Submission to Productivity Commission study into the contribution of the Not For Profit Sector
By the Standing Committee of the Synod of the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney
• We are the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney. Our agencies provide a wide range of programs
including social welfare, education, health and ageing, youth, and homelessness. Our parishes and their
networks of people within congregations provide social cohesion and community within local geographic
communities – (see paragraphs 5-7)
• Historically the Diocese, together with other church and Christian charities, has been a major provider of
social services and a contributor to social capital throughout the community – (see paragraphs 8-9)
• Unincorporated entities, such as churches, contribute greatly to our programs and to enhancing social
inclusion through volunteer work and the maintenance of social networks. Any meaningful assessment
of the total service provision and contribution of the not for profit sector should take these entitles into
account – (see paragraphs 12-16)
• There is a need to better recognise and measure the non-economic contribution of the not for profit
sector to the social fabric of society, particularly in the areas of volunteering and social networking –
(see paragraph 17)
• Appropriate indicators focusing on outcomes and impacts should be developed in order to properly
measure the contribution of the sector – (see paragraph 18)
• The efficiency and effectiveness of the sector could be enhanced by government –
o Adopting a single accreditation process for all State and Federal programs
o Consulting during the development of contractual conditions
o Deferring acquittals until the end of the contract period, with annual accountability statements o Standardising the timing of reporting for service delivery outputs
o Maximising data access for service providers’ own reporting and internal evaluation purposes
o Consolidating and analysing data for high level reporting back with benchmarks
o Reviewing the current regulatory burden associated with volunteers in the workforce
o Not pursuing a “one-size-fits-all” approach to legal structure and disclosure regimes
(see paragraphs 19-27)
• The provision of government funded services could be improved by government –
o Streamlining the tender application process to reduce the administrative resource burden
o Adopting one simplified contract covering all government departments
o Ensuring funding is delivered on time and is sufficient to cover essential infrastructure
o Balancing calls for competitive neutrality with non-economic considerations to ensure the community
is not left with a reduced range of services and less favourable cohesion and social inclusion
(see paragraphs 28-34
Who we are
1. The name of our organisation is the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney.
2. This submission is made by the Standing Committee of the Synod of the Diocese. The Synod is the
principal governing body of the Diocese. The Diocese is the oldest and largest of the 23 Anglican dioceses which together form the Anglican Church of Australia.
3. The Diocese covers an area that stretches from Lithgow in the west, the Hawkesbury River in the
north and beyond Ulladulla on the NSW south coast. It encompasses Australia’s largest city as well as the city of Wollongong.
4. The Diocese is an unincorporated voluntary association comprising various incorporated and
unincorporated bodies. These bodies, together with the diocesan network of 267 parishes1, are accountable to the members of the Church through the Synod.
What we do
5. We provide a wide range of programs including social welfare, education, health and ageing, youth,
6. These programs are provided through our component bodies including large social welfare institutions
such as Anglicare2and Anglican Retirement Villages, as well as other charitable institutions including Anglican Youthworks3, and 39 Diocesan schools4.
7. However, the importance of our parishes and their networks of people within congregations to the
provision of these services should not be underestimated. They provide social cohesion and
community within local geographic communities. They are a natural social infrastructure which is an
effective base for the provision of services which contribute to community cohesion and social
8. Historically the Diocese, together with other churches and Christian charities, has been a major
provider of social services and a contributor to social capital throughout the community. From the early days of colonial settlement, throughout the 20thcentury and to the present day Christian charities in the not for profit sector have remained central to the provision of social services in Australia.
9. This historical perspective is set out in more detail in Appendix 15.
Scope of the study
10. General support: We generally support the Commission’s approach of adopting a broad view of the
not for profit sector for the purposes of assessing its contribution and progressively narrowing the study’s focus to consider the specific policy and capacity issues relating to the efficiency and effectiveness of the sector and the provision of government-funded services.
