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Dear Commissioner: ASRC


26 July 2022 at 5:30 am
Kon Karapanagiotidis
In part two of our Dear Commissioner series, the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) Kon Karapanagiotidis encourages whoever is appointed commissioner of the ACNC to reduce red tape and duplicate reporting requirements and allow charities to advocate on the issues they know best. 


Kon Karapanagiotidis | 26 July 2022 at 5:30 am


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Dear Commissioner: ASRC
26 July 2022 at 5:30 am

In part two of our Dear Commissioner series, the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) Kon Karapanagiotidis encourages whoever is appointed commissioner of the ACNC to reduce red tape and duplicate reporting requirements and allow charities to advocate on the issues they know best. 

Note from the editor: Dear Commissioner is a five-part series we will be running each day this week. We invited five sector leaders to write a letter to the future Commissioner of Australian Charities and Not for Profits Commission (ACNC), welcoming them to the role and explaining what they think the priorities should be for the organisation going forward.

 

Dear Commissioner,

Congratulations on your appointment as Commissioner of Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC).

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) is thrilled with the changing of the leadership and management of the ACNC. Australia needs a Commissioner who respects the crucial advocacy that charities do on behalf of the communities they serve.

We have been restricted over the past years by an ACNC that does not support charities and views advocacy with hostility and suspicion. We look forward to a new era for the ACNC where charities are engaged, respected, valued and supported to get on with what we do best – serving our community and creating a more equal, equitable and fair society for us all.

As a charity that exists solely to fill the gaps and provide services to people seeking asylum and refugees, the ASRC recognises the importance of advocacy in ensuring people are treated equally, fairly and with dignity. Being on the ground, charities are best placed to advocate for change as our advocacy is directly informed by and with people with lived expertise, whether it’s lived expertise of seeking asylum, poverty, homelessness, inequality or unfairness.

In recent years, charities speaking out have been under a spotlight and under attack. This has weakened the advocacy movement and people have suffered. We have seen this firsthand at the ASRC where many charities in our sector have been hesitant when faced with the need to speak out, fearful of an investigation or possible loss of charitable status if they do.

We have all spent hours, days and weeks engaging lawyers, attending roundtables and information sessions to ensure we were adhering to increasingly stringent restrictions on charities. It has taken precious staff and volunteer time to navigate what charities can and can’t do. Rather than regulate and support us, we have been silenced and constricted. We have had to spend time defending the rights and roles of charities, rather than working with the ACNC to strengthen and support the charity sector.

The recent federal election should have been an opportunity for charities to inform civil society and put a spotlight on the issues they are witnessing every day. But many charities were too scared to engage in conversations and awareness raising campaigns. The ASRC was fortunate enough to receive excellent legal advice and launch an election campaign, aimed at influencing the debate on refugee policy and providing an opportunity for people with lived expertise to have a voice. The same opportunity was not available to many charities who felt they were unable to speak out.

The ACNC provides such an important role in, not only the regulation of charities, but also to support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector. This support must include listening to and working with charities to create an environment that enables charities to do what they do best. As part of this, a viewpoint should be given as to how best to support charities to maintain their sustainability, reduce silos and competition but instead increase collaboration and productivity,  operate effectively with impact and build trust with the community of which we rely on to generously support our work and reduce red tape and duplication of reporting and regulatory requirements.

We look forward to actively working with you to strengthen civil society and bring the ACNC’s objects to life. The future is bright with an ACNC that engages with charities and uses our collective insights, expertise and strengths to further strengthen the sector, our community and country.

Yours faithfully

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM
CEO and founder
Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

 

You can read all the letters in our series by clicking here


Kon Karapanagiotidis  |  @ProBonoNews

Kon Karapanagiotidis OAM is the CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre.

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