Current legislative and regulatory frameworks governing charitable
This chapter describes the current legislative and regulatory frameworks
governing charity fundraising at the Commonwealth, state and territory levels.
The chapter also outlines the definition of a 'charity' in the Commonwealth Charities
Act 2013, and briefly discusses industry self-regulatory codes.
Fundraising activities for charities are primarily subject to state and
territory government regulation, although Commonwealth and local government
regulations are also relevant.
Fundraising regulation, at both the Commonwealth and state and territory
levels, is concerned with accountability, governance and transparency, and
includes requirements for registration and reporting.
As outlined by the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit
Studies (ACPNS, QUT), a charity's purpose must align with the law on charities:
Charities are already required by the common law to pursue activities
only in pursuit of their purposes. Those purposes must be consistent with
Australian charity law. Their purposes must also be for the public benefit and
not against public policy, as judged in the Australian environment.
At the Commonwealth level, there are two key pieces of legislation that
govern charitable fundraising: the Charities Act 2013 (Charities Act)
and the Australian Consumer Law.
The Charities Act
The Charities Act aims to 'provide clarity and certainty as to the
meaning' of 'charity' and 'charitable purpose'.
At present, its definitions only apply to where the terms 'charity' and
'charitable' are used in federal legislation, although there was some hope that
the definitions it outlined could be used uniformly across Australia.
The Charities Act defines a charity as follows:
'Charity' means an entity:
- that is a not-for-profit entity;
all of the purposes of which are:
charitable purposes that are for
the public benefit; or
purposes that are incidental or
ancillary to, and in furtherance or in aid of, purposes of the entity covered
by subparagraph (i); and...
that is not an individual, a
political party or a government entity.
'Charitable purposes' as outlined in paragraph (b)(i) means any of the
- the purpose of advancing health
- the purpose of advancing education;
- the purpose of advancing social or public welfare;
- the purpose of advancing religion;
- the purpose of advancing culture;
- the purpose of promoting reconciliation, mutual respect
and tolerance between groups of individuals that are in Australia;
- the purpose of promoting or protecting human rights;
- the purpose of advancing the security or safety of
Australia or the Australian public;
- the purpose of preventing or relieving the suffering of
- the purpose of advancing the natural environment;
- any other purpose beneficial to the general public that
may reasonably be regarded as analogous to, or within the spirit of, any of the
purposes mentioned in paragraphs (a) to (j);
- the purpose of promoting or opposing a change to any
matter established by law, policy or practice in the Commonwealth, a State, a
Territory or another country, if:
- in the case of promoting a
change—the change is
in furtherance or in aid of one or more of the purposes mentioned in paragraphs
(a) to (k); or
- in the case of opposing a
change—the change is
in opposition to, or in hindrance of, one or more of the purposes mentioned in
The Commissioner of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits
Commission (ACNC), Dr Gary Johns, emphasised that despite the definition
outlined in the Charities Act, there is no 'single definition' of what a
charity is across the various jurisdictions in Australia 'and we'll be a long
time waiting for that, I suspect'.
This was echoed by Mr Alex Milner from the Law Institute of Victoria, who noted
that the states and territories are not bound to the definition of a charity
contained in the Charities Act.
Australian Consumer Law (ACL)
The Australian Consumer Law (ACL) is the national law for fair trading
and consumer protection.
Its provisions prohibit misleading conduct, false representation and
unconscionable conduct. Enforcement responsibilities for the ACL are shared
between the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and state and
territory fair trading agencies.
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association explained that the 'ACL
effectively creates a macro-structure for the regulation of fundraising, whilst
not removing ultimate state control over how the ACL is enforced in their
Mr Scott Gregson from the ACCC described the functions of the ACL:
The consumer law contains general provisions prohibiting
misleading conduct, false representations and unconscionable conduct. It also
contains more specific prohibitions, such as those dealing with debt
collection, unsolicited consumer agreements and unfair contract terms.
