC will also have a stall at the event, so if you are attending, please stop by and say hello.

You can read more about the Third Sector Awards, including the full list of finalists, on Third Sector’s website here.

New obligations for charitable investment fundraisers

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has notified the ACNC of new obligations for charitable investment fundraisers.

From 1 January 2018, charities that issue financial products may have additional obligations; for example, they may need to hold an Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence.

Applications for this licence can take approximately three months, and ASIC recommends that affected charities apply for this licence as soon as possible.

Charitable investment fundraisers can find more information about applying for an AFS licence, and further guidance on charitable schemes on the ASIC website.

Good wishes
Susan Pascoe AM