Happy New Year to all.

It has been a challenging few months for many Australians and it was no doubt a tough Christmas period for many. Our thoughts are with all the communities across Australia who have been affected by the widespread bushfires and consequent devastation.

Establishment of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency

On Monday 6 January, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, announced the establishment of the National Bushfire Recovery Agency. The ACNC is working with the Australian Taxation Office, Treasury, and Prime Minister and Cabinet to identify registered charities with deductible gift recipient status that have established bushfire appeals.

The list of charities will be published on the National Bushfire Recovery Agency website. The list will be progressively updated.

Disasters like the present bushfires bring out the generosity of Australians and we continue to recommend that you check the ACNC Charity Register for information about charities you want to support.

There are currently a wide range of appeals raising funds for people and animals affected by the bushfires. Unfortunately, some of these are scams and I encourage people to visit the ACCC ‘Bushfires and Scams’ website for more information.

But, pleasingly, a large spike in traffic to the ACNC website suggests that people are taking the time to check the Charity Register as a way of avoiding scams and ensuring money goes to legitimate charities. Typically we see about 36,000 pageviews on a day, whereas Thursday January 8 had 74,000 pageviews.

This is encouraging as it shows that donors are aware of how important it is to check before giving.

Due date extension for bushfire affected charities

At the end of last year, I announced a blanket extension to the due date for the 2019 Annual Information Statements for charities with an Address For Service in a bushfire affected areas.

The 2019 Annual Information Statements for charities in these areas is now due 31 March 2020. This due date will be reflected on the individual charity records on the Charity Register in due course.

A full list of postcodes that have been granted an automatic extension is published on our website.

This list will be updated as necessary.

If your charity is in an area affected by bushfires and needs an extension but its postcode is not listed, please contact us via email at advice@acnc.gov.au.

2019 Annual Information Statement

There are just over three weeks remaining for charities operating on a standard financial year (1 July to 30 June) to submit their 2019 Annual Information Statement (AIS) before the 31 January due date.

I strongly encourage charities to submit their Annual Information Statement as soon as possible to avoid the last-minute rush.

Completing the Annual Information Statement now will reduce your risk of wait times should you need support from our Advice team during the submission process.

Read our guide to help you prepare to submit your Annual Information Statement.

Submit your Annual Information Statement via the Charity Portal.

Have your say

The Australian Government is currently inviting submissions on the second exposure drafts of the Religious Freedom Bills.

Anyone who wishes to have their say, must make their submission before 31 January 2020.

There is more information available on the Attorney-General’s Department website.

Secondly, the Environment and Communications Legislation Committee are currently considering the Telecommunications Legislation Amendment (Unsolicited Communications) Bill 2019.

The proposed changes would remove the existing blanket exemption for registered charities which allows them to make designated telemarketing calls to consumers registered on the Do Not Call Register.

You can find out more or make a submission via the Committee’s website.

Webinars

Our first three webinar dates and topics for 2020 have been set. The topics and dates are:

How the ACNC investigates charities
19 February 2020

Your charity health check
25 March 2020

Advanced financial reporting for charities
22 April 2020

Find out more about our scheduled webinars and register your attendance via our website.

Best wishes,

The Hon Dr Gary Johns