australian charities and not-for-profits commission (ACNC) REGULATIONS 2021

In 2021 the Government introduced new regulations that would have given the charities regulator sweeping powers to deregister charities for speaking out on behalf of the communities they serve.

This was despite unanimous opposition from the charity sector and a confirmation from the charities commissioner – the head of the regulator – that the supposed ‘problem’ that the regulations sought to solve doesn’t even exist.

It was an attack on civil society, free speech, and our democracy. And charities fought back .

The HOOC alliance coordinated a multifaceted response which put a spotlight on the issue in the media and galvanised charities and their supporters to call on federal politicians on all sides to oppose the regulations.

Eventually after a concerted campaign from the sector, on November 25 the Senate voted 24-19 in favour of Independent Senator Rex Patrick’s disallowance motion, meaning that the regulations would never come into effect.

This was a huge win for our democracy and a testament to the 100+ charities that worked tirelessly to ensure they could continue to speak out for their communities.

HOOC press conference outside Parliament House. 3 Aug 2021. Credit Martin Ollman.

media

The government is clamping down on charities – and it could have a chilling effect on peaceful protest. The Australian government introduced new regulations last week that could have a major chilling effect across Australia’s diverse charities sector. Krystian Seibert, The Conversation, 2 July 2021

Charities mustn’t be muzzled – Australian charities facing tough new operating regulations say the restrictions are an attempt to politically “muzzle” their advocacy work. Paul Ronalds, The Herald Sun, 2 July 2021

Charities still wary of updated plan to change governance standards. Luke Michael, Pro Bono Australia, 29 June 2021

Criticism over planned crackdown on charities – ABC NewsRadio with Dr Elizabeth Cham, 29 June 2021

Charities vow to fight proposed regulations they say will ‘muzzle’ their advocacy, RN Drive with Tim Costello, 28 June, 2021

Coalition accused of using charity crackdown to silence dissent, Daniel Hurst, The Guardian, 28 June 2021

Australian charities facing tough new operating regulations say the restrictions are an attempt to politically “muzzle” their advocacy work, 7 News, 27 June 2021.

Charities to face enforcement if they actively promote unlawful behaviour, Nadine Silva, SBS News, 25 June 2021

Major charities including Amnesty, Anglicare Australia, Brotherhood of St Laurence, CARE Australia, Oxfam and UnitingCare Australia took out a full page ad in The Australian calling on the Prime Minister to immediately abandon proposed regulations that target them with deregistration for speaking out on behalf of their communities, 24 June 2021

I did not dissuade Vladimir Putin from his crackdown but now Australia is employing the same tactic, Tim Costello, The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 June 2021

Proposed powers for charity head are an ‘unconstitutional overreach’, Amber Schultz, Crikey, 9 June 2021

Australian government crackdown on charities will stifle political advocacy, experts say, Christopher Knaus, The Guardian, 28 May 2021

Sweeping new laws that could strip charities of their non-profit status for minor offences are intended to stifle protest, the sector warns, Mike Seccombe, The Saturday Paper, 22 May 2021

Joint Media Statement: New rules would target charities: Church providers speak out – The leaders of major faith-based charities have come together against changes that would target charities. The changes will mean that charities could be targeted and shut down for subjective reasons, 6 May 2021

The federal government’s charity crackdown threatens farmer advocacy groups, James McManagan, The North Queensland Register, 31 May 2021

Joint Media Statement: New rules would target charities: Church providers speak out – The leaders of major faith-based charities have come together against changes that would target charities. The changes will mean that charities could be targeted and shut down for subjective reasons, 6 May 2021

The federal government’s charity crackdown threatens farmer advocacy groups, James McManagan, The North Queensland Register, 31 May 2021

Joint Media Statement: New rules would target charities: Church providers speak out – The leaders of major faith-based charities have come together against changes that would target charities. The changes will mean that charities could be targeted and shut down for subjective reasons, 6 May 2021

Government signals harsher penalties against charities supporting unlawful behaviour, Maggie Cogan, Pro Bono Australia, 15 December 2020

Government looks to broaden ACNC’s powers amid crackdown on unlawful activity, Luke Michael, Pro Bono Australia, 18 February 2021

Pushing back: The role of charities in strengthening our democracy, David Crosbie, CEO of the Community Council for Australia in Pro Bono, 25 February 2021

Charities slam government plan to deregister organisations that may commit crimes, Royce Kurmelovs, The Guardian, 25 February 2021

‘Unconstitutional, indefensible’: Lawyers bash proposed changes to charity sector, Jerome Doraisamy, Lawyers Weekly, 16 March 2021

Religious charities concerned over proposed changes to the sector, Toby O’Connor, CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society’s National Council of Australia, speaks to ABC NewsRadio’s Glen Bartholomew, 6 May 2021

Religious organisations slam plan to shut down charities for minor offences, Luke Michael, Pro Bono Australia, 6 May 2021

Proposed law changes put charities at risk, Joe Zabar, Eureka St, 11 May 2021

Sweeping new laws that could strip charities of their non-profit status for minor offences are intended to stifle protest, the sector warns, Mike Seccombe, The Saturday Paper, 22 May 2021

Australian government crackdown on charities will stifle political advocacy, experts say, Christopher Knaus, The Guardian, 28 May 2021

The federal government’s charity crackdown threatens farmer advocacy groups, James McManagan, The North Queensland Register, 31 May 2021