CCA News - Winter 2017
There is a lot happening that cuts to the foundations and future of our sector..
Thank you to CCA members and many from across our sector and the philanthropic community that supported the Open Letter to the Prime Minister regarding the decision not to re-appoint ACNC Commissioner Susan Pascoe AM and the future of the ACNC. A fantastic response within a week of the decision saw our voice heard. The decision and appointment process have been put in the headlights and called to account. Assistant Minister, Michael Sukkar has given both public and private assurance that a transparent process will follow, and that Commissioner’s Pascoe’s expertise and experience will inform the upcoming five-year review of the ACNC. We welcome these positive comments, but remain concerned that the Assistant Minister found it unnecessary to meet with the ACNC as he approached his portfolio, and disregarded the positive support from both Treasury and the ACNC Advisory Board for the leadership and direction that has been established.
The Assistant Minister indicated that the ACNC will ‘enter its next phase’. The significance for the future of our sector cannot be understated. It’s worth remembering the legislated aims of the ACNC and why we fought hard for its establishment, retention and future: ‘public trust and confidence’, ‘supporting a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative sector’ and ‘reducing the regulatory burden’.
#fixfundraising discussion with Assistant Minister Sukkar on 9 June was positive. CCA joined Philanthropy Australia, Justice Connect, mycause, AICD, World Vision and Save the Children to again argue the case (background here). As a number of us at that meeting later tweeted, ‘he gets it’. We look forward to positive developments as the Government responds to the Review of Australian Consumer Law.
Two upcoming major CCA submissions: responding to the Treasury discussion paper on Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Reform Opportunities and the Productivity Commission’s Draft Report on Reforms to Human Services. Both due 14 July. These are big issues and important submissions. CCA will be working with our membership to respond.
Finally, thank you to members that attended our AGM at Parliament House on 24 May and joined the discussion with Andrew Leigh, Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-profits, Senator Louise Pratt and Senator Rachel Siewert. Recent events and insights from these discussions again highlighted the need for our work behind the scenes and more publicly if we want to influence the issues that affect our sector and the work we do for our communities.
As always, thanks to all that take an interest in the future of our sector.
CEO Community Council for Australia
CCA news, policy and advocacy
Open Letter to the Prime Minister re Commissioner Susan Pascoe AM and the future of the ACNC
The Open Letter with well over 100 signatories reflecting the breadth and diversity of the sector, and with strong support from the philanthropic community, was presented to Assistant Minister, Michael Sukkar on 9 June and hand-delivered as Parliament resumed to the offices of the Prime Minister, Treasurer, Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-profits and members of the cross-bench.
Coverage of the letter, the Assistant Minister’s assurances re a transparent process going forward and some of the politics was reported in Pro Bono News, the Australian, the Canberra Times and the Mandarin. The Shadow Minister for Charities and Not-for-profits responded with a media release.
CCA believes the Open Letter advocacy hit the mark. We will be maintaining a proactive interest in developments.
Treasury discussion paper: Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Reform Opportunities
Treasury’s discussion paper on Tax Deductible Gift Recipient Reform Opportunities is an important one that has been rumoured for some time. It builds on some recommendations from the inquiry into tax deductibility and environmental organisations.
CCA has long argued that the ACNC should play a more significant role in DGR, that the current DGR approval processes are a mess, and that all registered charities should be eligible for DGR.
The discussion paper also canvasses limitations on advocacy.
CCA will be preparing a strong submission in response to this discussion paper – we look forward to member input. We encourage all in the sector to take a very active role in reviewing not just how DGR is granted, but also the proposed new monitoring processes. Submissions are due 14 July.
Pro Bono News covered the release of the discussion paper, with commentary from David on behalf of CCA and from Sarah Davies, Philanthropy Australia: New Paper Details Potential Reforms to DGR Status.
Productivity Commission Draft Report: Reform to Human Services
The Productivity Commission has released its Draft Report: Inquiry into Introducing Competition and Informed User Choice into Human Services: Reform to Human Services. The report makes some significant recommendations across end-of-life care services; social housing; government-commissioned family and community services; services in remote Indigenous communities; public hospitals; and public dental services. It includes recommendations around: government contracting and commissioning; improving outcomes focus and measurement; better use, sharing and availability of data; and, supporting consumer choice.
CCA provided a submission to the Inquiry last year (here) and will be responding to the Draft Report.