Dr Lisa O'Brien from The Smith Family explained that the ACL's
provisions apply 'to certain activities of charities, notably, fundraising in
specific circumstances'. She also noted that the ACL is 'a regulatory framework
enforced jointly by all Australian governments', and therefore applicable
Responsibility for administering the details beneath the framework outlined in
the ACL rests with state and territory governments.
In December 2017, the ACCC published The guide to the Australian Consumer
Law for fundraising and other activities of charities, not-for-profits and
fundraisers (the Guide), which was developed with the state and territory
offices of fair trading and consumer protection and the Australian Securities
and Investments Commission.
The Guide is intended to help the charities, not-for-profit and fundraising
sectors to 'better understand their obligations under the ACL, particularly in
relation to fundraising'.
The Guide specified the circumstances in which fundraising is subject to
the provisions of the ACL:
Whether the ACL applies to a particular fundraising activity
generally depends on whether that activity occurs in 'trade or commerce'. If it
does, then you should expect the ACL to apply to that activity...
[F]undraising activities are also likely to be captured by
other State, Territory and Commonwealth laws that govern charities,
not-for-profit entities and fundraisers, including laws tailored to those
The Guide explained that in general, fundraising activities are classed
as being in trade or commerce, and therefore are required to meet certain
obligations under the ACL, if they:
involve the supply of goods or services;
involve fundraising in an organised, continuous and repetitive
if the body for which the activities are carried out is a
for-profit professional fundraiser.
Ms Kate Lynch from the Department of the Treasury outlined what this
means for charitable fundraising activities that are classed as being in trade
This means that you cannot mislead, deceive or engage in
unconscionable conduct, whether it's in relation to a pure donation of money or
in selling a good where the purchase provides funds for the charity to use.
Ms Lynch stated that the ACL does not 'provide for sector-specific
regulation, such as requiring a person to be licensed before they can conduct
fundraising activities ...'
Fundraising licensing requirements and specific conduct obligations are covered
in the laws of the states and Australian Capital Territory, with the Northern
Territory having no laws specifically regulating the charitable sector (see
Mr Gregson from the ACCC explained some of the limitations of the ACL in
relation to the regulation of charities. For example, because of the ACL's focus
on trade and commerce, its application may not cover certain aspects of
charitable activities and fundraising that do not occur in these areas.
Further, the ACL's penalty provisions do not apply to many situations that do
not involve the supply of a good or service, including, potentially, some
While the ACL is a single law, it has multiple regulators, including the
ACCC and state and territory fair-trading organisations.
These are discussed below.
Commonwealth regulatory bodies
The three major Commonwealth bodies responsible for regulating
charitable fundraising are the ACNC, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and
the ACCC. The ATO administers the main tax benefit for charitable donations,
Deductible Gift Recipients status, while the ACCC administers the Australian
Consumer Law, and the ACNC is responsible for administering charity
registration, including the requirement that registered charities submit
audited accounts and annual reports to the ACNC and adhere to a set of principles
on good governance.
Australian Charities and Not-for-profits
The ACNC was established in December 2012 by the Australian Charities
and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth). The ACNC:
registers organisations as charities;
helps charities understand and meet their obligations through
information, guidance, advice and other support;
helps the public understand the work of the not-for profit sector
through information, guidance, advice and other support;
maintains a free and searchable public register so that anyone
can look up information about registered charities;
maintains the Charity Passport online system (which charities can
update through the Charity Portal) that government agencies can use to access information
works with state and territory governments (as well as federal,
state and territory government agencies) to develop a 'report-once, use-often'
reporting framework for charities.
The ACNC only regulates charities that have chosen to register with it–around 56 190 registered
charities as at 3 July 2018.
It noted in its submission that 'many organisations undertaking fundraising in
the community are not registered charities'.
While it is able to revoke a charity's registration, an action which, the ACNC
Commissioner noted, is very rare, the ACNC is unable to retrieve money that the
charity raised 'because that's a matter for state attorneys-general'.
