Review of Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

On 20 December 2017, the Australian Government released the terms of reference for a review of the legislation governing the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC).

The legislation to be reviewed is:

  • the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (ACNCAct), and
  • the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (Consequential and Transitional) Act 2012 (ACNC Transitional Act).

The ACNC was established in December 2012 as the independent national regulator of charities. The ACNC Transitional Act, which also commenced operation in December 2012, dealt with a series of consequential and transitional issues, including amendments to a range of Commonwealth taxation and other legislation to acknowledge and reflect the establishment and role of the ACNC.

In early 2014, in order to give effect to an election commitment, the Australian Government introduced a Bill to abolish the ACNC. However, that Bill did not ultimately proceed and the ACNC has continued its role as the regulatory body for the charities and not-for-profits sector in Australia.

The current review is being conducted to meet a requirement set out in schedule 1, part 9 of the ACNC Transitional Act, which provides that the Minister must cause a review to be undertaken of the first five years of the operation of the ACNC Act and the ACNC Transitional Act.

A review panel has been established to conduct the review. The terms of reference for the review include:

  • Inquiring into and making recommendations on appropriate reforms to ensure that the regulatory environment established by the legislation continues to remain contemporary and that the legislation delivers on its policy objectives
  • Evaluating the suitability and effectiveness of the legislation, including:
    • the extent to which the objects of the legislation continue to be relevant
    • whether the provisions of the legislation are effective in achieving the objects
    • whether the powers and functions of the ACNC Commissioner are sufficient to enable the objects to be met.

The full terms of reference are available on the Australian Government’s Treasury website at

Public submissions about the issues raised in the terms of reference are invited, with the closing date for such submissions being 28 February 2018.

The review panel’s report is to be provided to the Australian Government by 31 May 2018, with the report to then be tabled in the Australian Parliament.

We will publish a further update once the outcomes of the review are known.

Commonwealth Treasury also recently released a discussion paper about proposed amendments to the deductible gift recipient (DGR) system. The discussion paper and submissions received are available at If the proposals are implemented, they will reduce administrative complexity and improve governance by the ACNC and the Australian Taxation Office.

If you need information about charities or DGR issues, contact Chris Maxwell or Brent Manning.

The information in this publication is provided for general purposes only. It is not to be relied on as a substitute for legal advice. Crown Law and the Department of Justice and Attorney-General accept no liability for losses caused by reliance on the material in this publication. Formal legal advice should be obtained for particular matters.

Published: 24 January 2018

Author: Special Counsel Brent Manning