As Australia deals with the pandemic of COVID-19, there is a lot of uncertainty for everyone, charities included.
The ACNC has published a range of resources on its website to assist charities in navigating the uncertainty.
We will continue to update this page as new information becomes available.
I would also like to thank everyone for their understanding and patience this week as we closed our telephone advice line and transitioned to online enquiries only. We are continuing to investigate ways to make our telephone advice line operational whilst most of our staff work from home.
Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters has delivered a message of thanks for the important work charities are doing in the face of recent disasters. In his video address, he talks about the support announced by the Government to assist charities during these challenging times. Below is a personal message from the Minister and a link to his video address.
We will keep you updated to any changes as they occur.
A message from Senator the Hon. Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters
'Recently I’ve heard from a lot of people in the charitable sector about some of the challenges facing them as the nation battles the COVID-19 virus. I know a lot of charities, and your staff, are doing it tough right now as you continue to give a helping hand to those who need it most.
As a Government, we’ve announced some measures to assist the sector through this time, we will continue to look at how we can help the sector over the coming months, and I always welcome your feedback. Please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any feedback or concerns about assistance available for charities at this time.'
Annual Information Statement extensions
Last week I exercised my discretion and granted a blanket extension to charities with a 2019 Annual Information Statement (AIS) due between 12 March and 30 August 2020.
These charities will now need to submit their AIS by 31 August 2020. This advice will be monitored as the COVID-19 crisis progresses.
Eligible charities received notification via email and will have their AIS due date updated on the ACNC Charity Register.
ACNC compliance during COVID-19
In recognition of the challenges brought about by COVID-19, I decided that the ACNC will change its compliance approach temporarily. In these difficult times, it is important to find a balance between supporting charities and ensuring that the public is protected. I believe this new position does that. A detailed explanation of these changes is published on our website.
However, we will still act swiftly and firmly in situations where vulnerable people or significant charity assets are at risk, where there is evidence of serious mismanagement or misappropriation, or if there is a serious or deliberate breach of the ACNC Act or ACNC Regulation.
ANAO releases report on ACNC
Earlier this week the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) released their performance audit report on the Regulation of Charities by the ACNC. The objective of the audit was to assess the effectiveness of the ACNC’s regulation of charities against three high-level criteria that considered whether the ACNC has been effective in:
registering charities and partially effective in maintaining the charity register; and
supporting charities to meet their ongoing compliance obligations, particularly by providing guidance and monitoring charities’ compliance; and
promoting the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on registered charities.
We welcome the ANAO finding that the ACNC has been largely effective in delivering its regulatory responsibilities for registered charities.
The audit recommendations will assist the ACNC to focus our work and ensure our settings with regards to risk, entitlement to ongoing charity registration, data management, and unnecessary regulatory burden are appropriate. They will also assist us in ensuring that resources are allocated to their best effect to deliver effective and efficient regulation that demonstrably supports public trust and confidence in the charities sector.
You can read the full report by the ANAO on their website.
Reporting statistics: 2018 reporting period
Data provided by charities via the Annual Information Statement and financial reports (AFR) demonstrates that charities are complying with their obligations under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Act 2012 (Cth) (the ACNC Act). The information is also published on the Charity Register and www.data.gov.au to promote public trust and confidence in the sector by making information about the work that charities do available to the public.
Each year, the ACNC analyses a proportion of each of these statements to test the integrity of the data provided, and where necessary seeks corrections to errors. The ACNC has released a report which discusses the major reporting statistics identified from our 2018 Annual Information Statement and Annual Financial Report review process – including the most common errors found.
Based on our review this year we saw amendments made to the ACNC register to correct errors totalling $195,522,440 in total revenue $614,226,373 in total assets.
The analysis is available now at https://www.acnc.gov.au/tools/reports/reporting-statistics-2018-reporting-period.
Earlier this week, in conjunction with the Australian Taxation Office, we hosted a webinar on charities, the ACNC and COVID-19.
We have published the recording of the webinar and the presentation slides on our website for anyone who missed the webinar live.
The Hon Dr Gary Johns