The ACNC Commissioner, the Hon Dr Gary Johns, has written a piece for Pro Bono Australia regarding the ACNC's exploration of the second object of the ACNC Act.

The full article, as sent to Pro Bono Australia, is below.

Setting the record straight – the purpose of the ACNC’s exploration of the Act’s second object

Our Measures in support of the not-for-profit sector report has been the catalyst for a great deal of discussion within the sector since it was published in late 2018. We welcome this discussion and have found it very helpful. I also note that some concerns have been expressed – specifically that the ACNC should be focussing its attention internally in relation to the second Object, rather than externally.

At the end of the first month of sector consultation (there is more coming), I thought it best to set the record straight on the purpose of this project. The Measures in support of the not-for-profit sector report was intended to be a conversation starter. And, in that sense, it has achieved its purpose.

The second Object of the ACNC Act is to ‘support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector’. Clearly, the Parliament considered that these were attributes of a flourishing charity sector in this country.

Our aim is to illuminate and clarify how we could measure the degree to which the charity sector exhibits each of these attributes.

It really is as simple as that.

Over the past month I have been exploring two questions with charities, academics, researchers and professional advisors:

  • How can we assess the extent to which the charity sector is robust, vibrant, independent and innovative?
  • What information could the ACNC publish to assist in this assessment?

These sessions have given me a fascinating firsthand insight into the different views held across the sector.

This discussion is ongoing; we are yet to finalise any measures relating to the second Object’s attributes. However, one thing is for certain – understanding what a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative charity sector looks like is a priority for the ACNC. It must be, it is written into the legislation. It is a good way for the Commission to support the sector.

If you would like to provide your insights as a charity sector representative, please email us at And to stay up to date with this project, and the many others that are underway at the ACNC, please subscribe to my fortnightly column at