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Charity concerns up 42 per cent in one year

Concerns about Australian charities rose by 42 per cent in 2017, according to a new report released today by the national charity regulator.

The Charity Compliance Report 2017, produced by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), reported that almost 1,700 concerns were raised about charities in 2017, up from 1,192 complaints in 2016.

The new report, which centred on the ACNC’s compliance activity, found that the increase was likely due to rising awareness of the national charity regulator and media coverage of charity misconduct.

ACNC Commissioner, the Hon Dr Gary Johns, confirmed that the number of charity concerns had increased each year since the regulator was established in December 2012.

“As awareness of the ACNC has grown over the last five years, we have seen a steady increase in the number of concerns raised about the activities and operations of charities,” Dr Johns said.

“Members of the public remain a valuable source of information, as they contributed 23 per cent of the concerns that our Compliance team assessed in 2017.

“And while concerns have increased, it is important to note that the majority of Australia’s registered charities do the right thing, and deliver significant public benefit to our community in a wide range of areas.

“There are of course a small number of charities that do the wrong thing and abuse the privileges of charity registration.

“In 2017, we investigated 202 charities, with 82 of these investigations being finalised.

“Twenty-six charities lost their charity registration as a result of these investigations, and a further 16 charities entered into Compliance Agreements with the ACNC.

“The charities subject to an ACNC compliance case in 2017 controlled over $5.9 billion of charitable assets in total.”

Poor governance was a common theme to emerge from the ACNC’s investigations.

“Due to the secrecy provisions in the ACNC Act, we’re unable to provide much detail regarding the findings of our investigations,” Dr Johns said.

“In this report we have anonymised our findings, and combined them to identify key charity compliance themes.

“The most common issues we identified related to poor financial controls, inadequate due-diligence, and a failure by charities’ responsible persons to act in the best interests of the charity.

“These issues, in addition to fraud, terrorism, harm to beneficiaries and disqualifying purposes, will be areas of focus for the ACNC in 2018.”

Key Statistics:

  • 1,695 concerns were raised, up 42 per cent from 2016
  • 202 investigations were opened, and 82 investigations were finalised
  • 26 charities had their registration revoked following investigations<
  • 16 charities entered into a Compliance Agreement with the ACNC, and 1 charity entered into an Enforceable Undertaking
  • 780 double defaulter charities had their registration revoked for failure to file two Annual Information Statements
  • Charities subject to compliance cases controlled over $5.9 billion of charitable assets in total

The full Charity Compliance Report 2017 is available on the ACNC website.

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