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Consultation on the Definition of a Charity


On 22 July 2003, the then Treasurer announced the release of exposure draft legislation on the definition of a charity, and asked the Board of Taxation to undertake public consultations on the workability of the legislative definition of a charity proposed in the draft legislation. The Chairman of the Board of Taxation issued a press release welcoming the terms of reference and announcing that the Board would consult with interested charitable organisations on the exposure draft legislation.

Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for the review as announced in by the then Treasurer were as follows:

Consultation by the Board of Taxation on the definition of a charity

  1. The Government has announced that it will codify the existing common law meaning of a charity and expand it to encompass certain child care organisations, self-help bodies and, closed or contemplative religious orders.

    Pursuant to this decision, the Board is to consult on the workability of the legislative definition of a charity proposed in the exposure draft Charities Bill 2003.

  2. In addition, the Board should specifically consult on whether the public benefit test in the Charities Bill 2003 should require the dominant purpose of a charitable entity to be altruistic, as recommended by the Report of the Inquiry into the Definition of Charities and Related Organisations.
  3. The Board should consult primarily with organisations intended to fall within the new definition of a charity.
  4. The Board should consider views put forward and provide its recommendations in a report to the Government by 1 December 2003.


The Board received a total of 267 written submissions as well as input via meetings with key charitable bodies and representative groups, and group discussions in all State and Territory capitals. The Board wishes to thank all respondents for their interest and input. Publicly available submissions are available below for review.

Board Report

The Board’s report, Consultation on the Definition of a Charity: A Report to the Treasurer, was provided to the then Treasurer on 19 December 2003 and released publicly on 11 May 2004 when the then Treasurer announced the Government’s response.

Government Response

In response to the Boards final report the Government stated that “the Government has taken advice from the Board of Taxation that the draft legislation does not achieve the level of clarity and certainty that was intended to be brought to the charitable sector.” The Government announced the common law meaning would continue to apply with specific extensions to be enacted.

The Charities Bill 2003 did not proceed. The Extension of Charitable Purpose Act 2004 enacted the Government’s response by maintaining the common law definition of charity with specific extensions. Royal assent received 30 June 2004.

For further information about this report please contact the Board of Taxation Secretariat on (02) 6263 4366 or at

