Recommendations of the 2008 inquiry into disclosure regimes for charities
and not-for-profit organisations
Summary of Recommendations
The committee recommends that all Australian Governments
agree on common terminology for referring to organisations within the Sector.
Governments should also develop a common meaning for terms referring to the
size of these organisations, including 'micro', 'small', 'medium' and 'large'.
This standard terminology should be adopted by all government departments.
The committee recommends that the Government establish a
unit within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet specifically to manage
issues arising for Not-For-Profit Organisations. The unit should report to a
Minister for the Third Sector.
The committee recommends that there be a single independent
national regulator for Not-For-Profit Organisations.
The committee recommends that the Australian National
Regulator for Not-For-Profit Organisations should have similar functions to
regulators overseas, and particularly in the UK, including a Register for
Not-For-Profit Organisations with a compulsory sign-up requirement. The
committee recommends consultation with the Sector to formulate the duties of
the National Regulator.
As a minimum, the Regulator should:
and maintain a Register of all Not-For-Profit Organisations in Australia. Once
registered, the Commission should issue each organisation with a unique
identifying number or allow organisations with an ABN to use that number as
their Not-For-Profit identifier. This could be enabled using existing ASIC
and maintain an accessible, searchable public interface.
either an annual descriptive analysis of the organisations that it regulates or
provide the required information annually to the ABS for collation and
compliance with the relevant legislation.
best practice standards for the operation of Not-For-Profit Organisations.
/ Advise Not-For-Profit Organisations on best practice standards.
complaints relating to the operations of the organisations.
the public about the role of Not-For-Profit Organisations.
The voluntary codes of conduct developed by ACFID and FIA
respectively should be considered by the Regulator when implementing its own
code of conduct.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government
develop the legislation that will be required in order to establish a national
regulator for Australia.
The committee recommends that, once a Register is
established and populated, this information should be provided to the ABS, who
should prepare and publish a comprehensive study to provide government
with a clearer picture of the size and composition of the Third Sector.
The committee recommends that a single, mandatory,
specialist legal structure be adopted for Not-For-Profit Organisations through
a referral of state and territory powers. Given the degree of change such a
legal structure would mean for some not-for-profit organisations, the legal
structure must be developed in full consultation with these organisations.
The committee recommends that the Henry Review include an
examination of taxation measures affecting Not-For-Profit Organisations with a
view to simplifying these arrangements and reducing confusion and cost of
compliance for these organisations.
The committee recommends that a National Fundraising Act be
developed following a referral of powers from states and territories to the
This Act should include the following minimum features:
- It should apply nationally.
- It should apply to all organisations.
- It should require accounts or records to be submitted
following the fundraising period with the level of reporting commensurate with
the size of the organisation or amount raised.
- It should include a provision for the granting of a license.
- It should clearly regulate contemporary fundraising activities
such as internet fundraising.
The committee recommends that a tiered reporting system be
established under the legislation for a specialist legal structure.
The committee recommends that the tiers be assigned to
organisations based on total annual revenue.
The committee recommends that the Commonwealth Government
work with the Sector to implement a standard chart of accounts for use by all
departments and Not-For-Profit Organisations as a priority.
The committee recommends that a new disclosure regime
contain elements of narrative and numeric reporting as well as financial, in
acknowledgement that the stakeholders of the Sector want different information
to that of shareholders in the Business Sector. The financial reporting should
be transparent and facilitate comparison across charities.
The committee recommends that the national regulator
investigate the cost vs benefit of a GuideStar-type system (a website portal
that publishes information on the aims and activities of Not-For-Profit
Organisations) in Australia to encompass all Not-For-Profit Organisations.
The committee recommends that a Taskforce be established for
the purposes of implementing the recommendations of this report. The Taskforce
should report to COAG. Its membership should include:
a government representative from the Commonwealth;
- a COAG-elected representative to speak for states and
- one or more qualified legal experts with expertise with the major
pieces of legislation affecting Not-For-Profit organisations;
- a representative from an organisation which manages private
- an accountant with not-for-profit expertise; and
- a number of representatives from the peak bodies of
Not-For-Profit Organisations, including a representative from a peak body for
The Taskforce should actively seek to ensure that the
measures of reform that it implements do not impose an unreasonable reporting
burden on small and micro Not-For-Profit Organisations.
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