Restoring Public Trust in Charities – Reforming Governance and Enforcement

Project Summary:

The charitable sector is an essential part of the social fabric and economy in Australia. Public trust in the sector has been damaged by governance failures, exacerbated by the sector’s complex and incoherent governance system. As yet, there has been limited academic consideration or empirical analysis of the effectiveness of the governance and regulatory framework of the sector or concrete reform proposals. This project aims to undertake comparative analysis and empirical research of these aspects and to develop proposals for effective law and policy reform. This is expected to strengthen and maximize the sector’s capacity to contribute to the social and economic life in Australia.

The project has the following specific aims:

  1. To undertake comprehensive investigation of the reasons for the incoherence evident in the current duties of those who govern charitable entities, such as directors, trustees and members of management committees.
  2. To critically analyse wider incoherence in the law relating to directors’ duties in Australia and to recommend solutions for reform.
  3. To examine how charities are governed in other jurisdictions (specifically the United Kingdom and Germany) and to utilize these insights in critical analysis of governance of charities in Australia.
  4. To develop effective options for legislative and policy reform to solve the incoherence evident in the way that office bearers of charitable organisations are governed.
  5. To undertake empirical work to ascertain how charities deal with conflicts in a practical sense and to ascertain how those who govern charities understand their obligations.
  6. To critically evaluate the enforcement powers, enforcement approach and enforcement activity of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC).
  7. To develop options for legislative and policy reforms to improve the effectiveness of regulation and enforcement by the ACNC.

Project Publications:

Empiricial Research

Edited Collection

Rosemary Teele Langford (ed) Governance and Regulation of Charities: International and Comparative Perspectives (Edward Elgar, 2023, forthcoming)

Related Publications

Statutory Governance Duties



Professor Rosemary Teele Langford

Miranda Webster, Research Fellow

Project Details

Type of Grant

ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award



Funds Received