3 August 2021

Stronger standards for charities engaging in unlawful behaviour tabled in Parliament

The Government has tabled regulations in Parliament that strengthen governance standards to ensure registered charities do not engage in or actively promote unlawful activity.

The regulations reaffirm that compliance with Australian laws sets a minimum benchmark by which all registered charities should govern themselves.

These important regulatory changes will give Australians greater confidence that the charities they support will direct their resources towards charitable works. Australians support charities through donations and tax concessions with the expectation that charities’ resources are not directed to the promotion of or participation in unlawful activities.

Australia’s nearly 59,000 registered charities undertake important and valuable work with some of the most vulnerable people in our community. By strengthening the governance standards for registered charities, the Government is reinforcing the trust that Australians have in the charity sector.

The changes will empower the ACNC Commissioner to investigate registered charities engaging in or actively promoting theft, vandalism, trespass or assault and threatening behaviour, and to take appropriate enforcement action if warranted.

Registered charities that act lawfully and do not use their resources to actively promote others to engage in unlawful activities are already compliant with the amended governance standard. In line with current practices, charities will not be deregistered for inadvertent or unintentional non-compliance. Education still underpins the ACNC’s regulatory approach and revoking registration is reserved for serious or deliberate contraventions.

The ACNC will provide guidance to registered charities once the amended standard comes into effect to help them understand and comply with the governance standard.