On 20 December 2017, the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer, the Hon Michael Sukkar MP, announced the review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth) and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Act 2012 (Cth) (ACNC Acts).
The Terms of Reference required the panel:
- to examine the extent to which the objects of the ACNC Acts continue to be relevant
- to assess the effectiveness of the provisions and the regulatory framework established by the ACNC Acts to achieve the objects
- to consider whether the powers and the functions of the Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Commissioner) are sufficient to enable these objects to be met
- to consider whether any amendments to the ACNC Acts are required to enable the achievement of the objects and to equip the Commissioner to respond to both known and emerging issues.
The review found there is strong support for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) and its accomplishments in the first five years, with the sector acknowledging the collaborative and educative approach taken by the ACNC. The Panel considers this approach should continue and there is an opportunity to broaden the use of incentives to encourage good behaviour and use powers available to enforce the law in matters of misconduct.
The report makes 30 recommendations. Among the recommendations and conclusions, a common theme is the need for a national scheme for the sector, requiring a referral of powers from the States to the Commonwealth. The panel is strongly of the view that a national scheme is the best option for the sector going forward, especially in areas such as governance, fundraising and registration. In the absence of a national scheme, the sector will continue to be subject to an unacceptable level of unnecessary red tape.
The recommendations relate to the following matters:
- Objects, Functions, Powers and Advisory Board of the ACNC
- Reporting and proportionality
- Basic religious charities
- Criminal misconduct
- Broadening inclusion of income tax exempt not-for-profits with annual revenue of $5 million or more to the ACNC Register
- Expanding use of Charities Passport by funders and transfer of regulation from ASIC to ACNC for registered entities
- Consolidation of relevant Acts.
ACOSS' media release states that the #FIXFUNDRAISING coalition welcomes the recommendation tabled in the Parliament today to reform fundraising laws through the use of the Australian Consumer Law.
Alice Husband of CRH Law wrote a short 10-point analysis summarising the key points of the review.