Two weeks ago, the Coalition Government surprised the not-for-profit sector when it announced in its Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2013 that it would delay the commencement of the Charities Act 2013 (Cth) (the Act) to 1 September 2014.That’s now changed and 1 January 2014 start remains.

The change in date was seen as the modus operandi of the new Government’s approach towards the not-for-profit sector with respect to bipartisan cooperation and regulation. 

However, on the last sitting day of the year, the Senate ran out of time to debate and vote on the Government’s proposed amendment.  This was largely because the Government’s proposal was opposed and criticised by other Senate members. 

As a result, the Act will commence as initially planned on 1 January 2014.

This has been welcomed by the not-for-profit sector as the commencement of the statutory meaning of charity will instil confidence and certainty for not-for-profit organisations.  The statutory definition will not only offer clarity, but also modernize the definition of charitable purpose to cover and protect vital areas such as advocacy, reconciliation, human rights, and the environment.