Transparency + Trust = ACNC
6 June 2017 at 8:58 am
The recent move against the ACNC is cause for concern, writes Pro Bono Australia founder Karen Mahlab in her latest blog.
As many of you know, the Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission is the peak regulatory body for Australia’s social sector. When you give to a charity it has to be registered with the ACNC.
After 30 years and millions of pages of recommendations an Australian Commission was finally confirmed and given a budget and mandate to operate in 2012. A leadership team of committed and capable people have led the ACNC over the past five years and in that time they have dealt with “cleaning up” the sector, driving out unscrupulous charities, improving financial reporting and governance and, importantly, enabling a holistic understanding of how important this sector is to the underpinnings of community through the collection of never before seen data.
And yet… there are whispers that it will be unwound. A very new conservative minister – Assistant Minister Michael Sukkar, without meeting with the head of the ACNC Susan Pascoe AM, has determined not to renew her contract past September despite, by all measures, her having done a wonderful job. We have had no transparency about why this is or what it means for the ACNC overall. The ACNCs work has been consistently productive against a background of an ongoing push from sections of the conservative side of politics to scrap its existence. The latest developments are concerning. Transparency = Trust.
The not-for-profit sector employs more than a million people and accounts for a chunk of our GDP – 8.3 per cent to be exact. It’s important that it be regulated and transparent.
Whilst many sectors resist regulation, in 2014, when surveyed 82 per cent of the not-for-profit sector said that they wanted a regulator for itself. In clever ways the ACNC has made transparency possible without overburdening not for profits with red tape and, even pushed for a decrease in red tape nationally through streamlining antiquated state-based fundraising legislation.
At a time when general trust in our institutions is at all time low, the ACNC was set up to build trust in our community organisations through increasing transparency so that when we donate or give time, or get involved we can check that they are compliant.
Transparency = Trust. Please minister, don’t undo all our hard work.