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Be clear about your Voice advocacy, ACNC says

8 March 2023 at 2:09 pm
Danielle Kutchel
Charities can advocate for or against the Voice to Parliament provided they stay within the ACNC’s rules.

Danielle Kutchel | 8 March 2023 at 2:09 pm


Be clear about your Voice advocacy, ACNC says
8 March 2023 at 2:09 pm

Charities can advocate for or against the Voice to Parliament provided they stay within the ACNC’s rules.

The charity regulator has released guidance for charities planning to advocate in the Voice to Parliament debate.

Charities, Advocacy and the Planned Referendum on An Indigenous Voice to Parliament is now available on the ACNC website, and explains that those responsible for running a charity, including directors, CEOs and senior workers whether paid or volunteer, should be clear about how their charity will advocate.

The resources also advise leaders to be clear about what they can say and do in the name of their charity.

According to the ACNC, “it is important that advocacy is lawful, respectful and fair as this helps ensure the charity and its leaders meet their obligations under the ACNC’s Governance Standards”.

See more: Philanthropy backs Voice

Commissioner Sue Woodward said the sector can make a valuable contribution to the Voice debate.

“Charities can engage in advocacy activities and they often do. This year, some charities might want to advocate for a particular outcome on the referendum,” she said.

“If a charity plans to undertake advocacy activities, it must be able to demonstrate how it believes its advocacy furthers its charitable purpose – the purpose set out in its constitution.

“In the case of the planned referendum, some charities may just want to make a statement of support for the ‘yes’ or ‘no’ case. An example would be a message in the charity’s email signature block. This would not jeopardise their registration with the ACNC.”

The ACNC also has more detailed information on advocacy by registered charities and charities, campaigning and advocacy which can help charities make decisions about their contributions to the conversation on the referendum.

Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh told Pro Bono News he had every confidence in how charities would act during the Voice discussion.

“I’m very confident that the charity sector will engage constructively, positively and work within the limits of the guidance that’s been provided by the ACNC,” he said.

“Many, many charities are passionate about the Voice referendum. Many believe that this is going to be an important moment for Australia. It’s going to dominate the public debate this year. And the good news for charities is they have clear advice from the Australian Charities and not for Profits Commission about how to involve themselves in this public debate this year.”

He reminded charities that the federal government welcomes charitable advocacy.

“We are strongly committed to the notion that charities have an important part to play in public debate,” Leigh said.

Tax deductible dilemma

This week, No campaigner Warren Mundine revealed the No campaign does not yet have deductible gift recipient (DGR) status.

The status was granted to Australians for Indigenous Constitutional Recognition (AICR), the fundraising body behind the Yes campaign, last year according to The Guardian.

According to the report, the No campaign has not yet submitted an application for DGR status.

The Guardian quotes a letter written by Mundine to Treasurer Jim Chalmers that says: “We believe that it is discriminatory to list a pro-voice body but not one which opposes the changes being put at the upcoming referendum and as such request your serious consideration of this request”.

Recognise a Better Way is not listed on the charities register.

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting. Reach her on or on Twitter @D_Kutchel.

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