The Government plans to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission and establish a National Centre for Excellence (NCE) in its place.
The axing of the Commission threatens up to 100 Public Service jobs.
Minister for Social Services, Kevin Andrews said the NCE would support innovation, help to build capacity in the sector, provide education and training and work to reduce reporting and regulation with the civil sector.
“The role of charities and not-for-profit organisations in our community is important and the Government believes that supporting the sector’s ability to self-manage allows organisations to focus more on their work in the community, Mr Andrews said.
Axe falls on watchdog
The Canberra Times reported that the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) was set up to uncover fraud and corruption in the sector. It had recently released its first full-year results showing dozens of allegations of fraud and corruption in the nation's charities.
The report stated that the Commission had received more than 200 complaints in its first year of operation with more than a third of them alleging fraud, fund-raising scams or individuals using charitable donations to enrich themselves.
The Commission’s report states that there were currently 55 cases still open. Eight of these involved investigations of "serious matters."
Commissioner at ACNC, Susan Pascoe said the bulk of the first year's work had been the establishment of a register of charities to bring Australia into line with other developed nations.
Ms Pascoe said the regulator had been actively working to protect public trust and confidence in charities through its regulatory function.
“There are 202 charity-related concerns. This is an average of 17 charity-related concerns per month,” she said.
“The majority of the concerns (131) were raised by the public, 40 were referred by other Government Agencies and the remainder (31) came from other sources and active intelligence”.
She said referrals to the ACNC from other Government Agencies had come from 11 different Agencies, including seven State Government bodies and four Commonwealth Agencies.
“The majority of concerns raised about charities fit three main risk types. These are: governance (50), fraudulent or criminal activity (48), and private benefit (21),” Ms Pascoe said.
However, Mr Andrews said the ACNC had imposed “an unnecessary and ponderous compliance burden” on the sector and its abolition would “cut red tape”.
"We want to transfer the focus from coercive compliance and regulation to collaborative education, training and development," Mr Andrews said.
He said he wanted to have the legislation to abolish the Commission in Parliament within the next two months and the Centre of Excellence established in the 2014-2015 financial year.
The Minister said he also wanted to restore the role of the Australian Taxation Office, which previously regulated much of the sector.
Download the ACNC’s compliance overview from this PS News link.