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Archived: The Australian Navigators Ltd, charity review (superseded)

Care:  At least some of the information about this charity is no longer current.  Use the ‘Search charity names’ box to see if there is a later review.  If the latest review has a message like this, you are welcome to make your case for an updated review via email to ted@businessbythebook.com.au.

This is a review, for donors, of the Australian charity The Australian Navigators Ltd (AN).

It is structured according to the charity’s entry on the ACNC[i] Register, and its purpose is to supply some information extra to what is there, information that may be helpful in your giving decision.

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, on 23 July 2015, to the charity and invited their response. On 21 August 2015 Grant Dibden, the National Director emailed some comments. These have, where relevant, been included in the review.

Organisation of this review

  • The first part of this review is organised according to the headings in the register entry. 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.



  • An Entity Subtype that is consistent with sharing the Gospel.


Other Name(s)

  • There’s a name missing here: Solid Rock Ministries, a business name.
    • They also have two trading names: The Australian Navigators Ltd and AusNav Publications. The first is now the name of the charity and second appears to be a defunct publisher.

Charity ABN

  • Tax deductibility: You cannot claim a tax deduction for a donation to AN.

Charity Street Address

  • The postal address, from the website: PO Box 6210 Baulkham Hills NSW 2153


  • Blank. From the website: “Please fill in the following form to contact us.”


  • Basic financial information is shown in the Annual Information Statement 2014 (AIS 2014). If this information is sufficient for you then you should note that
  • none of the figures in the Income Statement other than the totals and the surplus match the Financial Report.
  • it is not a general purpose report that is supplied, but a special purpose one.
  • The coverage of finances in this review is left until the financial report proper (below).


  • Vision
    • None given
    • The vision for the global organisation, at the end of the first page here: “Our goal is to see workers for Jesus’ kingdom next door to everywhere.”
  • Mission
    • None given
    • The closest for the global organisation is what they call their ‘calling’.
  • Activities (What did AN do?)
    • From the AIS 2014: We raise up generations of disciples of Jesus Christ to advance the gospel. We are active in all areas of community including the student, business and military ministry.
      • A description of each of these areas is given on the website under the menu item ‘Ministries’.
    • Compare these activities to both what your local evangelical church does, and what it should be doing.
  • Outcomes (What was delivered?)
    • Unfortunately in the AIS 2014, in response to the request to describe activities and outcomes, there are only activities (see above).
    • There are no outcomes given on the website.
      • AN comment: “The outcomes we seek are people coming to faith and growing in their Christlikeness.  These are dependent on the Holy Spirit and we do not publish on them.”
  • Impacts: (How were people’s lives improved?)
    • The Navigators (US), an organisation with the same vision, mission, and activities, have not submitted an impact report to Guidestar. (One of the questions answered in this is ‘How do you know that you are making progress?’)
      • AN comment: “They are an independent organisation with whom, and many others, we are in a worldwide partnership. Therefore, this comment does not appear relevant to us.”

Size of Charity

  • With revenue of $1.4 m, AN comfortably exceeds the qualification for the top size of charity ($1 m).

Financial Year End

  • This means that the next financial report is due by 31 December 2015. Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date.


  • Operating State(s)[ii]
    • AN doesn’t hold fundraising licences in the states shown – or in the other two that have a licensing regime.
      • AN comment: “The Board is reviewing this.”
  • Operates in (Countries)
    • The countries listed matches the location of the overseas staff shown on the Donations page of the website, and in the Staff List.


  • Financial Report
    • This report can be opened either from this section or from within AIS 2014 under Annual Reporting (above).
    • The Financial Report wasn’t completed until four months after the year end – but was lodged only 4 days later. (This was still well within the six month period normally allowed.)
    • There is no Annual Report/Review available on the ACNC Register, nor is one offered on, or by invitation from, the website.


  • To see all a director’s positions in Australia, search here.

No. of Australian directorships

Jeff BUCKPITT                                               1[iii]

Taryn DONOHUE                                          1

Mark MORRISON                                          4[iv]

Michael SWAN                                                2

Ian WATTS                                                       3[v]

Russell SKELETON                                        1

Janice LAI                                                         1

Grant DIBDEN                                         1

  • Four of the directors need not be members of the company. Nowhere are we told who these are.
  • Michael Johnson has left the board since the date of the Financial Report.

(End of review of the ACNC Register information)

Latest financial report – detail

Directors’ Report (page 1 of the Financial Report)

  • Just before the signature block you will see an unusual inclusion: a statement that this is a reissued report as a result of wanting ‘to be more transparent’.
  • No Directors’ Report is required by the ACNC. Nor the constitution. Perhaps the inclusion of this report is the result of a board decision.
  • If so, there are a few omissions:
  • Only two directors have special responsibilities?
  • The key performance measures are not identified.
  • The usual paragraph about the members’ guarantee is included as Note 14. However, that Note is missing the total liability. (And it’s not ‘Capital’ that the members have.)
    • AN comment: “We have 47 members.”