Mr Nicholas Berger-Thomson from the Department of the Treasury explained
the regulatory functions of the ACNC in more detail:
At the Commonwealth level, the ACNC does not regulate the
fundraising activities of charities; rather, registered charities have
reporting obligations to the ACNC and must comply with a set of
principles-based governance standards. There may be cases where a charity's
fundraising practices raise questions about the adequacy of its broader
governance arrangements, in which case the ACNC may decide to commence a
compliance investigation. It's important to note that the ACNC has no
jurisdiction to investigate or take action against not-for-profits that are not
registered charities, and many organisations undertaking fundraising in the
community are not registered charities.
The ACNC also stated that it 'does not have a general jurisdiction to
investigate concerns about fundraising activities and practices', and would
usually refer concerns about fundraising practices to state and territory
consumer affairs agencies.
...there may be cases where a charity's fundraising practices
raises questions about the adequacy of its broader governance arrangements, in
which case the ACNC may decide to commence a compliance investigation.
The ACNC described other areas raised with the ACNC that are usually
outside of its jurisdiction, including:
concerns about aggressive fundraising;
improper sharing of donor details;
perceptions that charity fundraising practices are taking
advantage of vulnerable donors;
charities using false advertising; and
complaints that charities are wasting money or using donated
Witnesses expressed broad support for the ACNC. For example, Dr Lisa O'Brien,
the Chief Executive Officer of The Smith Family, argued that the 'ACNC has been
an effective regulator since its establishment'.
Ms Tania Burstin from mycause stated that:
Having the ACNC has really helped us a lot. Having a single
source of truth, a single place to refer and a single point of trust has been
really good for us.
This sentiment was echoed by Ms Lavanya Kala from Volunteering
Australia, who stated:
The establishment of the ACNC, and the ACNC legislation, has
been fantastic. It has been a really useful body as a charity regulator. In
terms of reporting, it has been really great as well because you can access the
ACNC website and all your information is there—all the reporting is in one
However, Ms Vera Visevic, a Partner at Mills Oakley, noted the
limitations of the ACNC's regulatory role, as the ACNC only regulates around 56
000 charities while there are about 600 000 not-for-profits in Australia.
Dr Gary Johns, the Commissioner of the ACNC, explained to the committee
that registering charities with the ACNC is not compulsory:
It's voluntary to register as a charity in Australia, but
it's the only way you can get to the tax office. So it's a nice incentive
there. We know we are the key people here. People register with us. It's a very
powerful standing you have as a registered charity, but really it's to get the
tax benefits. If a charity wants to stand outside the system then it can.
Mr David Crosby, the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Council
for Australia, explained that the organisation no longer accepted members that
were not registered with the ACNC:
We've reached the position within our organisation where if
you're not registered with the ACNC you cannot be a member of our organisation.
Unless you are a registered charity with the Australian Charities and
Not-for-profits Commission, you cannot be a member of the Community Council for
Australia. Increasingly, I think that is the standard that some philanthropic
funders and others are adopting.
Mr Crosby outlined the differences in the regulatory functions of the
ACNC and the ACCC, which is the main regulator for the ACL (see below), suggesting
that if people had concerns about who was on the board of a charity or where
the money was going, they should complain to the ACNC because these are
Australian Taxation Office (ATO)
Charitable giving in Australia, according to the Fundraising Institute of
Australia (FIA), 'is underpinned by tax deductibility'.
To this extent, the ATO is involved in a regulatory role in managing the tax
deductibility status of charities. Mr Michael Hardy, the Assistant Commissioner
of Aggressive Tax Planning from the ATO, explained that:
...the Australian Taxation Office has no particular role in
regulating fundraising for charities. We do have a role, of course, in the tax
administration interface of charities with the tax system.
