Welcome to the Spring issue of ACNC Quarterly

ACNC Quarterly is your source of information about the ACNC and tools to help your charity meet its obligations to the ACNC.

From the Commissioner

As you may have read, my term with the ACNC comes to an end on 30 September 2017. For the past five years, I have been proud to serve as the inaugural ACNC Commissioner.

Since we opened the doors in December 2012, our aim has been to establish the ACNC as a world-leading, digital-by-default charity regulator.

I am amazed at how much we have achieved in this short time, especially as considerable work was completed under sustained uncertainty regarding the future of the organisation.

As the ACNC nears its five-year anniversary, we have matured into a firm but fair regulator that the sector and the public trust will act justly, transparently and responsively.

The next stage in the ACNC’s journey has already begun, with the mandatory five-year review of the ACNC’s legislation occurring in December.

The review will provide a chance for the government, with input from the sector, to assess the impact of the ACNC’s legislation, and to identify any gaps or areas for improvement. I am confident that the review will further refine and improve the way we carry out our role as charity regulator.

Before I sign off for the last time as the Commissioner in an edition of the ACNC Quarterly, I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to Australia’s charities. Every day I am inspired by those who devote their lives to charitable endeavours; it has been a privilege to work closely with them over the past five years.

I also want to thank the current and past members of the ACNC Advisory Board, including the inaugural Board Chair, Robert Fitzgerald AM, and current Chair, Tony Stuart. Their guidance and support has helped the ACNC not only survive, but thrive.

And finally, my deepest appreciation to my colleagues at the ACNC. The ACNC is staffed by 100 of the most dedicated people I have had the pleasure of working with, including Assistant Commissioners Murray Baird and David Locke. Murray and David have helped guide the organisation since day-one, so please rest assured, the ACNC is in safe hands.

It has been my privilege to support and protect Australia’s not-for-profit sector as the ACNC Commissioner. I wish you all the very best in your charitable endeavours.

Good wishes

Susan Pascoe AM signature
Susan Pascoe AM
ACNC Commissioner

Message from Tony Stuart, ACNC Advisory Board Chair and CEO of UNICEF Australia

In June I confirmed that the inaugural Commissioner, Susan Pascoe AM, will finish her five-year contractual term on 30 September 2017.

At that time I thanked Susan for her enormous contribution to the ACNC and Australia’s not-for-profit sector.

That sentiment remains true and steadfast.

Susan has consistently displayed the leadership, integrity and personal drive needed to see the ACNC flourish.

Her leadership was rightly recognised when she was awarded the 2016 Leadership in Government Award for Outstanding Contribution in Public Administration in November 2016, and again when she received the 2017 Third Sector Award for Influencer of the Year (Judge’s Choice) earlier this month (see photo, above).

With Susan as the Commissioner, and with the support of the not-for-profit sector, the ACNC has achieved a great deal in such a short period of time. Since the ACNC was established, it has registered 12,000 new charities, and revoked over 19,000. It has supported the sector through tailored guidance and advice, and created Australia’s first ever online database of charities – the ACNC Charity Register.

Perhaps most importantly, the ACNC has facilitated significant reductions in red tape for our charities, saving them time and money, both of which are better spent on their charitable endeavours.

Under Susan’s leadership the ACNC has both survived and thrived, and now has matured into a world-class charity regulator. It has been both a privilege and pleasure to work with Susan.

The ACNC Advisory Board and I wish Susan the very best for the future.

In August 2017, the Minister responsible for the ACNC, the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, announced the appointment of Susan Alberti AC and Peter Hogan as general members of the ACNC Advisory Board for a period of three years.

In his statement, Minister Sukkar said the appointments “continue to add to the high level of skills and experience available to advise the ACNC Commissioner, ensuring that the ACNC Advisory Board has appropriately qualified members to deal with the variety of issues raised in the charities and not-for-profit sectors”.

The Advisory Board meets every quarter. The next meeting will be held in Sydney on Friday 22 September 2017.

You can read more about the Advisory Board at: acnc.gov.au/advisoryboard.

Last month the ACNC, in partnership with the Commonwealth Government’s financial intelligence agency, AUSTRAC, released the national risk assessment of the Australian charities and not-for-profit sector.

The report, Australia’s Charities and Not-for-profit Sector: Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing, measured sector vulnerabilities that could be exploited for criminal activity, or to promote or support terrorism.

As a first of its kind in Australia, the report analysed over 250,000 non-profit organisations that either send funds to, or operate overseas.

The key intelligence and data was sourced from 23 government agencies. This included all Commonwealth, state and territory law enforcement bodies and non-profit regulators, including the ACNC, academic research, and from the sector itself through a national survey and a series of roundtables.

The ACNC recognises that charities are crucial in getting funds into conflict zones and other unstable regions, and this is not without heightened risk.

The report shows that Australian NFPs can better manage money laundering and terrorism financing risks through good governance, an understanding of risks, strong internal controls, and good accountability.

All charities that send funds or operate overseas should take the time to read this report to ensure that they understand the risks. In fact, understanding the risks associated with sending funds abroad was highlighted as one of the best ways to protect a charity against the threat of money laundering and terrorism financing.

You can download the report at acnc.gov.au/nfprisk.

For many charities, your Annual General Meeting (AGM) is fast approaching.

As your charity takes the time to refresh its rules and discuss important matters, here are some quick tips to help ensure you meet all the requirements for your AGM.

