The national charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), has issued a Direction to RSL Queensland, after an investigation into the charity found serious governance failures.
The Direction, published today on the Charity Register, sets out the findings of the ACNC’s investigation, the actions RSL Queensland must take, and possible future regulatory action if the breaches are not addressed.
The ACNC Commissioner, the Hon Dr Gary Johns, said the Direction required the charity to address a number of serious issues.
“Our investigation found RSL Queensland has breached Governance Standard 5, which requires the charity’s Board to manage its financial affairs responsibly, and act in the best interests of the charity,” Dr Johns said.
“The investigation also found that the charity has not met financial and operational record-keeping obligations.”
Commissioner Johns confirmed that the ACNC and RSL Queensland have been working together over the past year, however the progress of reforms has been an issue.
“The ACNC has been working with RSL Queensland over the last year to improve their governance,” Dr Johns said.
“In late-2017, RSL Queensland developed a governance plan in response to the ACNC’s concerns. This was a step in the right direction, however, we are concerned about the lack of progress in implementing key aspects of the governance plan.
“Therefore, we have issued this Direction, which is a formal enforcement power, to outline several actions RSL Queensland must take to address the breaches and get back on track.
“To their credit, RSL Queensland have unanimously accepted the terms of the Direction, and have committed to implementing the reforms.
“This includes engaging a governance expert to oversee the implementation of a ‘Good Governance Guide’, as set out under the charity’s governance plan, and to conduct a review on the Board’s performance and effectiveness.
“There is a great deal of work to be done to ensure that RSL Queensland can resolve these significant governance issues.
“However, I am encouraged by RSL Queensland’s response to this Direction, and I am hopeful that we can continue to work with them to improve and strengthen the charity’s governance.”
RSL Queensland Chief Executive Officer Luke Traini said the charity had been modernising and transforming its services, but noted that there is still work to be done.
“Over the past year, we have worked closely with the ACNC to improve and upgrade the Board’s governance and compliance policies and we remain committed to building a strong, transparent organisation,” Mr Traini said.
“The actions contained in the ACNC’s Direction will be implemented as soon as possible, and the RSL Queensland Board is currently revising its Constitution to pave the way for a skills-based Board.”
The ACNC will monitor RSL Queensland’s progress against the Direction over the next 12-months.
Other ACNC/RSL compliance activities
The ACNC has been working with a number of RSL charities to rectify serious governance failures and restore confidence, including:
- Issuing a Direction to RSL National in February 2018.
- Entering into a Compliance Agreement with RSL SA in August 2017.
- Open investigations into both RSL NSW and RSL LifeCare.
ACNC compliance powers
The ACNC’s compliance powers include providing regulatory advice, enforceable undertakings, directions, suspending or removing board members, and ultimately, revoking charity status.
Revocation of charity status removes an organisation’s entitlement to access Commonwealth charity tax concessions.
ACNC media contact: email@example.com or 0466 089 108
RSL Queensland media contact: Fran Metcalf on 0417 627 867 or Siobhan Dooley on 0417 500 787.