11. Early exclusion of unincorporated entities: However, we are concerned that by focusing less at an
early stage on unincorporated entities (Figure 1, page 11, Issues Paper) the Commission appears to
be suggesting that unincorporated entities do not provide “significant services” to the community and are not involved in the promotion of “social inclusion”. We believe that unincorporated entities, such
as churches, contribute greatly in these areas and therefore any meaningful assessment of the total
service provision and social inclusion contribution of the not for profit sector should take these entitles
1 The regular combined membership of our 267 parishes is about 80,000 people.
2 Anglicare relates to approximately 40,000 clients on an annual basis with counselling, children and youth services, emergency relief, family relationships and are not involved in the promotion of “social inclusion”. We believe that unincorporated entities, such
as churches, contribute greatly in these areas and therefore any meaningful assessment of the total
service provision and social inclusion contribution of the not for profit sector should take these entitles
into account.aged care.
3 Anglican Youthworks is the co-ordinator of work amongst children and young people and provides materials to 300,000 students,
supports 4,000 volunteer and employed scripture teachers, and 8,000 youth leaders attending training events. 50,000 mostly young people and children attend outdoor programs and centres.
4 Attended by approximately 35,000 students.
5 In light of this historical perspective, we would want to respectfully query the historical accuracy of the comment made on page 13 of the Issues Paper – “As governments have contracted-out areas of service provision the [not for profit] sector has moved into some more traditional public sector roles.
Measuring the contribution of the not for profit sector
12. Social services: Not for profit organisations make a major contribution in Australia to the provision of
social services. In this respect, church organisations deliver the overwhelming majority of Australia’s non-governmental social services –
(a) Anglicare Australia is the peak body for Anglican caring organisations in Australia which employ
12,000 staff and 20,000 volunteers, serving over 426,000 clients annually.
(b) Catholic Social Services Australia has 67 member organisations that employ over 10,000
people providing services to a million Australians annually.
(c) The Salvation Army operates some 520 centres across Australia providing employment,
emergency relief, crisis, counselling and other services.
(d) UnitingCare Australia employs 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers, serving around 2 million
Australians each year.6
While these four church agencies are among the biggest of these service providers, together they account for only part of the overall contribution made by church agencies, religious organisations and local churches to social service delivery in Australia. The many local churches are an important source of volunteers and staff for the large church agencies; some local churches are large enough to run their own social welfare programs.
13. Education: Not for profit organisations are also integral to the delivery of primary and secondary
school education in Australia. Again church organisations are the major non-governmental providers in this area. It is estimated that non-government schools educate around one third of Australian students and represent 28% of all Australian schools. Catholic schools alone represent two-thirds of non-
government schools with more than 600,000 students7. Anglican, Lutheran and Christian community schools are the other major providers in this sector.
14. Church and local community: Perhaps more importantly than the role of the large church agencies
in social service delivery, churches themselves are an integral part of thousands of local communities
and play an important role in enhancing social inclusion and cohesion8. Previous research by NCLS
Research, a church-funded research organisation, has provided evidence of the extent of local church
involvement in local communities. A major national survey of local churches found that almost half
(46%) of Anglican and Protestant churches allowed community groups such as aerobics classes and
Alcoholics Anonymous to use church property, some 45% of churches had representatives on
community groups or committees, 27% participated in special community activities such as community
fairs, 35% were directly involved in providing welfare services and 32% ran play groups, craft groups
and other leisure groups9.
15. Contribution to social fabric: Work by Mark Lyons and others indicates that compared to other
OECD countries, Australia ranks highly in terms of the economic contribution made by the not for profit
sector10. However, there is a need to recognise and measure the contribution of the not for profit
sector not only in terms of its economic contribution but also in terms of its contribution to the social
fabric of society. The not for profit sector enhances the social inclusion of individuals, community
development and cohesion, and the accumulation of social capital in communities through volunteer
work and the maintenance of social networks. Internationally there are a number of studies underway
to quantify the social contribution of the not for profit sector. In the United Kingdom this is currently
being attempted via a national survey of the Third Sector facilitated by government.
