The long-awaited Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), Australia’s first national charity regulator, is expected to commence operation in December.
ACNC Advisory Board Chair Designate Robert Fitzgerald said the passing of the ACNC legislation on October 31 would allow the commission to benefit the entire not-for-profit sector.
“I have every confidence that the new commission will serve to support and enhance our country’s valuable not-for-profit sector. It will also deliver for the Australian community at large,” Mr Fitzgerald said.
ACNC Advisory Board Commissioner Designate Susan Pascoe said a register of Australian charities would be one of the first items delivered by the commission. She said the register would help both the public and the charitable sector.
“The online ACNC Register will make it possible for people to find basic information about registered charities easily, helping them make informed choices about the charities they choose to support,” Ms Pascoe said.
“The Register will also be an effective way for charities of all sizes to demonstrate that they are registered and that they have a legitimate charitable purpose,” she said.
Ms Pascoe said the ACNC would become a commission that supported and strengthened a thriving not-for-profit sector.
“Making interactions with government more efficient so that charities can get on with their core mission is one of the most important ways we can achieve this,” she said.
The passing of the legislation followed acceptance of a series of amendments put forward by the Australian Greens, including safeguards against gag-clauses.
Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said acceptance of the recommendations would ensure further reduction of red-tape for not-for-profits.
“Not-for-profit organisations have consistently identified red tape reduction as an important area which needs to be addressed. I am confident that this legislation strikes a sensible balance between transparency and accountability and the burden of reporting,” Senator Siewert said.
"Other recommendations have ensured that there will be annual reports to Parliament on the progress of the Commission towards red-tape reduction, as well as ensuring that the Governance Standards will be outcome focused, and based on consultation with the sector,” she said.
“At its heart, this legislation strives to make the not-for-profit sector stronger, offering important protections and reducing unnecessary burdens to allow operators to focus on what they do best – filling an essential role in our society.”