I would like to thank everyone for their patience last week, as we navigated IT system issues during the peak Annual Information Statement submission period.

Even though almost 70% of charities that were required to submit their 2018 Annual Information Statement by 31 March 2019 have already done so, we are aware some charities encountered technical issues.

Because of this, I am exercising my discretion to grant a further seven-day extension to the charities who had a due date of 31 March 2019. The extension means that penalties will not apply if you submit your 2018 Annual Information Statement by 7 April 2019.

I am also pleased to report that the issue that caused the slowness that many charities experienced has been resolved. The speed has improved significantly.

To the 11,000 charities that have not submitted their 2018 Annual Information Statement yet, I encourage you to submit as soon as possible.

To submit the Annual Information Statement log into the new Charity Portal at charity.acnc.gov.au. If you need a hand, there is a video and step-by-step instructions available on our website at acnc.gov.au/charityportal.

More information about the 2018 Annual Information Statement, including a helpful checklist and guide, is available on the ACNC website at acnc.gov.au/2018AIS.

My visits to Adelaide and Perth

Last week I travelled to Adelaide to meet with the University of South Australia’s Business School and local charities. Whenever I travel, I always try to meet with local charities to discuss their work and how the ACNC can help.

While in Adelaide I met with Helen Glanville, CEO of Second Chances South Australia. Helen and her team support families and children in South Australia who have been affected by a person going to prison.

I also met with the Susanne Collins Angas Memorial Fund which has been operating in South Australia since 1909. The charity provides emergency relief to people in rural and remote communities in South Australia.

It was a pleasure to meet with both charities to hear their triumphs and tribulations.

Later in the week I travelled across the Nullarbor Plain, by plane, to Perth. On Friday I spoke at CPA Australia’s Western Australian Not-for-profit Forum. This was another opportunity to discuss the ACNC’s priorities for the years ahead with a key stakeholder group.

While I was in Perth, I had the opportunity to meet with the Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS), Hope Community Services Ltd, The Dyslexia-SPELD Foundation WA and the Wilderness Society WA.

My thanks to the charities in WA who met with me and shared their story. There is so much important work being done by the charity sector across Australia.

Second Object of the Act

Last week I wrote a piece for Pro Bono Australia regarding the ACNC’s exploration of the second object of the ACNC Act. Given some concerns have been expressed, I thought it was best to set the record straight on the purpose of this project.

The second Object of the ACNC Act is to ‘support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector’. If we are to support the sector, it is necessary to illuminate and clarify how we could measure the degree to which the charity sector exhibits each of these attributes. The means of support is to publish data. The Commission is, after all, the premier data agency for the sector.

It really is as simple as that.

You can read the statement in full on our website, here, and if you would like to provide your insights as a charity sector representative, please email us at consultations@acnc.gov.au.

I will continue to update you on this project via this column as it progresses.

New self-evaluation tool for charities

We recently published a new resource to help charities ensure they are complying with the ACNC Governance Standards and meeting their obligations to the ACNC.

The self-evaluation tool is a fillable PDF that helps charities describe the practical steps they are taking to meet their obligations, and prompts them to list the relevant policies or procedures.

Charities do not need to complete the PDF and return it to the ACNC. It is not part of a charity’s obligations to the ACNC.

While using the self-evaluation tool is entirely optional, I encourage charities to use this resource to help them identify any issues that may prevent them from meeting their obligations. Answering ‘no’ to any one question does not necessarily indicate that your charity is not complying, but it should prompt you to consider your charity’s governance.

You can access the self-evaluation tool on our website.

ACNC Webinar on avoiding charity pitfalls and staying out of trouble

We will be hosting our next free webinar on 18 April 2019 at midday (Sydney/Melbourne time). This webinar will help charities avoid common pitfalls and stay out of trouble.

The webinar will be co-hosted by our Director of Compliance, Prue Monument, and her Compliance colleagues will be on-hand to answer any of your questions.

This topic is always popular, so I encourage you to book now to secure your spot.

You can find out more information and register your attendance on our website here.

Best wishes,

The Hon. Dr Gary Johns