Last week marked the end of my second year as ACNC Commissioner. In the last two years I have travelled far and wide across Australia visiting charities, finding out about the challenges faced, and the successes celebrated. I look forward to meeting with even more charities in 2020.

2019 has been a year of change for the ACNC. We have welcomed several new senior staff to the team this year. As well as our new Assistant Commissioner, General Counsel, Anna Longley, we have welcomed our new Compliance and Legal Directors. I look forward to working closely with them in 2020.

In 2020, the ACNC expect to hear the Government’s response to the five year review of the ACNC Act, as well as receive the full findings report from the Australian National Audit Office’s audit of the ACNC. We will also commence reviewing deductible gift recipient (DGR) charities for ongoing eligibility for registration first announced as part of the governments DGR reforms in 2017.

Another focus for 2020 will be increasing the quality of information the ACNC collects and displays on the ACNC Charity Register. This is in preparation for work underway to improve access to data and enhance the search tools on the ACNC Charity Register.

I look forward to providing further updates on our 2020 projects throughout the year.

Christmas giving

Each year, the holiday season sees an increase in charitable donations, with many Australians looking to support local charities.

I encourage anyone that wants to donate to charity this Christmas to do so with confidence by searching the ACNC Charity Register at acnc.gov.au/findacharity.

Our searchable database provides information about Australia’s 57,000 charities, including the activities they undertake, where they operate and who they support. It also provides access to charity Annual Information Statements and financial reports.

Read our safe giving advice here.

Due date extension for bush fire affected charities

As mentioned in my column on 14 November, I’ve issued a blanket extension to the due date for the 2019 Annual Information Statements for charities with an Address For Service in the fire affected areas.

These Annual Information Statements will now be due 31 March 2020.

The list of affected postcodes in New South Wales and Queensland that have automatically been granted an extension are:

New South Wales
Armidale regional: 2350, 2351, 2359, 2360, 2365, 2369, 2370, 2440, 2453
Bellingen: 2448, 2449, 2453, 2454, 2455
Cessnock: 2250, 2320, 2321, 2322, 2323, 2325, 2326, 2327, 2334, 2335
Clarence Valley: 2365, 2370, 2450, 2453, 2456, 2460, 2462, 2463, 2464, 2465, 2466, 2469, 2472
Coffs Harbour: 2450, 2452, 2454, 2456, 2460
Glen Innes Severn: 2365, 2370, 2371
Inverell: 2360, 2361, 2365, 2369, 2370, 2371, 2403, 2410, 4385
Kempsey: 2431, 2440, 2441
Lismore: 2470, 2471, 2472, 2477, 2480
Mid-Coast: 2312, 2324, 2337, 2415, 2422, 2423, 2424, 2425, 2426, 2427, 2428, 2429, 2430, 2443
Nambucca: 2441, 2447, 2448, 2449, 2454
Port Macquarie-Hastings: 2429, 2439, 2440, 2441, 2443, 2444, 2445, 2446
Richmond Valley: 2469, 2470, 2471, 2472, 2473, 2480
Tenterfield: 2371, 2372, 2469, 2475, 2476, 4375, 4377, 4380, 4383
Uralla: 2350, 2354, 2358, 2359, 2365
Walcha: 2354

Queensland
Noosa: 4562, 4563, 4565, 4566, 4567, 4568, 4569, 4571, 4573
Livingstone: 4700, 4701, 4702, 4703, 4704, 4705, 4706, 4710, 4711, 4741
Somerset: 4306, 4311, 4312, 4313, 4314, 4342, 4346, 4514, 4515
Toowoomba: 4314, 4350, 4352, 4353, 4354, 4355, 4356, 4357, 4358, 4359, 4360, 4361, 4363, 4364, 4365, 4400, 4401, 4402, 4403, 4404, 4405, 4407, 4614

Additional postcodes may be added.

If you are in an area impacted by bushfires and your postcode is not listed above, and you require an extension of time to lodge, please contact Advice Services via advice@acnc.gov.au and request an extension.

Whistleblowers Protection Policy

By 1 January 2020, large charities that are companies limited by guarantee will need to have a Whistleblower Protection Policy which meets the requirements set out in the Corporations Act.

ASIC recently released guidance on developing a Whistleblower Protection Policy.

Small and medium charities that are companies limited by guarantee are exempt from meeting the requirement to have a whistleblower policy but are required to manage whistleblowing in accordance with the Corporations Act.

For more information on whistleblower protection, visit the ASIC website.

Electoral donations reform in Queensland

In November 2019 the Electoral and Other Legislation (Accountability, Integrity and Other Matters) Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced to the Queensland Legislative Assembly.

The Bill is now before the Economics and Governance Committee to conduct an inquiry and report back to the Legislative Assembly.

The Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs website has an information paper that provides a detailed summary of the proposed Bill. You can also seek further information or provide feedback via their website.

Farewell to 2019

As this is my last column for 2019, I would like to take this opportunity to remind all readers that the ACNC will be closed from 12 noon on Tuesday 24 December 2019 and will reopen at 9.00 am on Thursday 2 January 2020.

If you have a pending application to register a charity, or submit an enquiry during this period, please be patient, the team will respond as soon as they can in 2020.

I would also like to thank everyone for their continued support in 2019 and look forward to another productive year in 2020.

And finally, I wish you a merry Christmas, an enjoyable festive season, and a Happy New Year.

Best wishes
The Hon Dr Gary Johns