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

Submitter Download
ACROD Limited 60KB
Action on Disability within Ethnic Communities Incorporated 183KB
Aged & Community Services Association of New South Wales & the Australian Capital Territory 71KB
Aged & Community Services Australia 57KB
Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia 124KB
Alzheimer's Australia 27KB
Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney 132KB
Anglicare Australia 54KB
Animal Welfare League of South Australia 70KB
Animals Australia 27KB
Arnold Bloch Leibler 558KB
Artists Foundation of Western Australia 64KB
Arts Law Centre of Australia 34KB
Association of Independent Schools of Queensland Incorporated 41KB
Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia Incorporated 42KB
Association of Neighbourhood Houses and Learning Centres Incorporated 44KB
Association of Western Australian Art Galleries 42KB
Asylum Seekers Centre Incorporated 54KB
Australasian Fire Authorities Council Incorporated 67KB
Australia Council 315KB
Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) 117KB
Australian Association of Christian Schools 58KB
Australian Breastfeeding Association 48KB
Australian Caption Centre 57KB
Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA) 170KB
Australian Council of National Trusts 38KB
Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) 361KB
Australian Democrats 49KB
Australian Divisions of General Practice Limited 350KB
Australian Federation of AIDS Organisations 46KB
Australian Federation of Homelessness Organisations 132KB
Australian Flying Corps and Royal Australian Air Force Association 139KB
Australian Injecting & Illicit Drug Users League Incorporated 131KB
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies 65KB
Australian Legal Aid Commissions 61KB
Australian Major Performing Arts Group 24KB
Australian Network of Environmental Defender's Offices 148KB
Australian Paralympic Committee 122KB
Australian Pensioners' and Superannuants' League Queensland 86KB
Australian Red Cross 84KB
Australian Relief & Mercy Services Limited 25KB
Australian Reproductive Health Alliance 84KB
Australian Vice Chancellors' Committee 29KB
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation 41KB
Aviation Historical Society of Australia Incorporated 139KB
B'Nai B'Rith Australia/New Zealand 31KB
Bailey, Zelda 121KB
Baptist Community Services 140KB
Baptist World Aid Australia 27KB
Baptistcare 25KB
Benevolent Society 51KB
Berry Street Victoria 54KB
Blind Citizens Australia 28KB
Blue Mountains Community Interagency 15KB
Boffa, G 19KB
Breast Cancer Action Group (New South Wales / Victoria) 65KB
Brotherhood of St Laurence 67KB
Brownsey, David 54KB
Bryan, Michael 151KB
Bunney, Bob 19KB
CAF Australia 36KB
Cancer Council Australia 51KB
Cancer Council New South Wales 56KB
Cancer Council South Australia 38KB
Cancer Council Victoria 72KB
Cancer Voices New South Wales 238KB
Carers Australia 54KB
Caroline Chisholm Centre for Health Ethics Incorporated 26KB
Catholic Church in Australia 172KB
Caxton Legal Centre Incorporated 305KB
Central and Northern Land Councils 256KB
Central Highlands Community Legal Centre Incorporated 64KB
Cerebral Palsy League of Queensland 31KB
Chesterman, Michael 25KB
Child & Family Welfare Association of Australia Incorporated 47KB
Chinese Australian Services Society Co-operative Limited 16KB
Christian Children's Fund 39KB
Christian World Service 94KB
Church and Charitable Private Hospitals Association Limited 69KB
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 34KB
City of Bunbury 92KB
City of Mandurah Sub-Branch Returned and Services League 21KB
City of Melville 19KB
City of Salisbury 91KB
Co-operative Federation of Victoria Limited 123KB
Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association of New South Wales 60KB
Community Child Care 30KB
Community Cultural Development New South Wales 69KB
Community Housing Federation of Australia 53KB
Community Information Strategies Australia Incorporated 28KB
Community Services Committee of the New South Wales Young Lawyers 41KB
Congregation of the Temple Emanuel 36KB
Council of Social Service of New South Wales (NCOSS) 100KB
Country Fire Authority 62KB
Court, John 11KB
Cutler Hughes Harris 62KB
Darwin Young Women's Christian Association 21KB
Davidson, Alexander (Sandy) 26KB
DeafBlind Association of South Australia 19KB
Deafness Association of the Northern Territory Incorporated 103KB
Deafness Forum of Australia 71KB
Deloraine Country Housing Co-operative Society Limited 25KB
Department for Community Development, Western Australia 18KB
Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 22KB
Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts 63KB
Department of Environment and Heritage 86KB
Disability Justice Advocacy 17KB
Edmund OutReach Services Association 92KB
Emil Ford & Co 67KB
Environment Business Australia 111KB
Environment Centre Northern Territory 48KB
Epworth Hospital 114KB
Ernst & Young 61KB
Family Based Care 22KB
Family Life Association of South Australia Incorporated 126KB
Far North Queensland Information Alliance 12KB
Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria) Incorporated 153KB
Federation of Parents and Citizens'Associations of New South Wales 60KB
Fire and Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia 38KB
Fitzroy Legal Service 117KB
FPA Health 56KB
Freehills 177KB
Fundraising Institute — Australia Limited 43KB
Girls' Brigade Australia Incorporated 61KB
Good Shepherd Youth and Family Service 113KB
