Reform Process Can Deliver NFP ‘Nirvana’ – CPA Conference
Thursday, 10th May 2012 at 12:51 pm
Charity Reform expert Linda Lavarch has predicted that there can be a ‘Nirvana’ for the Not for Profit sector under the current reform process.
Lavarch offered her list of what this might look like when she launched the first of a series of Australia-wide Not for Profit conferences by CPA Australia in Melbourne.
She said her Nirvana list included streamlined funding agreements, the ACNC, a national approach to fundraising, statutory declaration of charity, and a standard chart of accounts.
She said that “increased collaboration with the philanthropic sector” was also vital to the Not for Profit sector.
Lavarch, the Chair of the Not-for-profit Sector Reform Council, opened the conference with a keynote address, focussing on the Council’s undertakings since its establishment almost a year ago.
Lavarch told the more than 100 delegates of the importance of having a national charity regulator.
“Having that national regulation – a centralised approach – brings it all under one banner,” Lavarch said.
“The announcement last May that it was only to apply to charities to start with, but the intent is to cover all Not for Profits over time.”
Of the 600,000 Not for Profits in Australia, it is thought that approximately 10 per cent come under the banner of a charity.
Lavarch said that the ACNC Information Portal is to be up and running by 2013 which will have a public section and will deliver a one-stop-shop for Not for Profits and “be the interface between the sector and the public”.
On the Federal Government’s decision to delay the introduction of the ACNC, Lavarch said the Council’s feedback was on the need to understand the decisions made out of the consultation period.
Lavarch also said that what the Council was concerned with at the time – and is still having discussions around – is that the governance requirements should be settled before the Bill.
“But the governance principles haven’t been settled,” Lavarch said. “So we wanted more discussion about the governance section, and what that would embody.”
Lavarch said that the delay of the ACNC would provide time for more discussion about the Bill itself, the legislation that sets up the Commission, to talk about the Government’s requirements, and the reporting requirements, which are of “most concern” to the Council.
Also discussed was the question of whether there should be a national approach to fundraising with regulation and legislation, and the idea of a statutory declaration of charity.
When discussing the impact of regulation of charities, Lavarch said that the greatest reduction in red tape can only be achieved with national coordination.
She said that the Council had strongly advocated an increase to the length of Commonwealth Government funded grants, which would take away vulnerability and strengthen the sector.
Lavarch was recently appointed Chair of the Not-for-profit Sector Reform Council established by the Federal Government. In 2010, she joined The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Not-for-profit Studies as a Research Fellow.