Victoria Addresses Fraud in Fundraising
25 June 2001 at 1:06 pm
The Victorian Government has moved to amend the Fundraising Appeals Act to tighten loopholes to stop unscrupulous operators, to lift the administrative burden on small charities and to provide adequate protection for the public.
Victoria’s Minister for Consumer Affairs Marsha Thomson tabled the new legislation in Parliament after an inquiry and public discussion paper on fundraising activities in November last year.
The legislation offers some significant changes to the way charities can collect money and brings Victoria into line with several other states, particularly NSW.
The amendments include:
1. A registration scheme for fundraisers that will replace the current notification of appeals scheme.
2. Provision for exemptions from registration to be made by Ministerial Order. It is proposed for example to exempt small volunteer organisations if they raise less than $10,000 in a financial year.
3. Stronger enforcement powers to help prevent unscrupulous fundraising and to protect the consumers. One of the key enforcement tools is the proposal of a ‘naming power’ meaning the Minister or Department Director can warn consumers by publicly naming fundraisers who are disreputable, who do not have a permit or whose fundraising practices are suspect.
4. A provision enabling the Department of consumer Affairs to require a registered fundraiser to distribute a specific proportion of appeals assets to the appeal beneficiaries.
5. A ‘public register’ of all fundraisers. This will allow consumers to find out about all registered fundraisers and appeals. The register may include information relating to a fundraiser stating the proportion of the assets of an appeal that have been distributed to the beneficiaries.
The Minister Marsha Thompson says the amendments will be a major step in the direction of increasing consumer confidence in fundraising.
She adds that genuine fundraisers suffer from shonky operators undermining consumer confidence. In the last six months Consumer Affairs has taken court action and stopped five fundraising appeals that were found to breach the Fundraising Appeals Act.
Consumer and Business Affairs Victoria will conduct a public awareness campaign based on the amendments.
The Minister says the key message will be “know which fundraiser you’re giving your money to”.
Let us know your opinion of the changes to the Act via our web site Forum at probonoaustralia.com.au.