Submissions received

ACROD Limited60KB
Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities Incorporated183KB
Aged & Community Services Association of New South Wales & the Australian Capital Territory71KB
Aged & Community Services Australia57KB
Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia124KB
Alzheimer's Australia27KB
Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney132KB
Anglicare Australia54KB
Animal Welfare League of South Australia70KB
Animals Australia27KB
Arnold Bloch Leibler558KB
Artists Foundation of Western Australia64KB
Arts Law Centre of Australia34KB
Association of Independent Schools of Queensland Incorporated41KB
Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia Incorporated42KB
Association of Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres Incorporated44KB
Association of Western Australian Art Galleries42KB
Asylum Seekers Centre Incorporated54KB
Australasian Fire Authorities Council Incorporated67KB
Australia Council315KB
Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)117KB
Australian Association of Christian Schools58KB
Australian Breastfeeding Association48KB
Australian Caption Centre57KB
Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA)170KB
Australian Council of National Trusts38KB
Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)361KB
Australian Democrats49KB
Australian Divisions of General Practice Limited350KB
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations46KB
Australian Federation of Homelessness Organisations132KB
Australian Flying Corps and Royal Australian Air Force Association139KB
Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League Incorporated131KB
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies65KB
Australian Legal Aid Commissions61KB
Australian Major Performing Arts Group24KB
Australian Network of Environmental Defender's Offices148KB
Australian Paralympic Committee122KB
Australian Pensioners' and Superannuants' League Queensland86KB
Australian Red Cross84KB
Australian Relief & Mercy Services Limited25KB
Australian Reproductive Health Alliance84KB
Australian Vice Chancellors' Committee29KB
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation41KB
Aviation Historical Society of Australia Incorporated139KB
B'Nai B'Rith Australia/New Zealand31KB
Bailey, Zelda121KB
Baptist Community Services140KB
Baptist World Aid Australia27KB
Benevolent Society51KB
Berry Street Victoria54KB
Blind Citizens Australia28KB
Blue Mountains Community Interagency15KB
Boffa, G19KB
Breast Cancer Action Group (New South Wales / Victoria)65KB
Brotherhood of St Laurence67KB
Brownsey, David54KB
Bryan, Michael151KB
Bunney, Bob19KB
CAF Australia36KB
Cancer Council Australia51KB
Cancer Council New South Wales56KB
Cancer Council South Australia38KB
Cancer Council Victoria72KB
Cancer Voices New South Wales238KB
Carers Australia54KB
Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics Incorporated26KB
Catholic Church in Australia172KB
Caxton Legal Centre Incorporated305KB
Central and Northern Land Councils256KB
Central Highlands Community Legal Centre Incorporated64KB
Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland31KB
Chesterman, Michael25KB
Child & Family Welfare Association of Australia Incorporated47KB
Chinese Australian Services Society Co-operative Limited16KB
Christian Children's Fund39KB
Christian World Service94KB
Church and Charitable Private Hospitals Association Limited69KB
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints34KB
City of Bunbury92KB
City of Mandurah Sub-Branch Returned and Services League21KB
City of Melville19KB
City of Salisbury91KB
Co-operative Federation of Victoria Limited123KB
Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of New South Wales60KB
Community Child Care30KB
Community Cultural Development New South Wales69KB
Community Housing Federation of Australia53KB
Community Information Strategies Australia Incorporated28KB
Community Services Committee of the New South Wales Young Lawyers41KB
Congregation of the Temple Emanuel36KB
Council of Social Service of New South Wales (NCOSS)100KB
Country Fire Authority62KB
Court, John11KB
Cutler Hughes Harris62KB
Darwin Young Women's Christian Association21KB
Davidson, Alexander (Sandy)26KB
DeafBlind Association of South Australia19KB
Deafness Association of the Northern Territory Incorporated103KB
Deafness Forum of Australia71KB
Deloraine Country Housing Co-operative Society Limited25KB
Department for Community Development, Western Australia18KB
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry22KB
Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts63KB
Department of Environment and Heritage86KB
Disability Justice Advocacy17KB
Edmund OutReach Services Association92KB
Emil Ford & Co67KB
Environment Business Australia111KB
Environment Centre Northern Territory48KB
Epworth Hospital114KB
Ernst & Young61KB
Family Based Care22KB
Family Life Association of South Australia Incorporated126KB
Far North Queensland Information Alliance12KB
Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria) Incorporated153KB
Federation of Parents and Citizens'Associations of New South Wales60KB
Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia38KB
Fitzroy Legal Service117KB
FPA Health56KB
Fundraising Institute — Australia Limited43KB
Girls' Brigade Australia Incorporated61KB
Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service113KB
Group Training Australia29KB
Guide Dogs New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory20KB
