This week, we are looking forward to hosting the 6th International Charity Regulators meeting in Melbourne.

The meeting, which occurs every 12-18 months, provides charity regulators from common law jurisdictions with a unique opportunity to explore regulatory best practice and effective measures to support the charity sector.

Delegates from eight organisations will be attending, including the Commissioner of Charities in Singapore; the Chief Executive of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator; New Zealand’s Charity Services Acting General Manager; the Canadian Director General of the Charities Directorate; England and Wales Charity Commission Chief Legal Adviser; the Irish Principal Officer of Charity Regulation; along with the ACNC Commissioner and Assistant Commissioners. A representative from the Australian Taxation Office and an observer from the Department of Social Services will also attend.

Opportunity to learn about charity regulation around the world

The International Charity Regulators meeting will be followed by a forum on Thursday 10 April, which will be held in Sydney and convened by the Australian Charity Law Association.

I encourage people with an interest in charity regulation to attend. The forum will provide insight into charity regulation around the world and the opportunity to join in discussion and ask questions about different models of charity regulation.

Assistance in meeting the cost of the forum may be available.

View the registration form for more information.

Reminder – share your experience of red tape in the charity sector

Around 230 charities have already shared their experience of red tape in the charity sector through the online survey. E&Y have provided some interesting early findings from the survey:

  • around half of the respondents think that at least 20 per cent of the time their charity allocates to meeting regulatory obligations is spent on obligations that are unnecessary, burdensome or confusing
  • in approximately one third of charities, the CEO bears the burden of meeting regulatory and reporting obligations.

The ACNC encourages charities of all sizes to participate in the survey, so we can gather accurate data from a range of charities to help us measure and reduce unnecessary red tape.

The survey will close on Friday 11 April 2014.

Annual Information Statement submissions

I wish to again extend my thanks to all the charities that have submitted their first Annual Information Statement to the ACNC.

More than 25,000 charities of the estimated 30,000 which had a 31 March deadline completed their Annual Information Statement on time. We are very pleased with the high level of compliance in our first round of reporting; over 83 per cent of charities submitted their reports on time.

In addition, around 20 per cent of charities have voluntarily filed their accounts at the same time, and more than 22,000 charities submitted their governance documents, which are all published on the ACNC register. While providing us with this information is not yet compulsory, it is helping to build knowledge and enhance the ACNC Register as well as promoting public confidence in the sector.

It is noteworthy that 98% charities submitted online. This will save them valuable time in completing their next statement, as most of the information will be pre-populated.

I am proud of the excellent work done by our Advice team to support charities to submit their statements. In the lead up to the 31 March deadline we received record numbers of phone calls and emails. We also received in excess of 1500 statements in one day, and several charities took the opportunity to use the bulk lodgement process.

If your charity’s Annual Information Statement was due on 31 March and you haven’t yet submitted it, it is not too late to do so. We urge you to complete it as soon as possible and to contact us if you need support. Consistent with the ACNC regulatory approach, charities who have missed their reporting deadlines will receive final reminders prior to any penalties (under the ACNC Act) being applied.

The next ACNC reporting deadline is for charities that report on a calendar year, from January to December. For these charities, the 2013 Annual Information Statement is due by 30 June 2014.

ACNC legislation update

In my last column I noted that the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Repeal) (No. 1) Bill 2014 (Cth) was presented to the House of Representatives. The Bill has since been referred to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee for inquiry and report. Submissions to the report close on 2 May and the reporting date is 16 June 2014.

Should this Bill be passed, it will not take effect until the enactment of a second Bill, which is yet to be released and due to be tabled in the winter sitting of parliament (June­–July). The Government intends the second Bill to contain details of the arrangements replacing the ACNC.

New videos

In supporting charities to understand their obligations to the ACNC, we are constantly looking for accessible, innovative and easy to understand ways to communicate.

Following on from the four educational videos launched in November last year, this week we have published two new promotional videos.

One of the videos is to raise public awareness of the ACNC Register, while the other explains the benefits of the Charity Portal to the sector.

We hope you will find these videos useful and engaging to watch. You can watch them, and all our videos, on the multimedia page of our website.

Good wishes

Susan Pascoe AM
Commissioner
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

Contact us

Our phone number is 13 ACNC (13 22 62) or you can email us at advice@acnc.gov.au.

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