AISV President’s Message
This year we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of the Victorian Indian Community Charitable Trust (VICCT). The trust was founded on 28th October 1986. Australia India Society of Victoria had encountered several cases of financial hardship amongst members of the Indian community. Furthermore, there was no suitable accommodation for the aged people in the community and the committee foresaw a need for a retirement village for the elderly people in the not too distant future.
The Indian community in Victoria has in the last few years grown from a small closely-knit community into a very large multi-centric society. The second and third generation Indian migrants have increased in number and there is an estimated 450,000 Indian living in Victoria today. As the Indian Community is growing, types and magnitudes of its problems will increase enormously. In order to cater for this need, Australia India Society of Victoria foresaw the need to establish the V.I.C.C. Trust.
Under the provisions of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1936, gifts to the trust of the value of $2.00 and upwards made by a taxpayer in the year of income are fully deductible.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has now taken over the governance of all charities and is the independent national regulator of charities. The ACNC has been set up to:
- Maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the sector through increased accountability and transparency
- Support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector
- Promote the reduction of unnecessary regulatory obligations on the sector.
The ACNC has powers to gather information, and monitor whether charities are meeting their obligations, and formal compliance powers to respond to charities not meeting their obligations (for example, not acting for their charitable purpose).
The first focus of ACNC is on helping charities to meet their obligations through guidance, education and support. Where charities do not respond to this and still fail to meet their obligations, the ACNC may use formal powers to:
- warn charities that they are not meeting their obligations and explain what action the ACNC may take (warnings)
- direct charities to do or not do something (directions)
- make arrangements with charities about what they need to do to meet their obligations - these arrangements can be enforced by a court (enforceable undertakings)
- ask a court to make charities to do or not do something (injunctions)
- suspend or remove a 'responsible person' such as a board or committee member (suspension and removal)
- Disqualify a responsible person (such as a committee or board member, or trustee) who has previously been suspended or removed for 12 months. During that time, the person is not allowed to be a responsible person of any charity (disqualification) and will be listed on the disqualified persons register
- in exceptional circumstances, revoke (cancel) a charity’s registration (which may affect a charity’s eligibility for tax concessions and other government benefits, concessions or exemptions), and
- Apply administrative penalties if a charity makes false or misleading statements or fails to lodge documents (such as reports, notices, returns or statements) on time.
- Where appropriate, ACNC has powers to revoke a charity’s registration or apply administrative penalties against any charity.
As chairman of the VICCT, I have been fulfilling all the legal and mandatory requirements laid down by ACNC since 2014 as a result of which VICCT continues to be functional and registered as a charity. ACNC has closed several thousand charities since 2014 for noncompliance and failure to submit their annual financial statements, reports and notices.
However, I am concerned that VICCT is not fulfilling the purpose for which it was established and as a result has already come under the radar of ACNC.
I am seeking help from the Indian community to help VICCT raise funds for the establishment of a community centre and a retirement village solely for the Indian community. Failure to do so will jeopardise the continuation of the charitable trust. We need to be seen to start collecting funds before the end of this year so that it can be reflected in the trusts returns to ACNC before 31 December 2016.
Dr. Gurdip Aurora