Indigenous Cultural Centre Stripped of Charity Status
Monday, 8th May 2017 at 2:57 pm
An Indigenous cultural centre has lost its charity status following an investigation by the national charity regulator.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) revoked the charity status of the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre Cooperative Society Limited on April 21 following an investigation into the organisation’s operations and activities.
The organisation, which offered a historic museum, educational workshops, events and functions, a retail store and fine arts gallery, was established in January 2005 to support Indigenous enterprise development.
According to local media reports the cultural centre has been closed for about 18 months with community members, including elders, holding protests accusing those in charge of the centre of nepotism.
The ACNC said it was prevented from disclosing further details due to secrecy provisions in the ACNC Act.
ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe AM said the revocation of charity status was reserved for the “most serious of cases”.
“Our compliance activity starts with education and guidance,” Pascoe said.
“The ACNC has a range of regulatory powers at its disposal, including guidance and support, warnings, directions and enforceable undertakings.
“However, when we find serious circumstances of mismanagement, or deliberate breaches of the ACNC Act or Governance Standards, we will revoke charity status.”
Pascoe said she encouraged members of the public to raise concerns about charities with the ACNC.
“Our recently published Charity Compliance 2015 and 2016 Report found that, on average, we receive 74 concerns each month,” Pascoe said.
“The majority of these concerns are raised by members of the public and provide the ACNC with vital information to help us with our enquires.
“I encourage members of the public to raise any concerns with the ACNC by calling 13 ACNC or by visiting acnc.gov.au/raiseaconcern.”
Following the revocation of its charity status, the the Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre Cooperative Society Limited will lose access to Commonwealth charity tax concessions.
The revocation was backdated to September 15, 2015 and the organisation has 60 days to object to the ACNC’s decisions.
Calls by Pro Bono News to the cultural centre were not answered.