6 Access Economics (2008) The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Social Services in Australia, p2.
7 Australian Bureau of Statistics (2001) Schools Australia Preliminary, Canberra; Christian Research Association “Australian schools:
growth in the independent sector” viewed at http;//www.cra.org.au/pages/00000089.cgi
8 Access Economics (2008) The Impact of the Global Financial Crisis on Social Services in Australia, p2.
9 Kaldor, P, Bellamy, J and Moore, S (1995) Mission under the Microscope, Adelaide: Openbook, p39.
10 Lyons, Mark (2001)Third Sector: The Contribution of the Not for Profit and Cooperative Enterprises in Australia, Allen and Unwin,
Crows Nest, NSW, p204
16. Volunteers: The economic contribution of the not for profit sector can be partially ascertained by
examination of employment data, turnover, contribution to infrastructure and contribution to Gross
Domestic product. However, these are only partial measures since the contribution of those
organisations which do not employ people and the value of volunteering are both omitted from such
17. Volunteerism and churches: Churches are important generators of what has been termed ‘social
capital’. Social capital includes trust and reciprocity among individuals and groups, patterns of civic
engagement, volunteer work and confidence in social institutions. Data from the 2005 Giving Australia
survey provides evidence that having a religion – and high levels of church attendance in particular –
are positively related to volunteering activity11. Of the people who attend church frequently 56%
volunteer an average of 168 hours per year, whereas among people who say they have no religion
36% volunteer an average of 106 hours per year. Church attendees are more likely to do more hours
of volunteer work than the general population; such activity is by no means limited to congregational
life with many church attendees being active both within and beyond their congregation12.
18. Measurement of outcomes and impacts: We agree with the approach proposed by the
Commission to use a range of indicators for evaluating the contribution of the not for profit sector. We
believe in the past there may have been an over reliance on the more easily quantifiable measures of
inputs and outputs and agree with the inclusion of outcomes and impacts in the conceptual framework
outlined (Figure 2, page 22, Issues Paper). In particular we would emphasise the importance of
developing appropriate indicators of outcomes and impacts, including the intangible and perhaps non-
quantifiable outcomes and impacts, in order to properly measure the contribution of the sector.
Enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the not for profit sector
19. Accreditation: There are significant variations in the expectations that various Government
Departments place on service providers in order to meet accreditation standards. Responding to these
variations takes considerable resources and staff time. One agency can deliver a mix of funded
programs and the reporting mechanisms and processes are very different for Home and Community
Care (HACC) and Commonwealth funded programs. HACC goes through an integrated monitoring
process and the Commonwealth goes through a quality reporting process. The two processes are
different in that one requires the preparation of a self assessment desktop audit and the other
conducts workplace assessment. Some service providers are responsible for several programs which
each include the two types of funding streams. It would be helpful, therefore, if all governments
adopted a more co-ordinated approach using one monitoring process. Although preliminary work has
been done on moving to common community care standards as part of merging aged care into one
service system, it appears that the proposed change has been put on hold until further notice.
20. It is recommended, therefore, that government departments at both State and Federal level coordinate
their expectations around governance to achieve accreditation for all programs through a one-off
process. The current duplication detracts from the financial and emotional capacity of not for profits to
deliver the outcomes desired by government funders. While recognising there is a need for
compliance reporting, that reporting should be framed so that it adds value to both parties.
21. Government contracts: The language of Government contracts with service providers is often
confusing. Some of our agencies report that recently there has been discussion of a clause in the
FRSP contracts which means all sub-contracting relationships whether with direct or indirect services
are treated as though they are with direct services. Our agencies have provided feedback on this
issue but it has been a frustrating process ensuring that the feedback gets to the right person and then
that it is understood (as those drafting contracts are often quite divorced from service delivery issues).
