Minister revamps charities regulator board

Posted on 31 Jul 2023

By Greg Thom, journalist, Institute of Community Directors Australia

Andrew Leigh and Sarah Davies
Charities Minister Andrew Leigh and new ACNC Advisory Board Chair, Susan Davies.

Charities Minister Andrew Leigh has unveiled a new gender diverse and multicultural advisory board reflecting a ‘new vision’ for the charity regulator.

Among the eight new members of the Australian Charities and Not For Profits Commission (ACNC) Advisory Board, are Emeritus Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, who is a member of the Institute of Community Directors Australia’s Community Directors Council.

Sarah Davies, CEO of the Allanah and Madeline Foundation and former chief of Philanthropy Australia, was named chair of the board.

Charities Minister Andrew Leigh said the new appointments were chosen from a field of more than 200 nominations from across the sector.

Members have expertise in the charity or not-for-profit sector, the law, taxation, accounting, or as an office holder.

“We believe that having an ACNC Advisory Board which is able to assist the Commissioner is critical for the sector,” Mr Leigh said.

Mr Leigh said the board now comprises a majority of women and includes people from First Nations and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“These appointments reflect the diversity in the not-for-profits (sector) and will ensure Commissioner Sue Woodward is supported as she fulfils a new vision for the ACNC.”

The board’s role is to support and advise the Commissioner and meets quarterly, with general members appointed for a term of up to three years.

The remaining Advisory Board appointments comprises:

  • Heather Watson (deputy chair): Specialist charity lawyer and chair of Uniting NSW/ACT
  • David Crosbie: chief executive of the Community Council for Australia
  • Anna Bacik: Former interim CEO of Community Industry Group, the regional peak body for the community sector in southern NSW, with considerable experience in NFP and charities regulation.
  • Ian Hamm: Holder of a wide range of senior governance positions in Indigenous NFP organisations, including as Chairperson of the First Nations Foundation.
  • Sara Harrup: The former CEO of Foodbank Qld, who has held a range of executive and director roles in charities and NFPs.
  • Rosina Loria: CEO of Sydney Multicultural Community Services, who brings four decades of welfare management and community development experience.

The appointments are the culmination of a process which began late last year when Canberra sought applications from members of the charity sector to join the board.

“These appointments reflect the diversity in the not-for-profits (sector) and will ensure Commissioner Sue Woodward is supported as she fulfils a new vision for the ACNC.”
Charities Minister Andrew Leigh

Mr Crosbie, a previous ACNC Advisory Board member, said he was pleased to have another opportunity to support the work of the ACNC.

“The sector has fought very hard to retain the ACNC,” he said.

“Despite some undermining of its capacity under the previous government, the ACNC can and should play a critical role in strengthening our sector, partly by ensuring bad actors are not allowed to damage our brand, but more importantly, by informing and enabling charities to fulfill their purpose without undue or complicated regulatory requirements.”

Emeritus Professor Myles McGregor-Lowndes, a former director of the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies (ACPNS) based at QUT, is another repeat member, and was first appointed to the ACNC board in 2013.

Sue Woodward
Commissioner Sue Woodward opens proceedings at the ACNC Regulators Day.

He said he was pleased to be re-joining such an important board that provided advice and made recommendations around the delivery of an effective regulatory framework for charities.

"As a board member, I look forward to using my academic experience of 40 years of research about charities and non-profit organisations and practical experience as a practicing lawyer to assist ACNC Commissioner Sue Woodward.

Professor McGregor-Lowndes said the ACNC Advisory Board has, since its inception, has always included a member that is either an ACPNS staff member or graduate, and was delighted that QUT continues to play a leading role in the sector.

Ms Woodward welcomed the appointments, made by Mr Leigh at the ACNC’s annual “regulators day” event in Melbourne.

“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,” Ms Woodward said.

“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.”

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