Not-For-Profit Newsletter – March 2016
Welcome to the March Not-for-profit Newsletter.
In this edition we report on:
- The future with ACNC confirmed;
- Recent activity concerning basic religious charities;
- Public benevolent institutions and accounting standards;
- Sanctuary for Asylum Seekers.
We trust you will find the layout useful, with short commentary linked to more detail, for those wishing to delve beyond page 1.
If you seek any other information on matters raised please do not hesitate to contact us.
The Not-For-profit Team.
ACNC Here To Stay
On Friday 4 March 2016 Minister for Social Services Christian Porter and Minister for Small Business and Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer announced that the Australian Charities and Not- for- profits Commission (ACNC) will be retained. This announcement has been long awaited as the former Minister for Social Services, Robert Andrews, had publicly declared that the ACNC would be disbanded. The ministerial media release stated that retention of ACNC will “strike the right balance between having effective public accountability and cutting red tape”. It emphasized that the future focus of ACNC is to be more effective in helping charities improve governance and the ministers committed the government to working with ACNC to remove duplication and increase accountability and transparency.
Are you a Basic Religious Charity?
ACNC is presently auditing misreporting by entities claiming basic religious charity status and has communicated with many charities identifying three reasons why such charities are required to modify information they have provided in their Annual Information Statements.
What is a public benevolent institution Charity?
ACNC is also working with its constituents to publish an Interpretation Statement on eligibility criteria for public benevolent institutions. Presently many applicants are taking advantage of the decision in the Hunger Project case  to secure public benevolent institution status notwithstanding they only fundraise and also notwithstanding that money raised is sent overseas.
Sector Specific Accounting Standard?
The Australian Accounting Standards Board is liaising with the sector concerning the publishing of an accounting standard which would be sector specific. This would replace the dilemma many charities face as to whether they need to prepare general purpose or special purpose accounts.
Sanctuary if not asylum? Can Churches offer a legal hope to asylum seekers in the wake of Plaintiff M68-2015 v MIBP  HCA 1
Recently the High Court handed down its decision in Plaintiff M68-2015 v MIBP  HCA 1 affirming the legality of deporting some 210 asylum seekers (including 50 children) back to Nauru after receiving medical treatment in Australia. Now, led by Anglican Dean of Brisbane, Dr Peter Catt, a number of churches and two orders of religious are planning to invoke the Christian tradition of “sanctuary” to offer church and cathedral premises to asylum seekers as sanctums from law enforcement agencies.