Government at all levels could improve their transparency in the development of these contracts and
ask for feedback from the sector on any concerns about contractual conditions before contracts are
finalised. The process to date has generally been that the service providers are offered a particular
contract format (sometimes even without the applicable conditions) on a take it or leave it basis.
11 Lyons, M (2006) “Giving time and giving money” Paper presented to the Inaugural Volunteering Research Symposium, Melbourne, 7-8 March.
12 Leonard, R and Bellamy, J (2006) “Volunteering within and beyond the congregation: A survey of volunteering among Christian church attendees” Australian Journal on Volunteering11:2, pp 16-24.
22. Acquittals: The acquittals process is complex and inconsistent across programs. If there was a
common practice in place it would assist the not for profit establish best practice and improve
efficiencies in the management of its governance obligations. Regardless of the length of the contract
(1-5 years) acquittals have to occur annually. If there is a surplus, which is usual in the first year with
set up etc, the not for profit has to apply to retain the surplus. Sometimes it can take 6 months or
more before the result of the application is made known, which then puts pressure on the not for profit
to spend any surplus before the end of the next financial year. It would be administratively easier if
acquittals were not required until the end of the contract period. The not for profit could still supply an
annual statement for accountability. Accountability for the use of tax payer money is paramount for
both the government and the not for profit service provider. However, the process of assessing
accountability is one that should add value and further inform the evaluation of program outcomes for
both parties, and not just report against a financial compliance regime.
23. Inconsistent reporting requirements: With different funding types there is no consistent approach
between the State and Federal Government in relation to reporting service delivery outputs – the State
HACC programs are reported quarterly and the Commonwealth National Respite Carer Program
(NRCP) programs are reported half yearly.
24. Data issues: Each government funded program has its own reporting requirement and separate
database system. This requires data entry at the service end but provides minimal reporting back to
the services. It is not possible to access the program data once it is entered in either the State or
Federal Government database, and so a system of double entry of data is required – which is
extremely time consuming and inefficient. What is required is either access to the program or service
data by the service after it is entered or more sophisticated reporting back from government. It is
therefore recommended that Government review the current data capture system for funded programs
with the aim of providing maximum data access to services for their own reporting and internal
25. Data consolidation: Currently a significant amount of data is being captured by governments in
various databases for various programs across the country. However there appears to be no intention
to consolidate and analyse this data for high level reporting back to the sector on performance and
outcomes. There is a consistent focus by government on inputs into the programs but very little
reporting of outputs or outcomes back to the sector. Benchmarking and regular reviews of
performance in key funding areas would be possible if such global data analysis was carried out.
26. Effect of regulation: The direct application of some legislation designed primarily to regulate the for
profit sector to the not for profit sector is becoming an increasing hindrance to attracting volunteer
workers in the not for profit sector. This is particularly the case in smaller not for profits. Examples
include the effect of OH&S legislation on a range of volunteer roles and the financial and prudential
obligations that may attach to volunteer members of boards. While issues surrounding things such as
safety and financial responsibility may be universal and clearly warrant equal standards across all
organisations, not for profits generally would benefit from having legislation that recognised the
important differences in circumstances between the for-profit sector and not for profits. For example,
the need for the volunteer to devote their ‘own time’ to achieving the formal competencies required by
the regulations is presently a disincentive to the individual volunteering to work for the not for profit.
27. Disclosure and governance: Our submission to the Senate Inquiry into Disclosure regimes for
Charities and Not For Profit Organisationsmakes a number of points concerning disclosure and governance which are relevant to the Commission’s focus on enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of the not for profit sector. Our concerns are summarised in a letter to the Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector included as Appendix 2.
Provision of government funded services
28. Some of the matters detailed below (in particular funding application issues, multiple contractual and
reporting arrangements, delay in funds delivery) also have a direct impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of the not for profit sector.
29. Funding application issues: Most of the State and Federal Government funding available to the not
for profit sector is accessed via the tender process. Each tender is specific and different from every
other tender – with different criteria and demands. The process of tender application is extremely time
consuming and resource demanding. Streamlining the process would reduce the administrative and resource burden on agencies and also provide a more equitable tender environment. Currently small agencies have difficulty finding the resources to commit to the tender writing process. However, if they do not comply with the process their programs will no longer be funded.
