Media Release: Time for action on charities!

‘After decades of discussion, the time has come for real reform for the charitable sector,’ according to Rev Tim Costello, Chair of the Community Council for Australia (CCA) and CEO of World Vision. 

‘We have waited a long time to have an independent regulator dedicated to serving the interests of the not-for-profit sector.  Many charities are drowning in a sea of compliance, duplication and red tape that provides very limited benefit to anyone.  The sooner we can make real progress in reducing this wasted effort, the more time and effort charities can devote to doing what they do best – making a real difference for our communities.’

David Crosbie, CEO of CCA said ‘The Economics Committee has generally made some very positive suggestions that will improve the proposed new regulator for the sector, and there is no case for delaying the establishment Bills further.  The Australian Taxation Office is currently the default gateway to charitable status, a situation that many groups, including the Productivity Commission, have said is unacceptable.  The not-for-profit sector is too important economically (employing over 1 million Australians) and socially not to benefit from this proposed reform.’

Rev Tim Costello and Mr Crosbie were speaking after the tabling in Parliament today of the House of Representatives Economics Committee Report into the Bills to establish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC). 

CCA have previously highlighted that at present in Australia, every time a charity interacts with funders and regulators – whether it is a local council concession on rates, a state government approval for fundraising or an Australian Taxation Office concession – they have to prove they are a charity and establish their bona fides.   The proposed new ACNC will establish a charities passport which is being developed to cut through much of this red tape.   Once established, the ACNC will have to report to Parliament and to the not-for-profit sector who will be closely monitoring the work of the ACNC. 

Rev Costello said, ‘for an organisation like World Vision, it is often difficult to explain to people overseas that we do not have a ‘charities registration number’, that Australia does not have a charities regulator, and that copies of letters from the ATO are our way of proving that we are a genuine charity.’

CCA has consistently argued that while the ACNC is not a silver bullet solution to all problems besetting the charities sector, it is a fundamental reform that over time will enable not-for-profit organisations to focus more of their resources on serving their communities and less on wasteful duplication, red tape and compliance.

The revised Bills to establish the ACNC are expected in the Parliament within the next two weeks.

The report can be read in full at:

Contact:          David Crosbie (CEO)                                      0419 624 420