New Law Cuts Red Tape for SA Charities
27 May 2016 at 2:53 pm
South Australian charities have seen a significant “win” with the passing of a new law that will slash red tape.
The Statutes Amendment (Commonwealth Registered Entities) Act will exempt charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) from reporting separately to the state government and from holding an SA fundraising licence.
The bill was passed in both houses of Parliament without amendment or opposition on Tuesday.
SACOSS chief executive officer Ross Womersley said it was a “good win” for the sector.
“It is one of the most helpful bits of red tape reduction that we have been able to achieve,” Womersley told Pro Bono Australia News.
“We’re pretty excited that the government has taken the initiative and embraced the advice from the sector and I think that in the long run – well it won’t even be very long – before sector organisations see real benefits and a real reduction in the red tape that sometimes surrounds our work.”
The bill was first put forward in 2013 in a bid to align requirements with the ACNC, however it was put on hold after the federal government announced it would abolish the national charity regulator.
Womersley said the organisation was aware they were planning to reintroduce it but they had “no idea about timetable” and it is just “one of those things that got done”.
“It’s terrific,” he said.
“We’ve been working on it and advocating with the government to actually ensure that the amendment went through, for some time now… the state government had agreed to introduce the amendment some time ago, but when the future of the ACNC was thrown into doubt they backed away from proceeding with introducing the legislation.
“Given that the future of the ACNC was sort of determined to be much more likely in the last six months or so, we reinvigorated our advocacy with the government to get on and introduce the legislation, so in fact we might be one of the first jurisdictions to ensure that there isn’t the levels of duplication – or to remove the duplication – in reporting arrangements that would be required or are currently involved.”
Under the new law, SA charities can still be incorporated under the state Associations Act, but once registered with the ACNC the charities simply report to the Commonwealth.
Charities that previously required a fundraising licence will still be required to notify the SA minister if they intend to fundraise in SA, but they will not require a separate fundraising licence, nor all the application and reporting requirements associated with that.
According to SACOSS the removing of duplicate reporting requirements under the state Associations Act and the Commonwealth ACNC Act minimises the impact of ACNC regulation on the charity sector.
Moreover, the use of ACNC registration to remove the need for an SA fundraising licence is the “sort of red tape reduction the sector hoped for with the introduction of the ACNC”.
“It means that our member organisations, charities,won’t have to report twice and won’t have to line up to both jurisdictions,” Womersley said.
“A report lodged with the ACNC and fulfilling the ACNCs requirements will in effect be adequate, and considered a similar return, or an adequate return, for the purposes of the state government’s reporting arrangements, so it means rather than having to make multiple reports agencies will simply be able to report through the ACNC.
“We hope that this will provide leadership to all the other jurisdictions around Australia to get on and introduce similar legislation so as the sector right across Australia doesn’t continue to have these multiple reporting arrangements and obligations.”
A spokesperson from the SA premier’s office said the new legislation would give charities more time to focus on their purpose.
“The new legislation will reduce red tape upon charities by reducing duplicate reporting requirements,” the spokesperson said.
“If a charity is reporting under the Commonwealth scheme, they will no longer have to report to Consumer and Business Services.
“This will remove an onerous administrative burden upon charities, freeing up time and resources to focus on their key charitable purpose.”
An ACNC spokesperson said they welcomed the news.
“The ACNC is committed to the objective of reducing red tape and harmonising reporting requirements for registered charities” a spokesperson said.
“We note that there is also legislation before the Tasmanian Parliament that would similarly reduce duplicative reporting requirements for incorporated associations that are registered charities in that state.
“The ACNC is committed to streamlining and simplifying the regulatory framework for all registered charities.”
It is anticipated that the SA legislation will commence 1 January 2017.