  • Make it interesting. Yes, there are formal requirements, but your AGM is also a great time to celebrate your successes, acknowledge the contribution of volunteers and engage your members.
  • Are there vacancies on the board? Make sure you have enough people who are suitable for the roles.
  • Know your requirements. Check your charity’s rules, constitution and/or relevant legislation; ensure your agenda covers it all.
  • Keep records. Write up and distribute your minutes as quickly as possible – especially if you have a new secretary.
  • Were there changes? Notify the ACNC and other regulators of any changes, and, if needed, submit annual financial and information statements.

The ACNC has a range of resources to help you at acnc.gov.au/AGM.

The ACNC hit the road last month, travelling to Canberra to chat with the charity sector about cuts to red tape in the ACT.

We joined Access Canberra at a special event on 17 August to explain recent legislative reforms for incorporated associations and ACNC-registered charities based in the ACT.

Under the reforms, ACNC-registered charities that fundraise in the ACT no longer need licences to do so. They also no longer need to report annually to Access Canberra, and will be exempt from regulation under the ACT’s Charitable Collections Act.

More on the changes can be found on the ACT Government website, or via acnc.gov.au/ACT.

In further good news on the red tape front, Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) has committed to measures to help streamline reporting for charities across Victoria.

Following the Victorian Government’s passing of the Consumer Acts Amendment Act, CAV has confirmed it will exempt Victorian-based incorporated associations that are registered with the ACNC from state reporting by the end of this year.

It has also committed to streamlining regulations for ACNC-registered charities that fundraise in Victoria in the near future.

The ACNC welcomes the Victorian announcement, with the coming changes building on the already-significant streamlining efforts that are in place for many charities in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT.

To read more about the ACNC’s efforts to streamline reporting for the sector, visit acnc.gov.au/redtapereduction.

More than 96% of charities have submitted their 2016 Annual Information Statement – leaving only 2,500 outstanding.

These late filers are risking financial penalties, as well as having their registration with the ACNC revoked, which can mean losing access to generous Commonwealth charity tax concessions.

The 48,000 charities that have submitted their 2016 Annual Information Statement are not only meeting their legislative obligations, they are also providing donors, grant-makers and government with timely information about their finances and activities.

To ensure your charity is up to date with its annual reporting obligations, simply log into the Charity Portal at charity.acnc.gov.au.

And if your charity is not up to date, act now! We have many free resources to help, including checklists, question-by-question guides, screencasts and webinars.

Visit acnc.gov.au/2016AIS for more.

We spoke with Solaris Cancer Care about the work the charity does.

What does your charity do?

We are the leading provider of “integrative cancer care” – the combined use of mainstream cancer treatment with complementary approaches in a deliberate manner that is personalised, evidence-based and safe.

What challenges does your charity face and how do you overcome them?

Solaris is a small, low-profile volunteer-based organisation that receives no ongoing government funding. This necessitates heavy reliance on the generosity of people from local business and the community.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your work?

Every aspect of our work is rewarding and privileged because we know we are making a difference. This comment from one of our patients says it all: “If cancer patients only do one thing, I would suggest walking into Solaris. This is a serene spot in the midst of trauma and worries all around.”

What tips do you have for charity governance?

Strong, open, regular communication and guidance are key to delivering good governance, along with robust policies and procedures – particularly around fundraising, cash handling and short- and long-term strategic outlooks.

If your charity would like to be featured in our publications, email communications@acnc.gov.au.

We have a wide range of free resources on our website to help people manage their charity.

Charity Chat podcast

Our podcast episodes are a great way to keep up with issues facing charities and obligations to the ACNC. The lively discussions are about 15 minutes long, and cover a range of topics.

Listen on the ACNC website or find ACNC Charity Chat on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.


Many charities want to make their voices heard on social and political issues; however advocacy can be tricky to navigate. Our guidance outlines what charities can and can’t do when undertaking advocacy activities, and provides examples to help charities understand their rights and responsibilities. .

Board remuneration

Decisions on paying board members can be important for a charity, and can often be contentious. Our guidance outlines the things that charities should consider when deciding..

Annual Information Statement Hub

Is your Annual Information Statement due? Need a hand figuring out what’s involved? Visit our new Info Hub to find out what you need to do to get it done. Browse the comprehensive online guide covering all the questions in the statement and download a copy of the checklist.

Advice Services’ most frequently asked questions

How can I reset my password for the ACNC Charity Portal?

If you have lost or forgotten your password, you can reset it online at charity.acnc.gov.au. You will need your charity’s ABN and be ready to answer some questions to confirm that you are authorised to reset the password.

How do I update the contact details for our existing Responsible Persons?

The Charity Portal does not yet have the functionality to allow you to update the details for an existing Responsible Person. If you need to update these details, send an email to advice@acnc.gov.au with the Responsible Persons’ new contact details and we will update them for you.

I got a notice about overdue Annual Information Statements, and now my charity status has been revoked. What can I do?

You need to submit your overdue Annual Information Statements and make sure the rest of your information is up to date. If you do this within 60 days from the revocation date, the reregistration of your organisation will be streamlined. If you take longer than 60 days to do this, you will need to complete a registration form and go through the full registration process.

The ACNC’s free webinars offer a focused, interactive discussion on specific topics, and are designed to help people involved with charities better understand issues facing the charity sector and their obligations to the ACNC.

Upcoming webinars

  • 17 Oct : Charities and fundraising – Issues and risks
  • 14 Nov : A look at Health Promotion Charities and Public Benevolent Institutions
  • 12 Dec : Administration costs and charity spending

Register for free, and check the full schedule of upcoming webinars or view previous webinars at acnc.gov.au/webinars.