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This subject will be taught with the assistance of staff from PilchConnect, a specialist legal service for community organisations.
About the Subject
The legal framework underpinning Australia’s not-for-profit and charity sector has recently been the subject of unprecedented reform.
Until 2013 the meaning of ‘charity’ and ‘charitable purpose’ in Australia had been based on over 400 years of common law. In June 2013, the Federal Government passed the Charities Act 2013 (Cth) introducing a statutory definition of charity for the first time in Australia. This followed soon after the passage of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth) in late 2012—legislation which establishes a new regulatory framework and a national regulator for charities in Australia.
In addition to these significant reforms, there are proposals to update the tax concessions available to the sector. Changes have been made to the various incorporated legal structures for not-for-profits, there has been a rise in the number of social enterprises and new social investment models and a renewed interest in the legal status of unincorporated bodies.
This subject explores the current legal issues faced by Australia’s socially and economically significant not-for-profit sector. It will examine current legislative and case law developments and draw on the knowledge of several expert lawyers in this specialist area.
Principal topics will include:
- The legal and historical context of the not-for-profit environment in Australia, including current trends such as the growing social enterprise sector
- The complexities involved in defining ‘not-for-profit’ and ‘charity’, as well as other sub-types such as public benevolent institutions and health promotion charities
- The range of State and Federal incorporated legal structures available to not-for-profit organisations and the benefits and consequences of advising on a particular structure, including the legal status of unincorporated organisations
- The new regulatory environment for the not-for-profit sector in Australia including the role and powers of the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, the Australian Taxation Office, and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission as well as the various State-based regulators for incorporation, fundraising and taxation law
- A review of the complex regulatory environment in which not-for-profit organisations across Australia operate, including a look at governance issues, taxation, fundraising, health and safety, insurance, employment and workplace relations issues and legal issues in managing volunteers.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject should:
- Have a good understanding of the role and diversity of the not-for-profit sector as a third sector in the Australian economy
- Have a sound understanding of the existing regulatory framework for not-for-profit organisations, particularly their legal structures
- Have an appreciation of unique challenges facing those who govern not-for-profit organisations, compared with for-profit organisations
- Have a good understanding of the regulatory challenges for the not-for-profit sector, including the policy elements for a better regulatory environment that supports both accountability and innovation by the sector.
Last updated: 2 December 2019