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The law reform issues that kept us busy in 2023

13 December 2023

As the year comes to a close, we take a step back to reflect on Not-for-Profit Law’s policy and law reform work in 2023.


We began the year on a high note with the announcement in February that the states and territories had agreed to a set of nationally consistent fundraising principles. Once implemented, the National Fundraising Principles will replace the need for registered charities to comply with seven sets of complex, outdated and inconsistent fundraising laws.  

Since the announcement we have been hard at work with the #FixFundraising coalition both publicly and behind the scenes to ensure that the states and territories deliver on their promise.

It’s been a slow start: none of the states or territories released an implementation plan by the agreed date in July. However, in September Tasmania became the first state to take steps to implement the Principles. We have engaged with the government and opposition to try and ensure that:

  • the Principles are not changed from the version agreed by the states and territories
  • local fundraising laws are repealed or ‘switched off’ so that a charity, no matter where it fundraises, will only need to comply with the Principles, and
  • any regulatory guidance is uniform across all states and territories.

You can read our submission to the Tasmanian government here.

In 2024 we’ll continue to advocate for all states and territories to implement the Principles in this way.

Deductible gift recipient reforms

Not-for-Profit Law has long argued that access to deductible gift recipient (DGR) endorsement is one of the most misunderstood and resource intensive areas of the tax system for not-for-profit organisations. In 2023 we again made our position clear in our submission to Treasury on reforms to DGR registers and our submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into philanthropy.

The Productivity Commission agrees with us: in its draft report released on 30 November, it found that “the DGR system is poorly designed, overly complex and has no coherent policy rationale.” It has issued a draft recommendation that the government extend eligibility for DGR status to most classes of charitable activities. This is welcome news.

The Productivity Commission is seeking feedback on its draft report, with consultation closing on 9 February 2024. The final report is due to government in May 2024.


Our submission to the Productivity Commission’s inquiry into philanthropy highlighted a range of other issues that we see in our day-to-day work helping not-for-profit organisations. In addition to our submission on DGR laws, we argued that inconsistent and overlapping state laws are holding not-for-profits back, forcing them to spend time on compliance instead of their core work. Examples include inconsistent:

  • working with children check laws
  • definitions of ‘charitable purpose’
  • volunteer protections, and
  • fundraising rules.

What’s next?

Our achievements this year remind us that reform is slow and hard won, but change is possible.

In 2024 we will continue to take an evidence-based approach to our advocacy, relying on the information and trends we learn from providing direct services to our not-for-profit clients. As a charity ourselves with limited resources, we will focus on those reforms that will have the most impact for not-for-profits on the ground providing crucial help to those most in need.

You are always welcome to contact us about law reform that would make a difference to your community group.