Defending Democracy: Safeguarding Independent Community Voices
Progress 2017 devoted an entire session to the issue of defending democracy. CCA CEO, David Crosbie joined a panel and a conversation that talked about the many ways in which pressure has been exerted on charities not to publicly advocate for policies that would benefit their communities.
In the lead up to this event, a group of organisations lead by the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC) worked together to produce a report; Defending Democracy: Safeguarding Independent Community Voices. CCA, Pro Bono Australia, ACOSS, choice, Justice Connect, and the Reichstein Foundation are among the organisations that collaborated to prepare the report.
Professor Gillian Triggs, president of the Australian Human Rights Commission launched the report on the last day of Progress 2017.
Charities and not-for-profit organisations play a critical role in our democracy. The five main areas of concern addressed in the HRLC report include:
- preventing advocacy through restrictive funding agreements
- restricting or reducing the ability of charities to offer tax deductions to donors (DGR status)
- restricting funding of charities from outside of Australia (including from head offices based overseas)
- restricting NFP involvement in elections and campaigning
- cutting funding and limiting government engagement with peak bodies.
In October 2016, CCA launched the Australia We Want, First Report, benchmarking how Australia and each state and territory is performing against values and goals prioritised by leaders from across the charities sector. The report moves the debate on from economic rationalism to paint a picture of a compassionate, fair, inclusive, generous and innovative Australia.
The next step is to support tangible actions to make Australia a better place. The Australia We Want Solutions Forums are about finding solutions to significant social issues and place an emphasis on the positive values the charities and not-for-profit sector can deliver to Australian communities.
The first of our AusWeWant Solutions Forums will be held in Melbourne in August with the support of the Origin Foundation and PwC Australia. It will focus on Educational Attainment (a measure for the AusWeWant values of inclusive, equal opportunity, united and authentic, but also relevant across other areas).
The forum will bring together leaders and decision-makers in a solutions focused discussion that draws on the experience and learning of our sector. For more information, please contact Deborah Smith at email@example.com
Opinion and Insights
David Crosbie’s latest opinion pieces in Pro Bono Australia:
Divide and Conquer, 15 June
In the face of a targeted campaign to limit advocacy, the charities sector must not become divided.
Avoiding a Democratic Car Crash, 8 June
A reflection on a week that highlighted how important it is for us to be brave in our advocacy and stand up for democracy. In the spotlight was the gagging impact of the UK lobbying laws and the release at Progress 2017 of Defending Democracy: Safeguarding Independent Community Voices.
Advocacy, Politics and Mowing the Lawn, 25 May
Is advocacy by charities under threat? It is, but we do have very strong legal protections on the right to advocate. Here’s an explanation.
Is This a Fair Budget?, 10 May
A take on what the Federal Budget means for the charities and not-for-profit sector.
Twiggy Forrest donation: more philanthropy means more risk-taking – and that’s good, Krystian Seibert, The Conversation, 23 May
The Long Road to Charity Reform, Robert Fitzgerald AM talks to Pro Bono News, 1 June
Parliamentary Friends of Philanthropy established - a welcome non-partisan forum co-chaired by Labor MP Andrew Leigh and Liberal MP Lucy Wicks. The Parliamentary Friends Group will be launched at the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit, 11-12 September. On the agenda is promoting an understanding of the broader context within which government and philanthropy operate, showcasing effective collaboration, and the importance of funding advocacy and efforts to influence policy. CCA will be there. More details and registrations here.
Regulating Charities: The Inside Story – the most important book of our time reflecting on the aims and objectives of charity regulation across the world and the challenges of today.
Pro Bono News took a look at this ‘warts and all’ analysis edited by Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes and Bob Wyatt (see Charting 25 years of Charity Regulations – and its Impact on the Future).
The Parliamentary launch of the book was made by Anne Robinson AM, Chair of the Charity Law Association of Australia and New Zealand at Parliament House on 21 June.
Not a member?
If you are interested in the big issues that affect the future of the sector, we invite you to join us. CCA is an independent member based organisation founded by, and driven by leaders from the charities and not-for-profit sector. We welcome your interest and involvement. To discuss membership, please contact Deborah Smith on 02 6281 1739, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact Debbie if you would like to subscribe to our quarterly newsletter or have any queries about CCA and our work.
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