ACNC Opens for Business
30 November 2012 at 11:47 am
Australia’s first charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has officially opened its doors for business announcing it will hit the road in the New Year in a national campaign to explain the ACNC’s proposed regulatory approach.
The Federal Cabinet will be recommending to the Governor General the appointment of Susan Pascoe AM as the inaugural Commissioner of the ACNC. Pascoe has been the interim Commissioner of the ACNC Taskforce since 1 July 2011.
Pascoe said that the establishment of the ACNC, which is headquartered in Melbourne, is a significant and exciting time for the Not for Profit sector.
“Our role as the national regulator is to ensure that these charities continue making valuable contributions to the community, while helping to maintain and enhance the public’s trust and confidence in their work.”
The introduction of the ACNC was announced in the 2011 Federal Budget and is the culmination of numerous reports into the sector, including the 2010 Productivity Commission Report into the Contribution of the NFP Sector.
“Charities in Australia have acknowledged that there is a need for a dedicated and specialist regulator, and that transparency is important when the public’s funds are involved.
“As a regulator, we are committed to finding the right balance between education and guidance, and reporting and compliance. We want to ensure that charities are able to comply with the legislation, but can still focus on their core purpose.
Pascoe says the first stakeholder engagement initiatives is a national program of community presentations including consultation on the proposed ACNC regulatory approach.
“In line with this approach, the ACNC will undertake a national community presentation program in early 2013, with a regional information series, over the following six months also being planned,” Pascoe said.
“The emphasis will be on providing information and education as well as allowing communities within and outside of the major cities to meet with the ACNC.
As part of the community presentations the ACNC will also run a face to face consultation on its proposed regulatory approach and will facilitate the government consultation on governance standards.
“From 1 July 2013, the government intends to introduce governance standards that will apply to all registered charities (except basic religious charities). Before these are finalised, the government will consult further with the sector, and the public more generally, before registering the standards and tabling them before each House of Parliament for its consideration prior to their commencement.”
Pascoe says that with the ACNC legislation now in place, the main purpose of the consultation is to find out what charities and the public think about the ACNC’s regulatory approach and to refine its policies.
“The regulatory approach is largely set by the ACNC Act 2012, however, the ACNC will implement its Act mindful of the sector it regulates.
“Rather than changes to the overall general approach, we expect the sessions to highlight specific opportunities for revision, refinement or improvement.
“The ACNC’s regulatory approach when finalised will be a statement that explains to charities, the community and other stakeholders how ACNC staff will approach their work.
“It will guide ACNC staff in making appropriate and consistent decisions and will set out the relationships between the ACNC’s values, decision?making processes, and the regulatory approach,” she said.
The ACNC says it is particularly interested in feedback on examples of how it could use its enforcement powers and to begin a conversation with the charitable community on its role and work and promote awareness of the general approach to regulation.
There will be an official consultation period which will run over three months commencing in December 2012 just after the ACNC is established, and ending in March 2013, with all materials available at ACNC.gov.au.
During this period the ACNC says it will accept written submissions and online feedback, take calls and hold a number of face-to-face consultation sessions throughout Australia as part of the national community presentation program.
”We are still confirming the final details for the national community presentations but we plan to commence in late January 2013 and travel around the country for just over two weeks ending in mid February,” Pascoe said.
“Our aim is to visit all capital cities, with a number of regional towns also on the itinerary.”
The ACNC says the dates, times, venues and format of the presentations will be available on the new ACNC website in the coming weeks.
“Our priority from day one is to support the sector through this period of change, and I would like to encourage people to contact our advice line, 13 ACNC (22 62), or visit our website, www.acnc.gov.au, if they need any advice or information.
“We are committed to red tape reduction and will work with other government agencies to achieve this.”
The ACNC has responsibility for registering charities, providing education and support, maintaining the ACNC Register, and ensuring compliance through annual reporting.
“The ACNC is committed to working closely with state and territory governments to reduce red tape and simplify reporting.
The formal launch of the ACNC will be held on Monday, 10 December 2012 in Melbourne.