Most not-for-profits with deductible gift recipient (DGR) status must be
registered with the ACNC. However, Mr Hardy noted that not all charities have
gift deductible status:
One of the things that we observe with the public generally,
and which perhaps is good to have on the record for the committee, is that many
people conflate things—they assume that all charities are deductible gift
recipients. Or, conversely, they assume that all deductible gift recipients are
charities. Neither is true!
Mr Nicholas Berger-Thomson from the Department of the Treasury stated
that government reforms announced in December 2017 require non-government DGRs:
...to be registered as charities with the ACNC, which will mean
that, in effect, you will need to be a registered charity with the ACNC to be
eligible for DGR status...
However, Mr Hardy outlined that some categories of DGR do not require an
entity listed as a DGR to be a charity, which are:
...typically public funds for particular good purposes—for
funding of hospitals or other such things. In that situation you could have an
organisation that is not a charity endorsed by the ACNC but does have DGR
status... But for those types of organisations that have DGR status because of,
I guess, a precursor obligation to be a charity, if they were to lose charity
status it would be unlikely they could retain DGR status.
Australian Competition and Consumer
The ACCC is responsible for enforcing the ACL at a federal level, while state
and territory fair trading agencies are responsible for enforcing the ACL in
their own jurisdictions (see below).
A list of state and territory fair trading agencies is outlined in Table 3.1.
Mr Scott Gregson from the ACCC outlined the differences between the ACCC
and state and territory fair trading agencies:
The ACCC is more likely to pursue matters that are national,
involving large companies, a greater number of consumers, interstate trade et
cetera. We rarely get involved in resolving individual disputes but, rather,
have a different enforcement model. States and territories obviously are more
likely to pursue matters within their own states or territories and get
involved in dispute resolution.
Charities do not operate in the same way that other industries involved
in selling goods or services do, which then impacts the role that the ACCC can
play in regulating activities under the ACL. However, Mr Gregson stated that
many charities 'have developed sophisticated, organised and repetitive
fundraising activity that we consider will often place their conduct within
trade or commerce and therefore within reach of the Australian Consumer Law'.
Mr Gregson told the committee that the ACCC does not 'receive a large
number of contacts in relation to charities', though it is unclear whether this
is because of a small number of issues raised, or because consumers report
issues with charitable fundraising to other agencies.
States and territories
Each state and territory has its own agency that performs similar
functions to the ACCC at the state or territory level. All jurisdictions except
the Northern Territory have laws regulating charitable fundraising. This
section outlines some of the key features of the regulatory frameworks governing
charitable fundraising in the states and territories.
State and territory consumer
Each state and territory has its own consumer protection agency that is
responsible for enforcing the ACL, in instances where a matter does not fall
within the remit of the ACCC because it concerns the individual state or
territory. These agencies are listed in Table 3.1.
Table 3.1: List of state and
territory consumer protection agencies
|Australian Capital Territory
|New South Wales
|NSW Fair Trading
|NT Consumer Affairs
|Office of Fair Trading Queensland
|SA Office of Consumer and Business Services
|Tasmanian Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading
|Consumer Affairs Victoria
|WA Consumer Protection
State and territory legislation
The states and the Australian Capital Territory have their own laws
regulating charitable fundraising activities, while the Northern Territory
currently has no legislation on charities. Table 3.2 outlines some of the key
pieces of legislation in each jurisdiction.
Table 3.2: State and
territory legislation regulating charitable fundraising
|Australian Capital Territory
|Charitable Collections Act 2003
|New South Wales
|Charitable Fundraising Act 1991
|Collections Act 1966
|Collections for Charitable Purposes Act 1939
|Collections for Charities Act 2001
|Fundraising Act 1998
|Charitable Collections Act 1946
Mr David Thomas, a member of Chartered Accountants Australia and New
Zealand, explained that licensing arrangements are 'not consistent from state
to state. New South Wales will have different requirements to Queensland or
Western Australia, and so on'.
