Ending almost two years of speculation, an announcement has finally been made on the future of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) with Government advising that the commission will be retained.

Minister for Social Services Christian Porter, stated that the decision came about after much consultation between the Government and various parties within the charitable sector. He went on to say that while there was a wide variety of views on the subject, there was sufficient support from within the industry to warrant the retention of the ACNC.

Importance to the Sector

In choosing to retain the ACNC, the Government has moved to address sector-wide issues relating to the onerous reporting requirements that have been in place over the past few years. Much has been written about this situation and there has been a big push for centralisation of regulation. A recent study commissioned by the ACNC entitled Cutting Red Tape discussed options for efficiencies across all levels of the sector. The decision to retain the ACNC will only add weight to the desire to make things easier for the sector in general when it comes to reporting and regulatory compliance.

Minister of Small Business Kerry O’Dwyer, speaking with Mr Porter commented on the situation stating: “Today’s announcement sees us striking the right balance between having effective public accountability and cutting red tape.”.

A Need to Refocus

Having retained their position as sector watchdog, the ACNC is now faced with the task of refocusing its resources. The challenges associated with the introduction of the NDIS and the move towards end user funding will see many organisations having to review their positions within the charities environment. The ACNC will really have to get down to its core function of helping the sector become more effective and improving their governance.

Working Together

With the ACNC repeal legislation now removed from parliament, the Government is now free to work with the ACNC on areas where bureaucracy and red tape prevent expansion and development. Initial action has seen the extension of the transitional reporting provisions which will see the ACNC continue to accept certain reports which have been lodged with other government agencies, effectively easing the reporting burden on some small to medium-sized organisations.

Moving Forward

The retention of the ACNC will bring a much-needed sense of calm to the Australian charities and not-for-profit sector. Given the huge cultural changes presently being experienced and the need to focus and plan for the road ahead, this decision could not have come at a better time.

Check out the Minister’s media release for the full story.