The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, has invited written submissions on the Exposure Draft for the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Bill. Submissions close Friday 20 July 2012. The ACNC’s frequently asked questions contain most of the relevant information. The Committee webpage has information on making a submission. And the Commonwealth Treasury site lists the public consultations that have fed into this Bill.
This Bill will affect which information charities report, who they report it to and how it’s made available to the public. It’s been prepared by the Commonwealth Treasury, so feedback from the sector and stakeholders (including state governments) is essential. This isn’t an easy task, because Australia hasn’t had a national charity regulator before.
The consultations seem to have focused on setting out the purpose and function of the regulator and how much work charities will have to do to comply with the new systems. Less discussion has taken place on the long-term implications for charities and their funders – particularly regarding the use of data to rate or rank charities and the pressures this may place on charities or funders to behave differently. For example, classifying large reserves as low risk in constructing a risk measure encourages charities to stockpile reserves, which may reduce their cash flow for running the programs that benefit the community. Government funders may be required to compare the efficiency of the programs or organisations they fund with the wider sector as more information becomes available.