On 20 Dec 2017, the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer (Michael Sukkar MP) released the terms of reference for a review of the legislation governing the national regulator of charities, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

The Government is required to review operation of the ACNC, under legislation, now that it has been in operation for 5 years. The Legislation requiring this review is the Australian Charities and Not‑for‑profits Commission Act 2012 and theAustralian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Act 2012 both commenced operation in December 2012.

This review presents an opportunity to evaluate the performance of the legislative framework, the regulation of the sector and to identify any improvements that can be made.

Currently, the ACNC only regulates charities and not other not for profits.

Charities have annual revenue of $143 billion, or over 8 per cent of Australia’s GDP.  They employ more than 1.3 million people and engage 3 million Australians in volunteering their time and effort to helping others. There are 55,000 charities regulated by the ACNC.

But if the entire not for profit sector were considered, the number of volunteers would double to 6 million volunteers. A recent assessment identified approximately 257,000 non-profit organisations operating in Australia.

To inform the panel’s review, the Government has released a terms of reference. Written submissions from all interested parties in response to the terms of reference are due by 28 February 2018. Further information can be found on the Treasury consultation website.

The Government will closely monitor the review and its findings.

[Assistant Treasurer’s website: Media Release; Treasury website: Consultation Page; FJM; LTN 3, 5/12/18; Tax Month January 2018]


Terms of reference

This review will enable the Government to meet its statutory obligation that a review of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Act 2012 (together, the ACNC Acts) must be undertaken after their first five years of operation.

The Review Panel will inquire into and make recommendations on appropriate reforms to ensure that the regulatory environment established by the ACNC Acts continues to remain contemporary, that the ACNC Acts deliver on their policy objectives and that the ACNC Acts do not impair the work of the ACNC Commissioner to deliver against the objects of the principal Act; being:

  • to maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the Australian not-for-profit sector; and
  • to support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative Australian not-for-profit sector; and
  • to promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on the Australian not-for-profit sector.

The review should evaluate the suitability and effectiveness of the ACNC Acts. In particular, the review should:

  1. Examine the extent to which the objects of the ACNC Acts continue to be relevant.


  1. Assess the effectiveness of the provisions and the regulatory framework established by the ACNC Acts to achieve the objects.


  1. Consider whether the powers and the functions of the ACNC Commissioner are sufficient to enable these objects to be met.


  1. Consider whether any amendments to the ACNC Acts are required to enable the achievement of the objects and to equip the ACNC Commissioner to respond to both known and emerging issues.

The review should be informed by public submissions, by international experience, through round table discussions and by consultation on substantive issues identified before recommendations are made to Government.

A report on the review’s findings and recommendations will be required to be made to the Government by 31 May 2018. This report will be laid before each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of its receipt.

Some issues may be identified by the review panel that fall outside the scope of a statutory review of the ACNC legislation. The review panel should advise government of these matters and recommend whether further examination should be undertaken.



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