Hall & Wilcox18KB
Heritage Council of New South Wales27KB
History Council of New South Wales79KB
Holmes, Peter15KB
Human Rights Council of Australia130KB
Human Rights Western Australia Incorporated192KB
Humanist Society of South Australia Incorporated11KB
Humanist Society of Victoria Incorporated26KB
Illawarra Legal Centre Incorporated47KB
Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of New South Wales28KB
Independent Schools Council of Australia202KB
Inner City Legal Centre14KB
Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia35KB
Institute of Public Affairs49KB
International Fund for Animal Welfare78KB
Job Futures116KB
Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre Incorporated54KB
Kindergarten Parents Victoria67KB
le Marchant, Antoinette12KB
Lee, W.A. (Tony)18KB
Legacy Co-ordinating Council Incorporated18KB
Lifeline Australia Incorporated44KB
Makinson & d'Apice94KB
Melbourne Citymission41KB
Melbourne Community Foundation26KB
Mental Health Association New South Wales Incorporated47KB
Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia Incorporated107KB
Missions Interlink11KB
Moreland City Council141KB
Morgan, John217KB
Motor Neurone Disease Association of Victoria Incorporated39KB
Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of New South Wales31KB
Multiple Sclerosis Australia57KB
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission145KB
National Anglican Resources Unit42KB
National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Incorporated, New South Wales101KB
National Association of Community Legal Centres153KB
National Council of the YMCAs of Australia189KB
National Ethnic Disability Alliance119KB
National Heart Foundation of Australia46KB
Nature Conservation Society of South Australia56KB
Neighbourhood Houses44KB
New South Wales Combined Community Legal Centres Group75KB
New South Wales Council of Churches26KB
New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies56KB
New South Wales Treasury69KB
New South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association Incorporated31KB
Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre Incorporated27KB
Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS)32KB
O'Connell, Ann (member of Advisory Panel to Board of Taxation)150KB
Orr, J. Geoff55KB
Oxfam Community Aid Abroad66KB
Patterson, K.J.30KB
Peakcare Queensland95KB
Peninsula Community Legal Centre Incorporated177KB
People with Disabilities (Western Australia) Incorporated40KB
People with Disability Australia Incorporated27KB
Philanthropy Australia37KB
Playgroup Association of Queensland37KB
Presbyterian Church of Australia17KB
Price, David H119KB
Purple Economy Watch Incorporated59KB
Quaker Service Australia37KB
Queensland Cancer Fund33KB
Queensland Community Housing Coalition Limited43KB
Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations59KB
Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS)77KB
Queensland Institute of Medical Research67KB
Queensland Meals on Wheels Services Association Incorporated258KB
Refugee Council of Australia45KB
Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations35KB
Reichstein Foundation104KB
Returned & Services League of Australia Limited377KB
Royal Blind Society12KB
Royal Life Saving Society Australia165KB
RSPCA Australia23KB
Russell, Ruth24KB
Salvation Army83KB
Save the Children26KB
Save-a-Dog Scheme41KB
Scouts Australia Western Australian Branch51KB
Seventh-Day Adventist Church147KB
Sherman Group Limited154KB
Shire of Derby/West Kimberley78KB
Smith Family48KB
Social Developers' Network and Nurturing Evolutionary Development Foundation67KB
Society of Australian Genealogists39KB
South Australian Association of School Parents' Clubs Incorporated61KB
South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council46KB
Southern Communities Advocacy, Legal Education Service Incorporated39KB
SPARK Resource Centre Incorporated19KB
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council43KB
State Heritage Authority70KB
Surf Life Saving Australia Limited168KB
Tandara Lodge Community Care Incorporated76KB
Tasmanian Council of Social Service Incorporated (TasCOSS)175KB
Tasmanian Government83KB
Taxation Institute of Australia56KB
Timber Communities Australia26KB
Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre14KB
UNICEF Australia81KB
Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA34KB
Uniting Healthcare62KB
UnitingCare Australia248KB
University of Melbourne Postgraduate Association20KB
Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS)130KB
Victorian Healthcare Association20KB
Victorian Urban Fire Brigades' Association Incorporated37KB
Victorian Women's Refuges & Assoc. Domestic Violence Services Incorporated166KB
Victorian Women's Trust23KB
Victory Community Services88KB
Volunteering Australia82KB
Volunteering South Australia58KB
Volunteering Tasmania Incorporated300KB
Welfare Rights Centre Incorporated35KB
WESTCARE Incorporated61KB
Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS)28KB
Western Australian Local Government Association125KB
Western Institute of Self Help (WISH) Incorporated29KB
Western Suburbs Legal Service Incorporated45KB
Willcox, B.A. (Bill)71KB
Women with Disabilities Australia80KB
Women's Health New South Wales114KB
Women's Health Victoria47KB
World Vision of Australia34KB
Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Australia130KB
Young Women's Christian Association of Sydney22KB
Youth Advocacy Centre Incorporated19KB

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