Our Community says charity chief needs more time

By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Our Community

UPDATE: THE minister overseeing Australia's independent not-for-profit and charity regulator has committed to a transparent process in seeking a replacement after the shock decision to remove the head of the organisation sparked concern across the sector.

Susan Pascoe

Commissioner Susan Pascoe will end her five-year contract with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in September, leaving any new chief just two months to get across the difficult brief before a major review due in December.

The ACNC regulates 51,000 charities and supports hundreds of thousands of not-for-profits across the country.

Ms Pascoe has been Commissioner since the ACNC's formation in 2012 and helped ensure its survival through an attempt to abolish it in 2015.

In less than a week, more than 100 community sector organisations and leaders, including Our Community, co-signed a letter from the Community Council for Australia (CCA) to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling for reassurance about the organisation's future.

The ACNC is now under a fifth minister, Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, who has been appointed to oversee the ACNC's critical work.

"We believe Commissioner Pascoe should be reappointed, at least for another 12 months to enable the five-year review of the ACNC to be conducted without excluding her extensive knowledge and experience of how the organisation operates and performs," the letter reads.

Our Community managing director Denis Moriarty said the entire sector, and Our Community in particular, will be keeping a close eye on developments. He supports the call to extend the Commissioner's tenure in the best interests of the review, and to keep one of the few female leaders in government.

Michael Sukkar

"Ms Pascoe oversaw one of the best examples of bringing to berth a complex and new government agency that was beloved by its user base - probably a world first for a regulator," Mr Moriarty said.

"At the very least, any new Commissioner would need a deep understanding of the sector, and the sector should be consulted on the appointment. This should not involve the appointment of a political crony.

"It's extremely important that the ACNC be able to continue to do its independent work without hindrance, to ensure Australians can be confident they're dealing with bona fide charities and not-for-profit groups," Mr Moriarty said.

"Without the ACNC's proper stewardship of the sector, the community sector will suffer and so will charities and not-for-profits across the country, which could have a big impact on the economy."

Soon after the co-signed letter was distributed, Minister Sukkar assured the CCA that he supported a "transparent process for the selection of the next ACNC Commissioner" as well as conrfirming he would seek Ms Pascoe's input into the upcoming review, according to the CCA.  

The CCA was expected to hand deliver the letter to the Prime Minister's office, the Office of the Treasurer, the Shadow Minister for Charities and a number of cross bench Senators in Canberra on Tuesday, June 13.

Read the letter and further media coverage: http://tinyurl.com/acnc-letter2

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