30. Multiple contractual and reporting arrangements: Every Government Department has a different
funding agreement or contract with different accountability requirements. This creates issues in terms
of multiple reporting and is extremely resource intensive requiring considerable commitment of staff
time by the not for profit. Family and Housing Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FaHCSIA)
and the Attorneys General Department, currently responsible for Family Relationship Support
Program (FRSP) funded services have attempted to improve the current reporting issues by the
drafting of simplified contracts with reduced reporting requirements. These contracts are expected to
come into effect for some of the services provided by our agencies from July 1, 2009, with the option
of other services which are not due for renewal until June 2011 being added to this cover. In general,
having one simplified contract with any government department (such as FRSP services) with one
end date and simplified reporting requirements would be helpful. This would also reduce the auditing
31. Agency training and support: In general funding providers are not very proactive in providing
ongoing guidance, training, and relevant tools to grant recipients.
32. Delay in funds delivery: Funds are sometimes received later than had been indicated, with the effect
of delaying the commencement of programs or delivery of crucial services.
33. Funding for infrastructure: Currently many government funded programs provide funds for service
delivery but insufficient funds for infrastructure development – including buildings, office space and IT.
For example, Community Care Day Centres are given limited funding to operate efficiently and
effectively where often premises may require additional funds to ensure the safety and well-being of
both clients and staff is maintained. The not for profit service provider is left with a funding shortfall
because its property and rental expenses include a component based on usage which includes costs
associated with maintenance upkeep.
34. Competitive neutrality: We respectfully submit that the government not adopt a simplistic reliance
on competitive neutrality as the most important condition for competition for government contracts.
While superficially attractive, the use of this criteria may obscure the fact that the recently established
for-profit organisation may be offering a very limited service, targeted just at the most profitable part of
the sector. Also, a reliance on competitive neutrality does not recognise the particular non-economic
contribution made by the not for profits in service delivery. Unless the government takes these
matters into account we are concerned that the community could be left with a reduced range of
services, and less favourable outcomes and impacts in terms of community cohesion and social
For and on behalf of the Standing Committee
29 May 2009
Appendix 1 – Background to the role of the not for profit (charity) sector
1. Prior to the Second World War, social services in Australia were almost entirely delivered by charities:
importantly if you go back even further to the foundations of white settlement in NSW, the Benevolent Society was established in 1813 and is the oldest, if not the first, charity in Australia.
2. Originally established as the “NSW Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Benevolence in
these Territories and the Neighbouring Islands”, its founders were from a group of evangelical Christians in England called the “Evangelical Revival” who set out in 1813 to create a public society to promote evangelism in the Pacific and benevolence in Sydney. The vision of the Evangelical Revival was of a regenerated, caring society, and their program was comprehensive. The hand of perhaps the best known of them, William Wilberforce, was clearly seen in their determination to address the needs of the poor and excluded in Sydney society.
3. The founders of the Society were keen on evangelism as much as relief of poverty and distress, but as
a result of the influence of Governor Macquarie, they began to focus on the latter object (the relief of
poverty and distress) – and on the colony rather than the South Pacific. So the Society was
reconstructed in 1818 to focus solely on the care of the poor – in exchange for significant government
financial support in the form of cash, and the building of a substantial asylum building on the road to
4. This was an NGO to which the principal single contributor was the government. One of Australia’s
foremost historians of social history, Dr Brian Dickie, puts it this way: “Here was a public voluntary society, but one in which the government was the principal, though non-voting, subscriber to the funds used to pay running costs and virtually the sole source of capital funds.”
5. Wilberforce’s influence could be seen also in his strong support of penal reform in the colony – and the
improved treatment of the convicts: the rather enlightened “ticket of leave” system was a feature – not just a practicality in a colony without enough freeman workers – as was the insistence on a chaplain for the convicts, and Wilberforce encouraged Marsden to take up the position in Sydney.