Further, terminology and definitions used in state and territory
Some legislation addresses particular types of fundraising activities not
addressed in the legislation of other states; exemptions for particular types
of charitable organisations that apply in one jurisdiction do not necessarily
apply in another; and there is inconsistency in requirements for audits and
reports, and how fundraising appeals must be conducted.
Only South Australia and Tasmania specifically refer to the internet in
legislation as a possible mode of appeal for support.
The different regulatory frameworks mean that charities receiving
donations or fundraising across state and territory borders may have to submit
different applications for licenses and meet different requirements. The time
periods for registration of fundraising activity range from 28 days to 60 days
to no specified time frame.
Some of these varying requirements are outlined in Table 3.3, as provided by
the Community Council for Australia, which described 'what one charity had to
do to comply with Australian fundraising regulations for a largely web based
As outlined below, the New South Wales Parliament has recently passed
changes to its regulatory regime for its licensing requirements, while South
Australia and the Australian Capital Territory now no longer require a charity
to obtain a licence if it is already registered with the ACNC.
Table 3.3: Varying
registration requirements of charities by state and territory
|Advertising requirements for a public notice
|Amount intended to raise in the jurisdiction
|Appeal manager details
|ACT, NSW, SA, Qld, WA
|Bank account details
|NSW, VIC, Qld, WA
|All directors' details (name, position, address)
|SA, VIC, Qld
|All directors' signatures
|Certified copies of supporting documents
|Copies of supporting documents (not certified)
|ACT, NSW, VIC
|Dates required for the licence
|Fundraising activities to be undertaken
|ACT, SA, WA
|Third party fundraising provider details
|State address if intending to fundraise in that state
|Statement of purpose
|SA, TAS, VIC, Qld, WA
Further, reporting requirements once an entity has obtained a licence also
vary considerably between jurisdictions, in terms of both to whom organisations
are required to report and what material should be provided in those reports.
However, recent reforms have moved towards harmonising the various
regulatory differences across the jurisdictions. As noted above, South
Australia and the Australian Capital Territory no longer require organisations
registered as charities with the ACNC to obtain a licence or permission to
New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia have recently initiated reforms
that will, according to the FIA, 'substantially reduce red tape for fundraising
[and]... resolve the lion's share of issues relating to misalignment of
fundraising licensing and application processes...'
The ACNC explained that it has streamlined reporting arrangements with incorporated
associations in Tasmania, South Australia, the ACT and Victoria, and with
charitable fundraisers in South Australia and the ACT. This means it shares
information with other government agencies, enabling registered charities to be
exempt from usual reporting obligations to those agencies.
Mr Scott McClellan, the Executive Manager of Code and Regulatory Affairs
at the FIA, noted that recent reforms at the state level were encouraging:
We're actually very encouraged with the momentum that seems
to be occurring at the state level to achieve regulatory reform and red tape
reduction... In many cases, the red tape has arisen not because of any
bureaucratic failings of governments at either the state or the Commonwealth
level but because of changes in technology that have made it possible for
fundraisers to operate across state borders.
The following section outlines some of the specific features of each
jurisdiction, including recent changes to regulatory requirements. The
committee only received evidence directly from the governments of the
Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales.
Australian Capital Territory
The Chief Executive Officer of the FIA described the ACT as a
'pacesetter' because of its recent reforms to the regulatory requirements for
The FIA submitted that the ACT's 'reforms of last year reduced both
fundraising-specific red tape and financial reporting requirements for ACNC
The Australian Capital Territory requires collectors to wear identifying
tags while soliciting or receiving money or benefits.
The ACT does not require organisations that are ACNC registered
charities to maintain a licence or meet annual return and accounting
requirements from the ACT regulatory authorities.
The ACT is one of only two jurisdictions that expressly mentions online
fundraising in its legislation.
