Regulating Charity in a Federated State: The Australian Perspective

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The last few decades have witnessed radical reform of charity regulation around the world. Australia has not been untouched and has developed several unique approaches. First, unlike many other federations (such as the US and Canada), Australia relies on a charities commission rather than its federal tax authority to act as the principal regulator, resulting in a very different scope of responsibility and the likelihood of greater interaction with state regulators. Second, unlike many other jurisdictions that have implemented a charities commission (such as England and Wales), the Australian commission is ultimately intended to apply to a broader pool of not-for-profits than just charities, which raises fundamental questions about the ways in which charities differ from the not-for-profit sector more broadly. This paper outlines the historical and political reasons for reform in Australia and the shape of that reform. As the reforms have now achieved broad political and sector support, the chief focus of this paper is on the out-workings of the reforms, with particular attention to the challenges and opportunities posed by Australia’s federal system of government and by the charity commission’s potential to regulate the broader not-for-profit sector.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberUNSP 20180034
Number of pages17
JournalNonprofit Policy Forum
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


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