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Concern Australia, charity review

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This is a charity review, a review for those with an interest in the Australian charity Concern Australia (CA).

CA is a charity but it is not registered with the ACNC[i]. This means that it is not entitled to the ATO’s tax concessions for charities[ii].

The two entities that it controls, Concern Australia Welfare Inc. (CAW) and Concern Australia Ministry Inc. (CAM) are registered as charities though. This review is therefore structured according to their entries on the ACNC Register (here and here).

Its purpose is to supply some information extra to what is there, information that may be helpful in your decision about CA – and its constituent entities[iii].

It is up to you to decide whether any or all of the information presented here is what you need in order to make that decision, and whether you should seek any other information, either from the charity itself or from other sources.

Ministry response

Prior to publishing this review, I sent my observations to the charity, on 4 February 2016, and invited them to comment. They did not respond.

Organisation of this review

  • The first part of this review is organised according to the headings in the Register entries (see above). This is how to use this section of the review:
    1. For each heading in the register entry, first read the information under that heading.
    2. Then check if that heading is included below. (Headings for which there is no comment are not included.)
  • There is then a more detailed comment on the Financial Report.
  • Lastly, there is a section Membership of accountability organisations claimed.

Sources

  • ACNC Register (including links)
  • Google search on the charity’s name.
  • CA website. Social media top right of each webpage. Not on LinkedIn.
  • State government fundraising licence registers.
  • www.glassdoor.com.au

REGISTRATION DETAILS

Entity Subtype

  • A subtype has been selected since 31/12/2103, so maybe this note by the ACNC is a mistake?
  • The subtype for CAM is consistent with sharing the Gospel. Not so with CAW.
  • In each case, the ‘Purposes’ in the constitution parallel the subtype.

CHARITY DETAILS

Legal Name

  • Both CAM and CAW are Victorian registered associations. CA doesn’t even have an ABN.

Other Name(s)

  • For both entities, the name here is a trading name; to continue to operate under this name CA needs to register it as a business name.
  • CAM should have another four names here, and CAW seven.

Charity ABN

  • Tax deductibility: You can claim a tax deduction for your donation to CAW but not to CAM.
  • The CA website does not specify which of the eight (8) donation options belong to CAW.

Charity Address for Service

  • I have no reason to think that this doesn’t work.

Charity Street Address

  • Postal address, from the website: PO Box 48 Preston VIC 3072

Email

  • I have no reason to think that this doesn’t work.

ANNUAL REPORTING

  • AIS 2015
    • Because CA is not registered as a charity, there are only AIS 2015’s available for CAM and CAW.
    • They give basic financial information. However, compared to the financial statements
      • ‘Donations and bequests’ also includes non-government grants.
      • There are no ‘Grants and donations…’ shown in the statements.
  • Financial Report 2015
    • The reports were signed two months after the year end.
    • They were not lodged until 4 ½ months after that, two days before the (extended) deadline.
    • There are no financial statements for CA. See the commentary under Latest financial report – detail, below.

ABOUT THE CHARITY

  • Statement of Faith
  • None found on the website.
  • Each constitution has, as an appendix, the following ‘Statement of Faith’:
    • We believe in the historic Christian doctrines as defined in the Apostles and Nicene Creeds. We believe in the necessity of the practical application of Christian Grace and Love, that is:

Faith without works is dead being along; and

If a rich person sees his/her brother/sister in needs, yet closes his/her heart against his/her brother/sister how can he/she claim he/she loves God?

We accept, in ecumenical balance, a wide range of denominational emphasis and administrative methodologies as valid and believe in co-operative ventures for both the propagation of the truth of the Gospel and relief of suffering in the human family.

Date Established

  • There’s a short history here.