New South Wales
Mr Alex Milner, a member of the Not for Profit and Charities Law
Committee of the Law Institute of Victoria, told the committee that New South
Wales has 'one of the most detailed fundraising regimes' in Australia. He
described the regime as being quite 'particular', involving legislation and
Mr Milner outlined how the New South Wales legislation deals with the definition
of a fundraising appeal:
It applies to any receipt of moneys for any activity or
purpose which includes a charitable purpose. So, when you flow that through, it
doesn't just apply to donations—in fact the legislation is specific that it
doesn't just apply to donations—it also applies to fee-for-service arrangements
where the charity is raising money, maybe through an op shop or some other
activity, to generate revenue.
In October 2018, the New South Wales Parliament passed a bill to make
changes to the state's charitable fundraising regime. The bill was introduced
in order to implement recommendations arising from a public inquiry into the
conduct of the Returned and Services League (RSL) NSW Branch and related
This legislation includes measures seeking to:
streamline the registration process for charities in NSW by
allowing them to use proof of registration with the ACNC to apply for a fundraising
authority in NSW; and
increase the compliance and enforcement powers of the NSW
regulator to conduct random inspections of charities and investigate possible
breaches of the Act.
In the second reading debates on the bill, concerns were raised by some
about the regulation of online donations, and harmonisation efforts in relation
to reporting and administration requirements across the states and territories.
Ms Rose Webb, the New South Wales Fair Trading Commissioner and the
Deputy Secretary of the Better Regulation Division in the New South Wales
Department of Finance, Services and Innovation, told the committee that the
are an important step in harmonising regulatory requirements with
Commonwealth requirements, especially regarding registration and reporting;
provide that proof of current registration with the ACNC can be
used to apply for a fundraising authority in New South Wales; and
align financial reporting and self-disclosure reporting
requirements with the ACNC requirements.
In September 2018, the ACNC entered into a new agreement with NSW Fair
Trading to reduce the administrative burden on registered charities. NSW
incorporated associations will now only be required to submit their annual
financial reports to the ACNC. The ACNC will then share the data with NSW Fair
The FIA stated its support for the reforms:
The NSW Charitable Fundraising reforms represent the most
important red tape reduction program to date, from FIA's perspective, because
they are actually being implemented. They will result in major reductions in
terms of both costs and administration and could act as a template and a
catalyst for other jurisdictions, thus creating momentum for harmonisation.
Some aspects of New South Wales charitable fundraising legislation, Ms
Webb noted, are similar to the ACL, in terms of requiring people not to mislead
or deceive. She argued, however, that New South Wales legislation covers other,
more specific areas, such as prudential regulation – or where funds must be
kept and how they must be stored and accounted for – as well as how charities
should conduct themselves.
New South Wales does not require registration for fundraising for
The committee heard that the Queensland legislative requirements are
'cumbersome and expensive' and 'the most stringent... of all the states'.
Mr Alex Milner from the Law Institute of Victoria stated that the Queensland
Office of Fair Trading must approve any public materials distributed as part of
a campaign that involves a commercial fundraiser. As a result, Mr Milner said,
I've certainly been aware of situations where national
campaigns, which often have their own deadlines and pressures, will
specifically exclude Queensland from fundraising exactly for that reason: that
there is just no way of being compliant in the time available.
Examples of regulations outlined in evidence include, for example, the
requirement that an individual cannot carry out a fundraising appeal wearing a
mask and carrying a toy firearm.
Another regulation requires entities to provide collectors involved in
door-to-door fundraising or street collection to wear an identifying armlet or
Dr Ted Flack told the committee that in Queensland, 'if you want to set up your
own fund to send your granddaughter to China for a particular operation or
whatever it happens to be, you have to get a licence now', although he reported
that the legislation on this issue 'is not enforced properly'.
Professor Myles McGregor Lowndes from the Australian Centre for
Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at Queensland University of Technology
highlighted that, as in Western Australia, it was illegal in Queensland 'to
collect money on the end of a long pole outside the reach of the collector',
although this provision has been repealed. He stated that the provision
originated in a 1903 law in London 'to prevent collections from the tops of
stagecoaches as they passed London streets, slowing the traffic'.
