ACNC Report Welcomed - Work To Reduce Red Tape Must Continue
Thursday, 14th June 2012 at 9:29 am
Community organisations have welcomed the release of the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission's implementation report, however they said work must continue to ensure the charity regulator remains on track.
Uniting Care Australia, a national body supporting community services, said the implementation report shows that by consulting with the NFP sector, the government has a better understanding of the significant role the sector plays in delivering services to support disadvantaged Australians.
Uniting Care CEO Lin Hatfield Dodds said she welcomes the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commision's (ACNC) commitment to reduce red-tape so NFPs can focus on their core mission of service delivery.
"However, a lot of work still needs to be done to ensure that the ACNC aligns with other regulators across the sector and with both Commonwealth and state/territory agencies to reduce the regulatory burden on the sector," she said.
Uniting Care’s response to the implementation report was echoed by Pilch Connect, a Not for Profit that provides legal assistance to community groups.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to implementing a reporting framework that reduces regulatory duplication and red tape for charities.
“The Charity Passport concept has great potential to reduce duplication, but to be truly ‘red tape reducing’ it will need to be recognised across all Australian governments, and by all government departments and agencies within each level of Government,” Director of Pilch Connect Juanita Pope said.
To be effective, the 'charity passport' may need to include more than 'basic' details in order be accepted by various government agencies – "the challenge is to create a simple, streamlined reporting system that serves multiple purposes," according to Pope.
She added that opportunities exist for the charity passport to encourage government regulators and funding agencies to re-consider the types of reporting they require from charities.
As it stands, many regulators and agencies require similar but not identical information.
"This inefficiency could be alleviated through a ‘report once use often’ framework, coupled with changes in government practices and reporting requirements,” Pope said.
The ACNC Taskforce – charged with laying the foundations for the soon-to-be established national charity regulator – released its implementation report earlier in the week.
The report set out details of the new registration process and provided information on the introduction of the charity passport.
The charity passport will be a set of data on individual charities that the ACNC will collect under registration and reporting requirements so that charities only have to report that data once.
This reporting will meet the baseline corporate and financial reporting requirements of Commonwealth government agencies, according to an ACNC Taskforce statement.
The information attributed to each charity's passport will "only be provided to authorised government agencies to assist in red tape reduction due to the confidential nature of some of the information, such as bank account details," according to the implementation report.
Alex Malley, CEO of CPA Australia, said the implementation report "highlights some very necessary measures to bring about increased financial transparency and accountability in the charities sector".
He stressed the importance of coorindating the Commonwealth, state and territory reporting requirements.
Without agreement on uniform requirments some charities may be burdened with more reporting obligations, not less, Malley said.
"It is critical the 'report once, use often' reporting framework be effectively adopted."
In addition Malley suggested the ACNC might allow alternative reporting dates for charties. He said June 30 – the expected reporting date – is a busy time of year for accounting professioanals, many of whom work full-time in other jobs and provide their services pro bono to charities.
"Changing the date by which charities must report would go a long way to addressing this issue," it would be a "win for common sense," he said.
Minister for Social Inclusion Mark Butler and Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury welcomed the release of the implementation report.
The charity regulator’s start date is 1 October 2012.