Who the Charity Benefits

  • Vision
    • An Australia where vulnerable young people and children have hope for a successful and positive life.
  • Mission
    • Concern Australia takes responsibility to work in partnership with vulnerable young people and children to create and provide opportunities for them to transform their lives and live life to it’s (sic) full potential.
    •  
  • Activities (What did CA do?)
    • From the Description of charity’s activities and outcomes in the AIS 2015:
      • (CAM) Provided education seminars for primary and secondary schools by applying Christian beliefs and concern to the current historic and social milieu with respect to both personal and corporate human need. Provided chaplaincy and church services to youth justice centre.         Provided basic counselling and support to young people in youth justice centre (sic)
      • (CAW) Provided social, emotional, physical and spiritual support, training programs and assistance which relieve suffering, helplessness and trauma. Developed and managed such programs to benefit the disadvantaged and marginalised members of the community, in particular young offenders and homeless young people by providing skills and support to enhance their self esteem, employment opportunities, satisfaction with life and to maximise their positive contribution to society.
  • Outcomes (What did CA deliver?)
    • CA did not respond to the request in the AIS 2015 for a description of its outcomes.
    • None found on the website.
  • Impact (How were people’s lives improved?)
    • Nothing found.

Size of Charity

  • With a revenue of $3.11 m, CAW easily qualifies in the largest of the ACNC three size categories (‘Large’). CAM is ‘Small’.

Financial Year End

  • For both (registered) charities this means that the next financial report is due by 30 June 2016. Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date.
    • You might therefore need to request more up-to-date information.

WHERE THE CHARITY OPERATES

Operating State(s)[iv]

  • CAW: A fundraising licence is held in this state.
  • CAW doesn’t hold a licence in any of the other six that have a licencing regime.
    • CA calls for donations on its website.
    • Apart from exemptions, whether it needs a fundraising licence in these other states therefore depends on whether those states think that CAW, by calling for donations publicly, are ‘fundraising’ in their State.
  • CAM: A licence is held in Victoria only.
  • CAM doesn’t hold a licence in any of the other four states listed.
    • Whether it needs a licence in these states depends on, apart from exemptions, whether its operations in each includes fundraising.
    • And whether it needs one in the others turns on the same question as for CAM above.
  • CA does not hold a fundraising licence in any of the seven states that have a licencing regime.

CHARITY’S DOCUMENT (SIC)

  • There is no Annual Report/Review available on the ACNC Register for either CAM or CAW.
  • An Annual Report for CA is available on the website.

RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

  • Except for the reversal of Vanessa Lister’s name on CAM’s record, the two charities have the same responsible persons.
  •                                              No. of Australian ‘responsible person’ positions[v]

Terrence Baxter                       2

Vanessa Lister                          1 (and another with her name reversed)

Shane Mahar                            2

Jason McDonald                     2

Tara Reid                                  2

Priscilla Robinson                   2

John Smith                               17

Kathleen Williams                  3

  • Even counting the honorary member, each board is three short of its required size.
  • The constitutions mean that the employees Tucker and Lister should not be on the Board.
  • The website shows the same board except with
    • The addition of Ross Valentine and Bruce Tucker, the CEO
    • The omission of Vanessa Lister.
  • There is no provision in the constitutions for honorary members.
  • The ‘Positions’ do not match those required by the constitutions.

(End of review of the ACNC Register information)

 

Latest financial report – detail

  • CA doesn’t prepare financial statements. There is no financial picture of CA available independently of the statements of CAW and CAM, i.e., no consolidated picture.
  • This is despite the fact that, as is clear from the information above, CA presents to the world as a distinct entity and operation.
  • Given that CA presents a face to the public that combines the two registered charities – in their words, ‘The many components of Concern Australia are all inter-related and inter-dependent’ – and given that the senior management and board are identical, it is difficult to see how it can avoid, in order to present a true and fair view of its affairs to its stakeholders, the need to present consolidated financial statements.
  • Given the significant government grants, an invitation to donors far and wide to donate, and 74 employees (AIS 2015), it is difficult to see how the group is not a reporting entity. This therefore also leads to a requirement to present consolidated statements.

Membership of accountability organisations claimed

  • None claimed.

(End of review)

 

 

[i] Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Australia’s national regulator of charities.

[ii] CA may argue that it is registered by virtue of its name being registered as an ‘Other Name’ with the ACNC for each of the two incorporated associations that it controls. However, this is not a business name, and it can only have one owner anyway.

[iii] For instance, at the time of writing, CA was advertising for both a CEO and board members.

[iv] This is how the ACNC explains ‘operating locations’ in their application guide: ‘You need to give details about where in Australia your organisation conducts (or plans to conduct) its activities.’

[v] Because of the possibility of two (or more) directors having the same name on the register of responsible persons, it is not possible to be definitive about the number of directorships held.

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