Within seven days of filing an application to become a charity in
Queensland, an association must give notice of the application in a newspaper
published in Brisbane with state-wide circulation, and in another newspaper
published at least 5 days a week that circulates 'throughout the locality in
which the association's registered address is situated'. The notice must state
that a person may object to the registration.
Ms Tania Burstin from mycause stated that Queensland charities are
required to have approval for one-off charitable appeals, whether fundraising
for individuals or entities.
As in Victoria, Queensland's fundraising laws also regulate fundraising for
non-profit purposes that are not charitable at law, including appeals for
sports clubs and for individuals.
The FIA argued that instead of decreasing regulatory requirements for
fundraising in recent reforms, instead the Queensland system had 'ended up
increasing... fundraising red tape by tightening licensing requirements around
face to face donor appeals and requiring the sector to undertake new disclosure
and other transparency measures'.
Mr Peter-Hills Jones from the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association
was of the opinion that Queensland's regulatory requirements may mean 'that the
speed at which charities can respond to, say, flooding or bushfires in
Queensland is slower'. Due to the length of time needed to obtain a licence to
fundraise in Queensland, charities may fundraise in other states for
communities affected by disasters in Queensland.
Mr Paul Tavatgis from Whipbird Consulting noted the complexities of
Queensland's legislative requirements, and gave the following example:
...in Queensland, you may find that part of the regulation is
that it's possible for a charity to book out the entire state for a week or for
two weeks, and that may mean that you are no longer able to carry out your
fundraising in Queensland and you have to pack all your fundraisers off to
another jurisdiction or you've got to stand them down for a week. So it's
However, other evidence emphasised positive aspects of Queensland's
regulatory system. For example, Ms Tracy Adams from yourtown stated that 'We've
always vouched that Queensland has been quite progressive, particularly for us
in the context of charitable art unions and the like'.
The committee surmised that opinions on the positive or negative aspects
of Queensland regulation depend, in part, on the types of fundraising
activities undertaken by charities.
A number of submitters and witnesses described the South Australian
system as simple and streamlined.
For example, Ms Lavanya Kala from Volunteering Australia highlighted that the
South Australian model was 'pretty good' and 'pretty streamlined' compared to
The FIA argued that 'South Australia has led the way in terms of working with
the ACNC on a seamless reporting regime'.
South Australia does not require organisations that are ACNC registered
charities to obtain permission to fundraise from state regulatory authorities,
so long as they provide the state regulator with notice of their ACNC
registration and intention to fundraise.
Since December 2017, South Australia has no longer required charities already reporting
to the ACNC to also report to state regulatory authorities.
South Australia has a mandatory code of conduct for charities that
operates in effect as legislation.
This code requires charities to ensure that collectors participating in
unsolicited collections wear an identifying badge.
Mr Bruce Moore, General Counsel for the Australian Red Cross Society, argued
that the South Australian code is:
...an example of how a code can be written in relatively simple
terms which are easy for the fundraising entity to understand and apply as well
as those engaged by the fundraising entity to support it–third party
The inquiry received very little evidence outlining the regulatory
framework governing charity fundraising in Tasmania. However, that evidence
that did mention Tasmania highlighted that the state has made recent efforts to
align its regulatory requirements with the ACNC.
Tasmania is one of only two jurisdictions to expressly mention online
fundraising in its legislation.
The committee received little evidence outlining particular aspects of
the regulatory framework governing charitable fundraising in Victoria. However,
witnesses and submitters explained that Victoria only requires registration if
the fundraising is more than $10 000 and only volunteers are used to fundraise.
Commercial fundraisers must obtain their own fundraising licence, even if they
are operating under the authority of a licensed charity, unlike in other
Victorian fundraising laws also apply to non-charitable entities, such as not-for-profits
that are held to account by their members.