What was earned, what was consumed during the year – the Statement of Profit or Loss and Comprehensive Income (page 5 of the Financial Report)

  • There were no gains or losses on sales within the $488K investment portfolio during the year?
  • Revenue $1.4 m (including Note 2)
    • 99% of this is Donations Received. There is no breakup of this figure, so no match is possible to the 33 options under the Donate button on the website.
      • None of the descriptions next to 27 requests for funds for people on the website say how the money will be used.
    • In the Staff List (‘Meet the Overseas Staff’, here), there are 16 staff additional to the ones to whom we are invite to donate on the website. There is no explanation for why these don’t qualify for the Donate button.
      • AN comment: “They are volunteer staff.
    • The Home page gives yet another figure: 80.
      • AN comment: “This figure includes associate staff”
    • We are not told whether the money donated to a person (or couple) goes to AN to offset the benefits AN gives the person, or is just handed on to them.
    • There is no explanation why, when a sizeable investment portfolio is held, and Note 13 confirms that dividends are received, there aren’t any in revenue. (Both years.)
    • Note 1 on Revenue does not match the sources of revenue.
  • Change in bookstore inventory $107
    • There is no explanation for including this item, one component of Cost of sales, when Cost of Sales is shown in Note 3.
  • Employee benefits expense $1.1 m
    • This represents 92% of total expenses.
    • In October 2014 AN had 20 full time and 7 part-time employees [AIS 2014].
  • Depreciation and amortisation expenses $zero
    • This is a consequence of being in the somewhat unusual situation of having no property, plant and equipment (see below).
  • Bad and doubtful debts expense $11 (including Note 3)
    • There is no explanation for the item ‘Foreign currency translation Gain/losses’.
  • Fundraising expense $zero
    • There is no explanation for why this is zero.
    • Or how ‘fundraising’ is defined.

What’s left at the end of the year – Statement of Financial Position (page 6 of the Financial Report)

  • Cash $284,828 (including Note 5)
    • As acknowledged in the Note this also includes ‘cash equivalents’.
    • But there is no explanation of the term in Note 1.
    • Ignore the items ‘Short-term deposits’ and ‘Bank overdrafts’ (they shouldn’t be included).
  • Receivables $ 6K (including Note 6)
    • There is no explanation of the unusual term ‘term debtors’.
    • There is no Note in Note 1 explaining the presence of a ‘Provision for impairment of debtors’ with a zero balance for both years.
    • ‘Total receivables’ should be ‘Trade receivables’.
  • Inventories $15K (including Note 7)
    • There is no explanation for the positive balance in ‘Provision for Stock Obsolescence’.
    • Note 1 does not explain the policy.
    • Note 1 implies that AN manufactures inventories.
  • Other $1K (including Note 8)
    • There is no accrued interest and dividends (see next asset).
  • Investments $488K (including Note 9)
    • For a partial explanation why a $1.4 m ministry would hold $773K in cash, cash equivalents and investments, see Note 13.
    • There is no policy note (Note 1) explaining the accounting for this portfolio.
  • Property, plant and equipment $zero (including Note 10)
    • It is unusual for a ministry of this size to have none of these assets.
      • And especially for two years in a row.
      • And without explanation.
  • Creditors & Borrowings $14K (including Note 11)
    • This should be split between ‘Trade and other payables’ and ‘Financial liabilities’.
    • There is no explanation for the negative balance for ‘Sundry payables and accrued expenses’.
  • Provisions $zero (including Note 12)
    • The amounts in the Note do not match the Statement.
      • They do, however, match the next item in the Statement.
      • Assuming that it is the Statement that is correct, not the Notes, there is no explanation for the unusual result of no employee entitlements.
  • Ministry/FB Reserves $77K
    • There is no Note explaining the terms or the amount
      • AN comment:  Note 12 explains this amount.

How the wealth of the charity has changed – Statement of Changes in Equity (page 7 of the Financial Report)

  • There are three names that do not match the other Statements: ‘Profit’ (Surplus) ‘Retained Earnings’ (Accumulated income), and ‘Designated Funds’ (Reserves).
  • For what the funds are ‘designated’ for, see Note 13.
  • Designated funds are different from restricted funds. It appears that AN has none of the latter.

Essential information to go with the figures: Notes to Financial Statements (page 9 of the Financial Report)

  • Note 1 Summary of Significant Accounting Policies

Special purpose statements

  • The directors say the company is a non-reporting entity because ‘there are no users who are dependent on its general purpose financial statements’. Without asking all current and potential users, how could they possibly know?
  • They are in effect saying that anybody who is interested in this company has the power to contact the company and request a report tailored to their particular needs.
  • The result of the decision is that the accounts don’t comply with the Australian Accounting Standards, and can disclose considerably less than that required for a general purpose report, a report designed for those people who are dependent on the charity’s report for the information they need.
  • You can compare the directors’ decision to this advice from the ACNC: If people use and rely on your charity’s financial statements to help them make decisions (for example, about how to spend money) then your charity is most likely a reporting entity.
  • Although not clear from this, the directors should also consider prospective users.
    • AN’s comment: “The Board disagrees with your opinion…based on professional audit advice and using the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia’s Enhancing Not for Profit Annual and Financial Reporting guidance when producing a financial report. The Board will reconsider this issue as part of producing this year’s Financial Report.
  • Missing Notes (in addition to the ones mentioned above)
    • Commitments
    • Contingent liabilities
    • New and revised Standards
    • Accounting Standards issue but not yet effective
    • Impairment testing
    • Significant management judgements
    • Current and non-current classification
    • Impairment of non-financial assets
    • Trade and other payables
    • Fair value measurement

An independent opinion on the financial statements: Independent Auditors (sic) Report (page 16 of the Financial Report)

  • This is a ‘clean’ opinion. Read here and here to draw the right conclusions from this.
  • This report was signed on 18 October 2014. However, it has been changed since, presumably as a consequence of the reissue of the accounts (see Directors’ Report’, above).

Membership of accountability organisations claimed

  • Missions Interlink (bottom right here).
    • The membership list of Missions Interlink is not publicly available.


(End of review)




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

[ii] 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.’

[iii] 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.

[iv] AN comment: “Incorrect – this should be 2”. Reviewer response: This is what the Register says. For the solution, see the previous footnote.

[v] AN comment: “Incorrect – this should be 1”. This is what the Register says. For the solution, see the previous footnote.