Welcome to the winter edition of the ACNC Quarterly newsletter. The cooler weather has brought some positive developments for charities in terms of red tape reduction.
I am very pleased to note recent announcements by both the South Australian and Tasmanian State Governments that will significantly reduce red tape for registered charities.
These changes will make a real impact for registered charities in those states. These charities will now be exempt from having to report to state regulators on certain matters where they meet ACNC reporting requirements. More information is available on page 3.
My congratulations to all involved at state and Commonwealth level, and my thanks to the charities and sector stakeholders that have provided continuous advice on red tape reduction.
The ACNC remains firmly committed to meaningful red tape reduction and I hope to have further announcements for you in future editions of ACNC Quarterly.
Complaints policy for charities
Recently the ACNC has seen an increase in compliance action, with a number of organisations losing their charity status. We continue to receive approximately 70 concerns about charities every month, many relating to financial mismanagement, conflicts of interest and charities failing to fulfil their charitable purposes.
To help charities to avoid these issues we have published a range of guidance materials, including Governance for Good, My Charity and the ACNC, Managing Charity Money, and Charities, Elections and Advocacy.
Many of the concerns that we receive relate to disputes within charities or concerns about a charity’s service. Unless the concern relates to a potential breach of the ACNC Act or indicates wrongdoing by the charity, we are often unable to investigate the matter. To help resolve concerns quickly and effectively, we always encourage members of the public to raise the matter with the charity directly in the first instance.
We expect all charities to have a process for handling complaints. With larger charities there should be a written policy. This becomes particularly important where a charity is providing services to members of the public or is working with children and vulnerable adults. A complaints handling policy should help charities to record and manage issues in a timely, transparent and appropriate manner. We are currently working on new guidance to assist charities to create their own complaints handling policy, if they do not already have one in place.
A charity’s complaints handling policy should set out how the charity will respond to a complaint, how they will investigate or review it, what the complainant can expect from the charity, and what the complainant can do if they are not satisfied with the charity’s response. This will make it easier to resolve complaints from members, donors, beneficiaries and the public. Board members should as part of their governance responsibilities get reports on the nature and handling of complaints made against their charity.
As part of our compliance approach, we ask charities to demonstrate to us how they manage and respond to complaints raised by donors, beneficiaries or the public.
New Advisory Board
I am pleased to introduce to you the new ACNC Advisory Board, which is chaired by Mr Tony Stuart. Tony brings to the role a wealth experience in both the private and not-for-profit sectors, and is also a member of the Prime Minister’s Community Business Partnership.
In early May 2016, the then Treasurer, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, announced the membership of the new board. The new 10-person board includes three members from the inaugural advisory board and the existing ex-officio members.
ACNC Advisory Board members:
- Mr Tony Stuart – Chair (new member/Chair – 3 year term)
- Ms Fiona McLeay – Deputy Chair (continuing member/Deputy Chair – 18 month term)
- Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes (continuing member – 18 month term)
- Ms Gina Anderson (continuing member – 18 month term)
- Professor David Gilchrist (new member – 3 year term)
- Mr Martin Laverty (new member – 3 year term)
- Dini Soulio (continuing ex-officio member representing South Australia)
- Dale Webster (continuing ex-officio member representing Tasmania)
- Cindy Bravos (continuing ex-officio member representing Northern Territory)
- Linda Mallet (continuing ex-officio member representing New South Wales)
I also take this opportunity to thank those who served on the Advisory Board during the establishment phase of the ACNC.
The first meeting of the new board will be in held in July 2016 in Melbourne. Following the meeting a communiqué will be published at acnc.gov.au/advisoryboard.
I look forward to working with the new Advisory Board Chair and members to achieve the Objects of the ACNC Act.