This is the first time since 2005 that the Charities Act is being reviewed. The Act is the main piece of legislation for the charitable sector and sets out how the regime is administered, what individuals and groups need to do to register as a charity, what benefits and obligations they have as a registered charity, and how they can appeal decisions.
During recent community meetings on the review many of you voiced your concerns with the current legislation, particularly with regard to the definition of charitable purpose and inconsistencies with registrations; the compliance burden especially on small charities; ineffective and costly appeal processes; and lack of clarity around advocacy. Concerns were also raised that the technical nature of this law review makes it difficult to engage for many in the sector.
The charitable sector helps with every aspect of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – housing, education, health, poverty reduction, closing the wealth gap, protecting the environment, wellbeing, etc. However, currently, the framework of charity law, and the way it is being administered, are “getting in the way” of charities’ ability to do that.
We now have an opportunity to make a charities act that supports a vibrant sector. It is therefore essential that charities get engaged with the review, and make a written submission to help the Government consider improvements to the Act.