Justice Connect welcomes the announcement by the Hon. Dr Andrew Leigh MP (Federal Assistant Minister for Charities) and the Hon. Melissa Horne (Victorian Minister for Consumer Affairs) which stated that a national framework for charitable fundraising laws is expected to be released later in 2022.
The introduction of consistent, principles-based fundraising requirements would mark a significant milestone on the issue, and mean charities could spend less of their limited resources navigating seven sets of complex laws, and more time supporting our community’s most marginalised members.
We welcome the Queensland Government’s proposal to introduce a cross-border recognition scheme for charitable fundraising registration.
However, we strongly recommend that the scheme be extended to recognise the annual reports provided to the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC) as satisfying the annual reporting requirements under the Collections Act 1966 for those ACNC registered charities.
Read our submission:
We welcome the Australian Labor Party’s announcement that they will commit to fixing Australia’s outdated fundraising laws and reducing red tape for charities.
The Australian Labor Party has shown a long-standing commitment to this issue as a key part of easing the regulatory burden for charities, and the #FixFundraising coalition was pleased to see their continued support.
The Morrison Government has established a working group after an announcement in December 2021 that the Council on Federal Financial Relations (CFFR) would make charitable fundraising rules reform one of its top 10 priorities for 2022.
A month ahead of the federal election, Justice Connect calls on the incoming Government to implement their commitment to fixing fundraising so that charities can get on with their job of supporting communities.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Senator Zed Seselja announced reforms to fundraising regulations to create a single, cross-border recognised registration point for charities.
The #FixFundraising reforms will:
Justice Connect has been advocating for these changes for years and will continue to do so until all the changes needed to #FixFundraising in Australia are implemented.
The Charities Crisis Cabinet, together with the #FixFundraising coalition and other supporters published the paper ‘Proposing a way forward for better fundraising regulation’.
In this paper, Australian governments are urged to build on the work currently proposed by states, to go further to reduce costly red tape and create a genuinely national system in the three main areas: Registration, Regulation (ongoing obligations) and Reporting. It also proposes that the ethical fundraising practice principals drafted by the Charities Crisis Cabinet (the Australian Fundraising Principles) will be simultaneously adopted by each jurisdiction in their own laws as the ‘Standard Conditions of Deemed Authority’.
We filed a response to the proposed Charitable Fundraising Regulation 2020 (NSW) on 2 September 2020.
The Federal Government has taken a possible step towards fundraising harmonisation with the release of a discussion paper on a proposed cross-border recognition model by the working group of state and territory officials. Under this model, a charity already registered with the ACNC would be deemed to hold a local fundraising authority in each participating state or territory. While there are further details to consider, we welcome developments that could lead to the harmonisation of fundraising laws in Australia and continue to work for a full solution. The deadline to file submissions in response to the discussion paper was 18 September 2020.
The Shadow Assistant Minister for Charities and Senator Catryna Bilyk published a press release noting that Australian charities continue to spend more than one million dollars per month complying with outdated laws, almost two years after the Morrison Government was urged to take action to reduce the administrative burden.
The Victorian Consumer Legislation Amendment Act 2019 (Vic) (the Act), which makes some welcome changes to the Fundraising Act 1998 (Vic) (the Fundraising Act), received assent on 3 December 2019. We summarised these changes in a published news item. The changes are effective from 31 August 2020.
Western Australia addressed the onerous compliance requirements of charities and made welcome changes to its Charitable Collections Act 1946.
As a result of these changes:
For more information, read the Government of Western Australia’s online announcement.
Regulators across the country have acknowledged that charities face a unique challenge with COVID-19 which will have an impact on fundraisers.
Organisations will still need to acknowledge multiple registrations if fundraising in more than one state or territory.
However, regulators will take a ‘supportive and educative approach’ for organisations that cannot comply because of COVID-19.
The NSW Office of Fair Trading has published a statement to this effect on behalf of regulators across Australia.
In a blow to the #FixFundraising campaign, the Federal government (in a report dated 6 March 2020) has rejected the recommendation of its own expert panel by:
The Coalition for fundraising reform issued a media release on the same day.
On Tuesday 22 October, leaders from the charity, business and philanthropic sectors met with regulators and advisers at a forum to drive action to reform Australia’s antiquated fundraising laws.
Zed Seselja, Assistant Minister for Finance, Charities and Electoral Matters, attended a forum hosted by the Governance Institute of Australia and listened to household name charities discuss the need to #FixFundraising.
State and territory consumer ministers miss an opportunity to discuss fundraising reform. Fundraising reform did not make it onto the agenda at the annual Consumer Affairs Forum meeting in New Zealand on 30 August.