Submitters outlined that Victoria has recently taken steps to ensure
that charities only report to the ACNC.
The ACNC stated in its annual report for 2017–18 that from 1 July 2018,
'charities incorporated in Victoria... report to the ACNC... Charities taking
part in this arrangement will no longer need to report to Consumer Affairs
Victoria, or pay an annual fee'.
Consumer Affairs Victoria is currently in the process of consulting with
industry stakeholders on changes to its Fundraising Regulations 2009,
due to expire in June 2019. The regulations in their current form prescribe
requirements for fundraising appeals.
Ms Delaine Smith, the Chief Executive Officer of the Australasian
Leukemia and Lymphoma Group, stated that 'Western Australia actually has quite
a detailed process, far more detailed than any other state'.
Evidence highlighted a number of features of the fundraising regulatory regime
in Western Australia. For example, Western Australia requires an audit of all
income, no matter the amount.
Balance sheets and notes to accounts, income and expenditure statements and
independent auditor reports must be submitted six months after the end of the
Further, fundraising through street collections requires a separate licence,
and street collections in Perth must take place on a Friday unless otherwise
The committee heard that funds raised through an online organisation for
a charity not registered in Western Australia would not be transferred to the
charity until it was able to prove that it had a licence in Western Australia.
The Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at Queensland
University of Technology drew attention to the fact that the legislation
governing charitable fundraising in Western Australia, the Charitable
Collections Act 1946, refers to World War II as the 'present war'.
Local council requirements
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association submitted that there are
additional regulatory requirements for face-to-face fundraising at the level of
local government. Many local councils, they stated, require fundraisers to
obtain additional permissions to use public spaces for street fundraising and,
in some instances, for door-to-door fundraising, with up to 80 per cent of
local councils issuing permits for face-to-face fundraisers.
For example, Western Australia's street fundraising legislation only regulates
the Perth metropolitan area, with responsibility for preventing nuisance in
areas outside Perth resting with local authorities.
3.85 Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes from the Australian Centre for
Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at Queensland University of Technology
suggested that local authorities are best-placed to deal with issues like
Industry codes of practice
The committee heard that a number of organisations, such as the FIA, the
Public Fundraising Regulatory Association and the Australian Council for
International Development, have voluntary industry codes.
The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association noted that many charities 'choose
to submit to self-regulation... to demonstrate their commitment to best practice
and ethical fundraising'.
It argued that most investigative and enforcement 'work currently being
undertaken is by self-regulatory bodies...'
Mr Scott McClellan, the Executive Manager of Code and Regulatory Affairs
at the FIA, outlined the purpose of industry codes and how these differ from
Remember that these codes deal with ethical conduct that
should become almost second nature... Those codes play a very particular role.
They are about trying to raise the bar. Organisations, charities and suppliers
that have signed up to these industry bodies are interested in being part of a
fraternity that's trying to do the right thing, trying to lift standards.
Legislation, by contrast, is concerned with setting a minimum
bar below which you must not stray or you could find yourself in trouble with
the law. It's quite a different proposition. Very serious financial penalties
accrue to the breach, for example, of an ACCC-registered code under the ACL...
[T]hose mandated codes have been imposed on the sectors because there has been
evidence of systemic failure in those sectors.
Ms Kate Lynch from the Department of the Treasury noted that at present
the ACL does not include any codes regulating fundraising, but the inclusion of
such a code would 'obligate all jurisdictions, including the Northern
Territory, which currently doesn't regulate fundraising, to adopt the
She further clarified that no industry codes sit with the ACL; rather, industry
codes for specific sectors exist under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010,
which is concerned with industry and markets.
This chapter has outlined the major pieces of Commonwealth legislation,
the national bodies responsible for regulation of charitable fundraising,
differences between state and territory requirements, and industry codes of
practice. The following chapter examines in further detail issues raised in
evidence concerning current regulatory requirements.
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