‘Charities matter’

Fri, 4 Aug 2023

Sarah Davies AM has been appointed chair of the Advisory Board to the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), among seven other appointments that reflect the diversity of the sector. She says she is privileged to support developing the sector, which is ‘an economic powerhouse for the country’.

Former Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies AM is among eight new appointments announced to the ACNC Advisory Board. 

Sarah will take on chairing the board part-time, which now has a majority of women and includes people from First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 

“I’m honoured to have been appointed as the Chair of the ACNC Advisory Board, along with my colleagues. Our sector is full of committed, talented and highly skilled and professional leaders – so to be able to support the ACNC Commissioner, her team and the Assistant Minister is a privilege. 

“The formation of a single national regulator for charities and non-profits has been a game changer, and we are all better for it.  The last 10 years have seen significant positive developments, built off the hard work of previous Commissioners and the Advisory Boards who supported them. I’m very much looking forward to working with the Commissioner and her team for more.” 

The ACNC Advisory Board meets quarterly to support and advise the Commissioner, Sue Woodward AM. Appointed by the charities minister, Dr Andrew Leigh, its members have expertise in the charity or not-for-profit (NFP) sector, law, taxation or accounting, and have terms of up to three years. 

“Charities, community organisations, not-for-profits – we matter. We matter because we are an economic powerhouse for the country: we employ more than 10% of Australia’s workforce (note, about 50% of all charities and non-profits registered with the ACNC are totally run by volunteers, so do not employ any staff); we represent about 8% of GDP; and we deploy more than $420 billion in assets for public good. And this is just using ‘traditional’ indicators of value,” said Sarah. 

“Most importantly, we matter because of our collective contribution to everyone’s everyday lives and futures: from arts and culture, to environment, food and shelter, health and wellbeing, education, community building and inclusion, addressing disadvantage, building social justice and opportunity – and so much more. 

“Accordingly, we deserve accessible, clear, fit-for-purpose rules of the game; good, thoughtful design and application of regulation; simple and effective reporting and accountability expectations and standards; a responsive, and supportive and enabling environment that maximises our chances of successfully achieving our purpose. The ACNC provides this ‘scaffolding’ for us – building rigour and transparency and accountability. I’m delighted to be involved.” 

Late last year, the Government sought applications from members of the charity sector to join the ACNC Advisory Board. The office of Dr Leigh said that selection was made after an open, transparent and merit-based process.   

Sue Woodward said: “I am very much looking forward to working with the new board and drawing on their expertise to support the next phase of our development as a regulator. 

“I would like to thank the outgoing board members for their valuable contribution. Their engagement with charities has provided significant support to the ACNC and the sector.” 

The other appointments are: Heather Watson as the part-time Deputy Chair; Anna Bacik, David Crosbie, Ian Hamm, Sara Harrup, Rosina Loria and Dr Myles McGregor-Lowndes OAM.