New Charities Act Expands Charity Purpose
17 December 2013 at 8:53 am
The Charities Act will be implemented from January 1, 2014 and the charity regulator, the ACNC says the new legislation expands “charitable purpose” as well as delivers the new charity definition.
The ACNC says the Charities Act 2013 adds reconciliation, human rights, culture, the environment and more to the list of purposes that are considered charitable.
“It recognises that many modern organisations advance causes through education, research and awareness-raising and prevention. It also clarifies the law on charities and native title,” ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe AM said.
“In addition, it protects charities’ right to advocate for policy and lobby on behalf of the groups they benefit.
“These changes taking effect on New Year’s Day are significant for the sector.
“The Act sets out the legal meaning of charity in a language everyone can understand.
“It opens the door to charity status for organisations that do good in new ways – ways that have evolved due to the dramatic changes in our world, our communities and our technologies.”
Charities that need information about what the Act will mean for their organisation can find guidance material on acnc.gov.au.
Pascoe emphasised that charities did not need to worry about the new legislation.
“In general, the ACNC expects that most charities will not have to do anything differently as a result of the Charities Act 2013. Rather, it will give clarity and certainty to the sector,” she said.
The Charities Act will come into operation after a turbulent final week in Federal Parliament in which the Coalition tried to reverse the legislation. The Senate adjourned debate on the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 (which included the amendment to delay the Charities Act) and ran out of time to return to the debate before rising for the holidays.
The future operations of the ACNC are also unclear after the Minister for Social Services Kevin Andrews said he would push ahead with replacing the regulator with a “Centre for Excellence”.
The ACNC has set out advice on the new Charities Act:
- If you are considering applying to be a charity:
The ACNC will have a new online Registration form available from January 10, 2014 with updated guidance available to assist in completing the registration process.
We would recommend you wait until this time so that your application can be considered under the new Act.
- If you already have an application underway
Any organisations whose applications are not submitted by December 31, 2013 will need to complete a new application using the new online Registration form (Available January 10, 2014)
- If you are an existing charity registered with the ACNC
Over time, the ACNC will work with charities registered with the ACNC to transfer them to the new subtypes created by the Charities Act 2013, if these apply to them.
There will be a period of 18 months for this to happen and, in general, the ACNC says it expects that most charities will not have to change their purposes,