10th ANNIVERSARY OF THE ACNC
Canberra via Video Link
FRIDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2022
Today is an auspicious day. Not only are we celebrating the 50th anniversary of the election of the Whitlam Government, but we also mark the tenth anniversary of Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission. The ACNC was born of a vision that charities needed a one stop shop. That just as businesses had ASIC, so too, there should be a single regulator for the charities and not-for-profit sector.
I particularly want to thank Deborah Jenkins for your work stepping in as interim commissioner, Anna Longley, who has also served in the role, and to acknowledge Sue Woodward, who will soon take up the reins running the Charities Commission.
What does a ten-year anniversary mean? Well, as it happens, my youngest son is ten years old, so I have a bit of a sense as to what he does now that he couldn't do a decade ago. He's become more thoughtful, he's become wiser, he's become funnier. He is, in short, making a much greater contribution to the world than he did a decade ago.
So too, it is for the ACNC - you play a powerful role in being a point of contact for charities. Not a soft touch regulator, but a regulator with a listening ear, a willingness to engage and to provide data to the community as to the health of the charitable sector.
This is a time at which community is under strain in Australia. Over the course of the last generation, we've seen a decline in the share of Australians who are volunteering, a drop in the share who are donating to charity.
We've seen a fall in the share of Australians participating in team sport. We've seen a decline in the share of Australians who attend religious services regularly. We've even seen a drop in the share of Australians who know their neighbours and the average number we've seen a decline in the average number of friends that the typical Australian has.
And that's why building community is so important to me and why it's why it's such a passion for the government. I don't think there's anyone who's ever wanted to be the Assistant Minister for Charities as much as me. I've had this portfolio for our nine years in opposition. I love the opportunity to engage with charities, to hear what they're working on and to talk to them about their vision for a better connected Australia.
I'm excited, too, to see what the charities commission does in the decade to come. Again, I look at my ten year old son and think about what he might do in the next ten years. I reckon he'll better connect up with the world. He'll become more social and more gregarious. And so, too, I'd love to see the charities commission engaging even more with states and territories to remove that unnecessary regulation.
I reckon that my ten year old is going to be spreading his wings and engaging in ambitious projects. Likewise, the work that the charities commission has done to bring together data on the sector ought to help spur a national conversation about how great it is to give to charities; about the ‘helper’s high’; the joy of starting a new organisation; the pleasure of volunteering with a community group.
Finally, I'm confident that over the next ten years, my ten year old son will do unexpected things that will delight, surprise and put a smile on all of our faces. I imagine that's true, too, of the charities commission. As a member of the Albanese government, I have a very strong view in the role of the public service, a commitment to frank and fearless advice. I want to hear your ideas, I want you to surface them to your managers, and I want to make sure that we're getting from the public service not just implementation, but also innovation. So, I encourage you to be part of that journey as we shape the ACNC over the decade to come.
Thank you so much for the opportunity to beam in to you today. Happy 10th birthday to the ACNC.