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An image of Sue Woodward AM

Recently, I appeared before Senate Estimates in Canberra. It’s one of the many ways we are transparent and accountable to the sector and the public. We take this duty seriously as it supports trust and confidence in our ability to perform fairly and effectively as a regulator.

The same is true for charities. If charities don’t prioritise transparency and accountability, they risk losing the public’s trust and this in turn limits their ability to continue their vital work.

One important way your charity can be accountable is through your annual reporting to the ACNC. Charities are asked a range of questions about their activities and finances and that information is then published on the Charity Register for the public to see.

By the end of this month, many charities will be required to submit their 2022 Annual Information Statements – a core obligation that maintains, protects, and enhances public trust and confidence in the charity sector.

It is disappointing that some charities don’t take this seriously. Earlier this year we notified over a thousand charities they were at risk of having their registration revoked because they had failed to submit two or more Annual Information Statements – despite several reminders. Later, in April, we revoked the registration of more than 700 of those charities.

While many of them may have simply stopped operating, it is still a requirement to notify us. We revoke far more charities for failing to report than for compliance breaches. It is imperative that we do this to maintain the integrity of the Charity Register and the public’s confidence in it.

We have education and support to help you. As we approach the end of the financial year, there are three courses I suggest you look at if you are a new board member or leader of a charity, or if you need a refresher:

  • Reporting Obligations of your charity Part A, which covers basic financial skills,
  • Reporting Obligations of your charity Part B, which covers requirements for medium and large charities, and explains the national accounting standards, different types of financial reports, audits, and reviews, and
  • The Annual Information Statement, which walks through how to complete the AIS quickly, thoroughly, and accurately.

Even if your charity is not due to report in coming weeks, I still encourage you to make sure you are ready to meet your reporting obligations. Being transparent and accountable will help your charity and, because of that, help those you help.

Today, I also have some important ACNC news. After three and a half years at the ACNC, Assistant Commissioner, General Counsel, Anna Longley will be taking up a newly created role at the ATO. Anna will lead Strategy and Intelligence in the Behaviours of Concern, Private Wealth business line.

As General Counsel, Anna has played a key role in the life of the ACNC, including through COVID-19. She has been fully committed to doing her best to help the ACNC mature as a world class regulator with good consultative forums and robust governance. On a personal level, I have enjoyed working with Anna and have greatly appreciated her expertise and support as I have transitioned into my Commissioner role. I wish her the very best in this important role where I am sure she will flourish and enjoy new challenges.

While a full recruitment process takes place, I am pleased to announce that from 13 July the role of Assistant Commissioner, General Counsel will be filled by Natasha Sekulic from Service Delivery in the ATO. Natasha is an experienced lawyer with significant experience in charity and not-for-profit legal issues, and has worked at the ACNC previously.

Warm regards,
Sue Woodward AM