Opposition charities spokesperson Andrew Leigh MP expressed disappointment that the coalition government hadn’t followed through with its election commitment.
All major parties have committed to fixing Australia’s fundraising laws as part of their election platform.
With a stronger, simpler and smarter regime, Australia can build a modern fundraising system that works as well for donors as it does for our vital charities. Read more about each party’s commitment, and about the full package of charity reforms that Labor has promised.
It is well past time to #FixFundraising. Please join us in calling on each of the major parties to make an election commitment to reform the laws that apply to the fundraising activities of charities. We need this to be an election promise so we can hold them accountable. This needs to be a political priority.
We seek a commitment from each of the major parties that, if elected in May 2019, the new government will:
Within its first 30 days, commit to implementation of recommendation 25 from the Strengthening for Purpose: Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Legislative Review 2018 Report (that ‘The Australian Consumer Law be amended to clarify its application to charitable and not-for-profit fundraising and a mandatory Code of Conduct be developed’).
Within its first 100 days, convene a meeting of all Ministers with responsibility for the Australian Consumer Law with the sole purpose of discussing amendments that would support better regulation of fundraising activities by and on behalf charities, including consideration of a core mandatory code.
Support the repeal of existing fragmented State and ACT fundraising laws by ensuring the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is enabled as the one-stop shop for relevant reporting and registration, including its ability to securely share data with State, Territory and Commonwealth regulators.
Read the full letters:
The Select Committee on Charity Fundraising in the 21st Century was set up to inquire and report on the current framework of fundraising regulation for charities and options for reform (on 19 June 2018). We attended a hearing on 29 October 2018 and later submitted answers to questions that we had taken on notice.
More than 95 submissions were made. Read the submissions.
In our submission we made one recommendation:
That the Senate Select Committee on Charitable Fundraising in the 21st Century recommends the Federal Government actively support and assist with the development of a nationally-consistent, contemporary and fit-for-purpose charitable fundraising regime for implementation no later than mid-2019 by:
Read our submission:
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission review panel report was tabled in Parliament on 22 August 2018. It makes 30 recommendations aimed at finding a balance between supporting the sector, reducing red tape, enhancing accountability and addressing misconduct.
Overall, in our view, it is a clear, sensible and well-written report that supports our campaign to #FixFundraising in Australia. It recommends that the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) be amended to clarify its application to charitable and not-for-profit fundraising and a mandatory Code of Conduct be developed to sit alongside the ACL. While it is music to our ears to have yet another independent report attest to what we, and many other organisations and peak bodies, have long been calling for, the time for action is now. Yet another welcome recommendation is that the exemption from financial reporting for basic religious charities (BRC) be reviewed. In our submission (in more detail below), we called for the removal of the concept of BRC, as it’s not clear what special attributes BRC organisations have which justifies a lower level of regulatory oversight (no financial reporting or compliance with ACNC governance standards). We will be watching closely how Government responds to this recommendation.
We’ve put together a video unpacking some of the key recommendations in the 144-page report.
Watch the video:
You can read our full submission below:
Please read our supplementary submission below:
The campaign coincided with the review of the Australian Consumer Law. See our submission:
The final report of the ACL Review was published on 19 April 2017. Access a copy of the report. It confirmed that ‘in many cases the activities of fundraisers in seeking donations are captured by general provisions of the ACL’, however, there is a lack of guidance on the application of the ACL (to fundraising). The report noted the immediate need for such guidance and proposes it be developed as a priority project for 2017. Read the guidance.
It also proposed that a project be undertaken to ‘assess the effectiveness of the guidance’ and that ‘this project will look at how this could inform whether any future reforms are needed to enable the sector to work more effectively to the benefit of the Australian community’. After lobbying by the #FixFundraising campaign, Consumer Affairs ministers agreed the project commence in 2018-2019. We now await further news of the commencement of the project.
Note the final report also stated that ‘some parts of the sector also suggested that the ACL should be amended so that the generic protections in particular apply expressly to fundraising. It was said that this would provide the reassurance needed to help state and territory governments reform their local fundraising laws, potentially in conjunction with enhanced self-regulatory regimes. Some stakeholders had strong views that these local laws were inconsistent, not suited to cross-border activities, online activities and crowdsourcing, and hinder the work of the not-for-profit sector.’ No further comment was provided on this suggestion.
Read our media release:
On Wednesday 5 April 2017, the signatories* of the Joint Statement on Fundraising reform along with the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association (PFRA) and the Fundraising Institute of Australia (FIA) wrote an open letter to the Prime Minister and all heads of governments. The letter calls on governments to prioritise working together to fix fundraising so community organisations can get on with what they do best – building flourishing communities. The latest version of the letter, 29 August 2017, contains more than 190 signatories.
Read the open letter: