Media Release

Abbott urged to declare community sector "open for business"

November 13, 2013

The Abbott Government is being urged to match its business reform agenda with a similarly focussed approach to red tape reduction for Australia's $60 billion not-for-profit sector.

Our Community Group Managing Director Denis Moriarty today called on Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the ministers with areas of responsibility for the not-for-profit sector, Arthur Sinodinos and Kevin Andrews, to declare the not-for-profit sector "open for business".

"The 600,000 not-for-profit groups that make up this sector are responsible for the life-changing and life-saving social fabric that binds our country together," Mr Moriarty said.

"The government cannot afford to ignore this huge and enormously important sector as it sets about implementing its red tape and legislative reform agenda."

Mr Moriarty said not-for-profit groups were hungry for meaningful reforms, and the election of the new Abbott Government offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply a blow-torch to bureaucracy, red-tape, and wasteful duplication.

He highlighted two reforms that would have a massive impact on not-for-profit groups of all sizes across the country, as well as the individuals and communities they supported:

  1. Creation of a new national not-for-profits registrar: Rather than abolishing the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), the government should build upon its foundations to create a "one-stop-shop" for not-for-profits, combining the ACNC and the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Organisations (ORIC). All states and territories, as well as the Australian Tax Office, should immediately refer responsibility for registering and coordinating not-for-profit organisations to this new body.
  2. Abolition of fundraising licenses: The registration of a not-for-profit with the federal registrar should immediately confer on that organisation the right to fundraise. All states and territories should abolish their own inconsistent and largely meaningless systems of fundraising licensing. The new registrar should also be responsible for administering the Overseas Aid Gift Deduction Scheme for organisations fundraising for international causes.

Mr Moriarty is the founder and Group Managing Director of one of Australia's first and most successful social enterprises, Our Community, Australia's Centre for Excellence for the not-for-profit sector. Our Community, which is chaired by leading businesswoman Carol Schwartz, has more than 60,000 members and brings together more than 3,000 not-for-profit fundraising appeals through Australia's only commission-free online donations portal (GiveNow.com.au).

Mr Moriarty said not-for-profit laws and regulations needed radical reform to ensure they made sense in a world where state boundaries were meaningless to people wanting to check the bona fides of a not-for-profit, or make a donation to one.

"Governments are committing fraud on the general public in pretending their fundraising licensing systems are effective," he said.

"In fact, they are next to useless in protecting the public from poor fundraising practices. Their sole purpose seems to be to employ public servants to make time-starved not-for-profit groups run through a paperwork jungle of red tape."

Mr Moriarty said the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission had the strong support of Our Community members, as evidenced by the results of a recent survey that found 75% supported the commission.

He said the ACNC's new online Annual Information Statement had helped move the sector towards improved transparency and efficiency.

Mr Moriarty congratulated Mr Abbott on his plans to reinstate the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership, saying it was an important initiative for increasing individual and corporate social responsibility.

"The Partnership should work on increasing support for good causes across the board, rather than just the 'chirpy charities', with special focus by the Partnership given to the causes that often find it hard to raise funds, such as family violence, women's homelessness and disability," he said.


More information:

Denis Moriarty | 03 9320 6800 | denism@ourcommunity.com.au