Emil Ford Lawyers

5 Areas of Focus for the ACNC until 2019

In its recently released Charity Compliance Report  for 2015-2016, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission has highlighted that it is seeking to improve public trust and confidence in the not-for-profit sector by tightening its focus on 5 key areas over the next 2 years. These areas are fraud and financial abuse mismanagement, terrorism, harm to beneficiaries, political activities and the late lodgement or lodgement of inaccurate Annual Information Statements.

Fraud and Financial Abuse Mismanagement

The majority of complaints received by the ACNC in 2015-16 were in the areas of governance breaches, fraud, lack of transparency and mismanagement. Worryingly, a rather large portion of complaints focused on the charity breaching its own governing document. We remind charities and not-for-profits of their obligation to adhere to both their governing document and the ACNC Governance Standards.



By liaising with law enforcement and intelligence agencies, the ACNC is increasing its awareness of the risk of terrorism or extremism within Australian charities. All charities and not-for-profits should be doing their own self assessments, but those charities that provide financial assistance to people in countries that are at a high risk of terrorism activity and money laundering should ensure they know who is receiving their funds. At some stage in 2017, a comprehensive risk assessment of the Australian not-for-profit sector will be released by the ACNC in collaboration with AUSTRAC and the ATO.

Harm to Beneficiaries

It goes without saying but charities and not-for-profits (and particularly by those which work with vulnerable people) must always act in the best interests of their beneficiaries and take all reasonable steps to prevent harm to them. If working with the vulnerable does form part of the activities of your charity or not-for-profit, you should ensure that any staff or volunteers are adequately trained to work with these people, and that your organisation has developed and circulated comprehensive policies to the relevant people.

Political Activities

We remind charities and not-for-profits that promoting or opposing a political party or a candidate for political office is a disqualifying purpose, as is engaging in or promoting activities that are unlawful or contrary to public policy. These disqualify the organisation from having charitable status.

Late Lodgement or Lodgement of Inaccurate Annual Information Statements

2016 Annual Information Statements are now overdue. For the next few years, the ACNC will continue to issue formal penalty notices to charities that are late in submitting their Annual Information Statements, and will require charities to correct errors that they identify.

Contact or with any queries you have regarding the ACNC's 5 areas of focus.

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