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Reforms to Queensland fundraising laws streamline compliance obligations for some: What eligible charities need to do to enjoy the benefit. PLUS a re-cap of fundraising regimes across Australian jurisdictions

Reforms have been made to Queensland charitable fundraising registration and reporting requirements for ACNC registered charities. These changes align Queensland’s approach with that of South Australia and Victoria.

The reforms do not apply automatically. ACNC charities, including those already registered as Queensland charities, must give the prescribed notice to the Office of Fair Trading to be eligible.

While any reduction of reporting requirements for charities is welcome, as our table below illustrates, there remains a mish mash of inconsistent and poorly explained fundraising laws across Australian jurisdictions that continue to impose an unnecessary compliance burden on charities.

Queensland update

The reforms were affected under amendments to the Collections Act1966 (Collections Act) made by the Casino Control and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2022 which came into effect on 1 May 2023.

ACNC registered charities that propose to conduct fundraising (called ‘appeals for support’ in the Collections Act) in Queensland no longer need to apply to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) to become a registered charity under Collections Act. Instead, under new Part 6A, ACNC registered charities can simply notify the OFT of their intention to fundraise via the online Charity ACNC Registration Notification Form (Charity ACNC Registration Notification) and will then be automatically granted deemed registration as a charity. No supporting documentation (such as a copy of the constitution) or information (such as the names of the charity’s responsible persons) is required.

The Queensland Government will still retain oversight of appeals for support conducted in Queensland. This means that deemed registrants remain subject to conduct requirements, record keeping requirements, financial management and offence provisions. However, the regulatory compliance burden is reduced. Deemed registrants:

·        are not required to obtain permission from the chief executive to amend their constitution or notify the          OFT if the constitution is amended;

·        are not required to inform the OFT of any changes to any particulars that the OFT keeps on the charity          register, such as changes to members of the charity’s governing body;

·        do not need to apply to the Minister for exclusive use of devices such as red poppies; and

·        are not required to abide by restrictions in the Collections Act on the use of charity names.

To take advantage of these reduced compliance obligations, ACNC registered charities that are already registered charities in Queensland must apply to become a deemed registrant using the Charity ACNC Registration Notification Form. Until they do, the current reporting requirements will continue to apply. Any existing conditions or sanctions on a charity’s registration will continue to apply on conversion to a deemed registrant.

The Minister has the power to deregister any deemed registrant or impose, amend or revoke conditions on deemed registration and there is a new offence for persons falsely claiming to have deemed registration. The chief executive may publish a list of deemed registrants on the Department’s website but as at the time of writing has not done so.

These changes follow reduced annual financial reporting requirements for registered charities that apply from 1 July 2022, under the Associations Incorporation and Other Legislation Amendment Regulation 2022. With limited exceptions (see the table below), ACNC registered charities do not have to lodge an annual return or provide financial statements to the OFT.

The current situation with fundraising regimes across Australia 

Watch this space

Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury Andrew Leigh insists that the federal government is moving toward installing nationally consistent fundraising rules after the Commonwealth government reached an agreement with State and Territory Treasurers early this year.

It is unclear when the States and Territories will roll out their plans however, NFP Lawyers will be providing updates on further legislative changes as soon as there is more information to hand.

Disclaimer – Reliance on Content

The material distributed is general information only. The information supplied is not and is not intended to be, legal or other professional advice, nor should it be relied upon as such. You should seek legal or professional advice in relation to your specific situation.

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