No matter how you chose to spend your Easter long weekend, I hope you had the opportunity to enjoy some time away from work with your friends and family.
The Jewish community also began celebrating Passover last week, with the festival concluding this Sunday. And the Greek community will celebrate Easter this coming weekend.
While Easter and Passover are celebrations for the Christian and Jewish communities respectively, they are also a time for philanthropy. I would like to recognise and thank those who have supported charities during these holidays.
ACNC issues Direction to RSL QLD
Late last week we issued a Direction to RSL Queensland in response to significant governance failings identified during our investigation into the charity.
Our investigation found that RSL Queensland breached Governance Standard 5, which requires the charity’s Board to manage its financial affairs responsibly, and act in the best interests of the charity. We also found that the charity had not met financial and operational record-keeping obligations.
We have been working with RSL Queensland over an extended period to help the charity improve its governance.
Late last year RSL Queensland developed a governance plan, in response to our initial concerns. This was a step in the right direction, however, we became concerned about the lack of progress in implementing key aspects of the governance plan.
The Direction, which is a formal compliance power under the ACNC Act, sets out the findings of our investigation, the actions RSL Queensland must take, and possible future regulatory action if the breaches are not addressed.
Unlike much of the information we are able to publish regarding our compliance work, the Direction issued to RSL Queensland is quite detailed and is available to the public on our website. You can find the Direction summary at acnc.gov.au/compliancedecisions and on RSL Queensland’s Charity Register listing.
This announcement follows the Direction we issued to RSL National in March, and the Compliance Agreement we finalised with RSL SA in August 2017.
More information on any of the above is available at acnc.gov.au/compliancedecisions.
In March, bushfires devastated the NSW south coast town of Tathra. It’s a beautiful part of the world, and is a popular Easter holiday destination. More than 60 homes were destroyed, and another 50 were damaged. Our thoughts are with those affected.
The rebuilding effort is already underway, with many local charities, community groups, and volunteers working tirelessly.
On 29 March, the Prime Minister announced that the Tathra bushfires were a disaster for the purposes of establishing Australian disaster relief funds. This means that new and existing funds that provide relief to people in the communities affected by the bushfires are eligible for Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status.
You can read the full announcement on the Prime Minister’s website, pm.gov.au.
If you would like to support the rebuilding effort, you will be able to make a tax deductible donation if you are giving to a fund that is providing support to the Tathra community.
One such fund is the Bega Valley Shire Council’s Mayoral Appeal Fund. The fund is based in the local community, and is overseen by an Independent Advisory Panel, chaired by the Mayor, Cr Kristy McBain.
The fund has already raised over half a million dollars thanks to the community’s generosity.
If you would like more information about the Mayoral Appeal Fund, please visit the Bega Valley Shire Council website, begavalley.nsw.gov.au.
If you are looking to establish a DGR-endorsed fund to help the Tathra community, contact the Australian Taxation Office in the first instance. You can reach their NFP helpline by calling 1300 130 248.
And if you need assistance in setting up a registered charity, you can contact the ACNC by email at email@example.com, or by calling 13 22 62.
Charities still risk revocation
Last fortnight I warned 116 charities that they face revocation for failing to submit two Annual Information Statements.
Only a few charities have completed their outstanding reports, meaning many remain at risk. These charities have until Friday 13 April, which is just a week away, to submit their outstanding reports.
If you have a moment in the coming days please check the spreadsheet, available on our website, to see if you know anyone associated with the charities listed.
We have tried multiple times to contact these charities and unfortunately all attempts have failed. This may mean that the charities have closed down, however, some may still be operating but haven’t updated their contact details with the ACNC.
We certainly don’t want to revoke charities that are out there working away in the community, so please help us get in touch with them if you can.
The full list of charities is available on the ACNC website at acnc.gov.au/doubledefaulters.
The Hon Dr Gary Johns
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