6. Unfortunately the emphasis on Marsden as the “flogging parson” has meant he has been rather
unfairly maligned (interestingly he is a real hero in New Zealand). It has also meant we have missed
the significance of what was actually going on there. It was Marsden for example who convened the
committee to establish the first orphanages in Sydney and Parramatta in 1800 – with some
government funding as well as donations from the public – and the support particularly from Mrs King,
the wife of the Governor (so much so that the charity was often referred to as “Mrs King’s orphanage”).
Public support dropped off in time, so in that sense the charity as an institution did not continue.
7. In fairly quick succession district nursing services started (1820), asylums opened for the poor, blind,
aged and infirm (1821), maternity hospitals (1866) and the first Women’s Hospital in Australia
commenced (1901). In 1862, Sydney City Mission, “an unsectarian Christian organisation” began to
address poverty, and soon similar missions were in Brisbane (1859) and Adelaide (1867) (these
uniting recently as Mission Australia). Vincent de Paul started its services in Sydney in 1881. Homes
of Peace were established to provide palliative care by charities such as the Little Company of Mary
and Homes of Peace Hospitals (now Hope Health Care) which was established by the Deaconesses
within the Anglican Diocese of Sydney.
8. Many of these charities were established by the Churches, or people within the Churches. Hammond
Care had its origins from the social services provided by the Anglican Church at St Barnabas’ Broadway where RBS Hammond was minister at the start of the 20thCentury: during the Depression years his Hammond’s Social Services was the largest social service provider in Sydney. It became the Diocese’s social welfare arm, Anglicare Diocese of Sydney.
9. Around the country, the distribution to the poor of food and clothing, of housing relief or district nursing
support or asylums for destitute children or the aged or the dying – social services – prior to the Second
World War were overwhelmingly provided by parishes in the Diocese and religious based charitable
10. Our largest overseas aid and development organisation, World Vision Australia, began 41 years ago –
in 1966 by Evangelical Christians from a number of denominations.
Changing role of government
11. But society generally, and in particular government’s role, has changed since these organisations
began. After the Second World War and, indeed, throughout the second half of the 20thCentury, the State throughout the Western World took an increasing interest in the provision of social services. Jonathan Sachs (who until recently was the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth) refers to this as the “nationalisation of compassion”. The increasing expectation was that it was up to the State, not the individual or the community group, to be responsible for social services. Charity – once needs-based now became universal entitlement. The result was that in Western countries, compassion was nationalised.13
12. The interesting thing is, however, that this trend to increased State involvement in social service
provision differed markedly in Australia compared to the United Kingdom (and indeed Europe and Scandinavia generally) as well as the United States. In Europe these social services were viewed as “public services” delivered by the bureaucracy or government-run departments or local authorities. In the UK there was huge growth in the provision of social services through the local government authority or through local health Trusts.
13. But that is not what happened in Australia. In Australia, government took the view – in the main – that
there already were charities delivering these services. It would be more effective and efficient if the
increased government funding of these areas occurred through government subsidy of those existing
services rather than by a replication of them through the creation or growth of government
14. This decision had a profound impact on the character and nature and size of charities and non-profit
organisations in Australia compared to the United Kingdom and the United States. A comparison of a table of the top US charities by income (just one indicator but a revealing one) shows that at most 25% of the top US charities are social welfare providers. The largest 25 are not predominantly focussed on human social services. In the UK about 40% of the largest 25 are providers of social service like Oxfam for emergency relief or Mencap which advocates for people with disabilities.
15. The situation is quite different if you look at Australian charities. 23 of the 25 largest Australian
charities based on income are social welfare institutions, mostly religious-based. If you then exclude those that are focussed on education, they are almost all focussed upon social services.
16. The more pronounced involvement of NGOs in the provision of social services in Australia compared
to the US and the UK is arguably for the following reasons –
(a) First, in the pre-WW 2 years, when there was little involvement of government in these services,
it was the charities (largely church-based) that were doing it.
