The Crest of the Commonwealth of Australia Treasury Portfolio Ministers
Picture of David Bradbury

David Bradbury

Assistant Treasurer, Minister Assisting for Financial Services & Superannuation and Minister for Competition Policy & Consumer Affairs

5 March 2012 - 18 September 2013

Media Release of 08/03/2013

NO.028

ACNC governance standards to support our charities and our community

Joint media release with
Mark Butler MP
Minister for Social Inclusion

The Gillard Government has today announced that governance standards for charities registered with the independent charities regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), will be tabled in the next sitting week of Parliament.

"Australian charities play a vital role in empowering Australians, fostering strong and inclusive communities and building social capital," said Assistant Treasurer, David Bradbury MP.

"The ACNC governance standards will support our charities by providing a flexible, proportionate and outcomes-focussed regulatory framework.

"They will help ensure that all stakeholders, such as the recipients of social services, volunteers, donors and the broader public, can be confident that a minimum standard of governance is being met across all charities and that the ACNC can act to protect the interests of these stakeholders if necessary."

Today's announcement builds on recent Gillard Government initiatives to support Australian charities, such as the launch of revised Commonwealth Grant Guidelines which will cut red tape and the Government's plan to introduce legislation in March to safeguard the right of NFP organisations to advocate in the interests of the community.

"The Government is committed to strong and effective consultation with the NFP sector, and the ACNC governance standards have been developed through a comprehensive consultation process to ensure all interested stakeholders can provide input and feedback," said the Minister for Social Inclusion, Mark Butler MP.

The Government conducted a roundtable meeting of representatives from the NFP sector in November 2012.  Further feedback on the governance standards was sought by way of a consultation paper released in mid-December and during community presentations held in capital cities and regional centres across Australia.

"Significant improvements have been made to the governance standards in response to feedback received from stakeholders throughout this consultation process," said Minister Butler.

"The Gillard Government thanks all stakeholders for their input as part of this process, and looks forward to working with them to continue to strengthen and support the NFP sector as it grows into the future."

The ACNC governance standards are proposed to commence on 1 July 2013, subject to the special Parliamentary scrutiny provisions of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012.

The main changes made to the draft ACNC governance standards, as contained in the consultation paper released in mid-December, are outlined in the attachment.

The ACNC governance standards are available on the Treasury website.

The ACNC will be providing guidance to assist registered charities with understanding the governance standards.

8 March 2013


Attachment

The ACNC governance standards cover:

  • The purposes and not-for-profit nature of charities
  • Accountability to members
  • Compliance with Australian laws
  • The suitability of those who govern charities
  • The duties of those who govern charities
  • They are not intended to reflect best practice governance, but rather a minimum standard of governance that would be expected by the Australian community.

Following the public consultation process, a number of changes were made to the governance standards, including:

  • inserting references that the governance standards must be interpreted in a manner that is consistent with the objects of the Act and the requirements of section 15‑10 of the Act (in particular, the principles of regulatory necessity, reflecting risk and proportionate regulation, as well as the unique nature and diversity of not‑for‑profit entities and the distinctive role that they play in Australia);
  • removing the governance standard proposed in consultation that specifically covered responsible management of financial affairs;
    • This standard has now been incorporated as part of the governance standard that deals with duties of those who govern charities;
  • clarifying that the governance standard about compliance with Australian law is necessary to trigger the ACNC Commissioner's enforcement powers in the event of a serious breach of the law, and that compliance with the law sets a minimum benchmark by which all entities should govern themselves;
  • clarifying that the governance standard dealing with accountability to members does not mandate annual general meetings, and does not add to the financial reporting requirements that already exist in the ACNC Act; and
  • introducing transitional arrangements that apply until 1 July 2017 and will allow incorporated associations to comply with duties under their State or Territory laws, instead of ACNC governance standard 5, which deals with duties of those who govern charities.  This transitional arrangement arose from consultation on the Council of Australian Governments' Regulatory Impact Assessment on regulatory duplication in the NFP sector.