Group Training Australia 29KB
Guide Dogs New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory 20KB
Hall & Wilcox 18KB
Heritage Council of New South Wales 27KB
History Council of New South Wales 79KB
Holmes, Peter 15KB
Human Rights Council of Australia 130KB
Human Rights Western Australia Incorporated 192KB
Humanist Society of South Australia Incorporated 11KB
Humanist Society of Victoria Incorporated 26KB
Illawarra Legal Centre Incorporated 47KB
Immigrant Women's Speakout Association of New South Wales 28KB
Independent Schools Council of Australia 202KB
Inner City Legal Centre 14KB
Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia 35KB
Institute of Public Affairs 49KB
International Fund for Animal Welfare 78KB
Job Futures 116KB
Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre Incorporated 54KB
Kindergarten Parents Victoria 67KB
le Marchant, Antoinette 12KB
Lee, W.A. (Tony) 18KB
Legacy Co-ordinating Council Incorporated 18KB
Lifeline Australia Incorporated 44KB
Makinson & d'Apice 94KB
Melbourne Citymission 41KB
Melbourne Community Foundation 26KB
Mental Health Association New South Wales Incorporated 47KB
Mental Illness Fellowship of Australia Incorporated 107KB
Missions Interlink 11KB
Moreland City Council 141KB
Morgan, John 217KB
Motor Neurone Disease Association of Victoria Incorporated 39KB
Multicultural Disability Advocacy Association of New South Wales 31KB
Multiple Sclerosis Australia 57KB
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission 145KB
National Anglican Resources Unit 42KB
National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect Incorporated, New South Wales 101KB
National Association of Community Legal Centres 153KB
National Council of the YMCAs of Australia 189KB
National Ethnic Disability Alliance 119KB
National Heart Foundation of Australia 46KB
Nature Conservation Society of South Australia 56KB
Neighbourhood Houses 44KB
New South Wales Combined Community Legal Centres Group 75KB
New South Wales Council of Churches 26KB
New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies 56KB
New South Wales Treasury 69KB
New South Wales Volunteer Rescue Association Incorporated 31KB
Nimbin Neighbourhood & Information Centre Incorporated 27KB
Northern Territory Council of Social Service (NTCOSS) 32KB
O'Connell, Ann (member of Advisory Panel to Board of Taxation) 150KB
Orr, J. Geoff 55KB
Oxfam Community Aid Abroad 66KB
Patterson, K.J. 30KB
Peakcare Queensland 95KB
Peninsula Community Legal Centre Incorporated 177KB
People with Disabilities (Western Australia) Incorporated 40KB
People with Disability Australia Incorporated 27KB
Philanthropy Australia 37KB
Playgroup Association of Queensland 37KB
Presbyterian Church of Australia 17KB
Price, David H 119KB
Purple Economy Watch Incorporated 59KB
Quaker Service Australia 37KB
Queensland Cancer Fund 33KB
Queensland Community Housing Coalition Limited 43KB
Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations 59KB
Queensland Council of Social Service (QCOSS) 77KB
Queensland Institute of Medical Research 67KB
Queensland Meals on Wheels Services Association Incorporated 258KB
Refugee Council of Australia 45KB
Registrar of Aboriginal Corporations 35KB
Reichstein Foundation 104KB
Returned & Services League of Australia Limited 377KB
Royal Blind Society 12KB
Royal Life Saving Society Australia 165KB
RSPCA Australia 23KB
Russell, Ruth 24KB
Salvation Army 83KB
Save the Children 26KB
Save-a-Dog Scheme 41KB
Scouts Australia Western Australian Branch 51KB
Seventh-Day Adventist Church 147KB
Sherman Group Limited 154KB
Shire of Derby/West Kimberley 78KB
Smith Family 48KB
Social Developers' Network and Nurturing Evolutionary Development Foundation 67KB
Society of Australian Genealogists 39KB
South Australian Association of School Parents' Clubs Incorporated 61KB
South West Aboriginal Land and Sea Council 46KB
Southern Communities Advocacy, Legal Education Service Incorporated 39KB
SPARK Resource Centre Incorporated 19KB
St Vincent de Paul Society National Council 43KB
State Heritage Authority 70KB
Surf Life Saving Australia Limited 168KB
Tandara Lodge Community Care Incorporated 76KB
Tasmanian Council of Social Service Incorporated (TasCOSS) 175KB
Tasmanian Government 83KB
Taxation Institute of Australia 56KB
Timber Communities Australia 26KB
Turning Point Alcohol and Drug Centre 14KB
UNICEF Australia 81KB
Union Aid Abroad — APHEDA 34KB
Uniting Healthcare 62KB
UnitingCare Australia 248KB
University of Melbourne Postgraduate Association 20KB
Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) 130KB
Victorian Healthcare Association 20KB
Victorian Urban Fire Brigades' Association Incorporated 37KB
Victorian Women's Refuges & Assoc. Domestic Violence Services Incorporated 166KB
Victorian Women's Trust 23KB
Victory Community Services 88KB
Volunteering Australia 82KB
Volunteering South Australia 58KB
Volunteering Tasmania Incorporated 300KB
Welfare Rights Centre Incorporated 35KB
WESTCARE Incorporated 61KB
Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) 28KB
Western Australian Local Government Association 125KB
Western Institute of Self Help (WISH) Incorporated 29KB
Western Suburbs Legal Service Incorporated 45KB
Willcox, B.A. (Bill) 71KB
Women with Disabilities Australia 80KB
Women's Health New South Wales 114KB
Women's Health Victoria 47KB
World Vision of Australia 34KB
Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) of Australia 130KB
Young Women's Christian Association of Sydney 22KB
Youth Advocacy Centre Incorporated 19KB