(b) Second, when the State became involved in the latter part of the 20thCentury in this area of
service provision, it decided in Australia (at least for domestic social welfare services) to work
through the existing service providers rather than, as in the UK, establish their own
17. The result is that there is an overwhelming presence today of charities in the provision of social
services – and these institutions are arguably some of the most efficient and effective to be found internationally.
Corporatisation and for-profit service providers
18. In the mid-1990s the Industry Commission inquiry into Charitable Organisations examined and
reported on the size, scope, efficiency and effectiveness of the services provided by charitable organisations. The recommendations of the Industry Commission’s report were the catalyst for much of the corporatisation of the not for profit sector that took place across Australia in the second half of the 1990s; a process that brought with it both opportunities and challenges.
19. The opportunities ranged from greater transparency and better efficiencies and governance to more
effective service delivery. These were taken up by many organisations including Anglicare.
13 Jonathan Sachs, The Politics of Hope, New York, 2001
20. The challenges hinged on greater competition for funding and increased Government regulation of the
not for profit sector, particularly for those organisations that receive Government funding. These
challenges have been further complicated by the growth of for-profit providers. The for-profit providers
have generally been recent entrants into the provision of services, they are selective in the choice of
services they provide, and their objective to maximise profit often sits in tension with the delivery of
high quality service.
21. The competition for funding has led to a decline in the natural partnerships that had formed between
like minded service providers and caused a certain paralysis of commentary or critique of Government policy for those that are dependent on Government funding.
22. It is also important to note that not for profits have historically provided services where there is
perceived need before this need is met by government. Typically government has followed, providing financial support for the services delivered by not for profits.
Appendix 2 – Copy of letter to Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens
25 February 2009
Senator the Hon Ursula Stephens
Parliamentary Secretary for Social Inclusion and the Voluntary Sector and
Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Prime Minister for Social Inclusion Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600
Dear Senator Stephens
Disclosure regimes for charities and not-for-profit organisations
I am writing to you on behalf of the Standing Committee of the Diocese about the report of the Senate Standing Committee on Economics on this matter. I understand that you are responsible for preparing the Government’s response to the report.
As indicated in its submission to the Inquiry Committee, our Standing Committee supports appropriate levels of transparency and accountability for all charitable and not-for-profit organisations. However we have some uneasiness with the “one size fits all” approach that appears to have been taken by the Inquiry Committee in a number of its recommendations.
Of particular concern is the recommendation that a single, mandatory, specialist legal structure be adopted
for all not-for-profit organisations (recommendation 6). We can see the merit of this recommendation insofar
as it relates to not-for-profit organisations which are incorporated associations or companies limited by
guarantee. However we are concerned that the Inquiry Committee, in its desire to simplify and standardise
regulation, did not adequately turn its mind to the difficulties involved in migrating other forms of not-for-profit
organisations to a mandatory legal structure. In our context, diocesan organisations constituted under the
Anglican Church of Australia (Bodies Corporate) Act 1938 (NSW) would be an example of a class of
organisations that would give rise to such difficulties. However they would not be alone in this regard.
We have similar “one-size-fits-all” concerns in relation to some of the recommendations concerning fundraising and reporting. These recommendations appear to reflect an emphasis throughout the report towards the accountability and transparency properly expected of organisations which undertake significant amounts of public fundraising and/or which receive significant amounts of government funding. A regulatory regime which is constructed with this as its sole focus risks imposing unnecessarily onerous obligations on not-for-profit organisations which are funded in less public ways.
We would appreciate if these matters could be kept in mind as you prepare the Government’s response to the Inquiry Committee’s report.
We would also appreciate consideration being given to including on any taskforce established to implement the recommendations of the Inquiry Committee, suitable representation on behalf of church and religious organisations as a distinct class of not-for-profit organisation.
I can be contacted on (02) 9265 1671 or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to discuss this