Learning from others’ mistakes Part 3 – RSL NSW

Former New South Wales RSL president Don Rowe has been referred to police by the NSW State Government and significant reforms are also proposed, potentially affecting all Australian charities and other not-for-profit organisations.

The NSW State Government last week released the 705-page report (WARNING – 48Mb file) by former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin after establishing the Public Inquiry in May 2017.

Two of the 29 recommendations made by the Inquiry which may impact all Australian charities, and potentially other not-for-profit organisations, are as follows:

14.7 It is recommended that NSW Fair Trading liaise with the ACNC and any
other entity, including the Fundraising Institute of Australia, to develop clear
guidance for charitable fundraising organisations in respect of political
donations and attendance at political functions.
14.8 It is recommended that consideration be given to the introduction of a single,
unified Australian statutory regime for the regulation of charitable fundraising.

The ACNC also issued a media release on 19 February announcing that:

The national charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC), is working with a number of RSL charities to rectify serious governance failures and restore confidence.

Last week the Bergin Inquiry, headed by former NSW Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin SC, published its report into RSL NSW, RSL WBI (known as DefenceCare), and RSL LifeCare.

While the NSW Government Inquiry focussed primarily on NSW entities, the ACNC has also issued a directive to RSL National, indicating that they too must address a range of governance concerns.  This 3-page summary notes that the matter arose in the following circumstances:

“The ACNC commenced an investigation of RSL National’s compliance with the ACNC Act and the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Regulation 2013 (Cth) (ACNC Regulation). The scope of the investigation included a review of gifts made by RSL National to the outgoing RSL National President in June 2016. The items gifted to the former National President were a vehicle at an approximate value of $27,434 and a set of books at a purchase price of $3,600.”

Call to action

As for the CPA and Oxfam stories, if your Board or Audit and Risk Committee would like a briefing on the governance implications of the RSL developments (or a bundled briefing covering all three cases), please contact me on 0419 347 599 or email me at garry.pearson@polgovpro.com.au to arrange this.