The External Conduct Standards are a set of standards that govern how a registered charity must manage its activities and resources outside Australia. This new legislation came into effect on 23rd July.
The Standards require charities to take reasonable steps to ensure appropriate standards of behaviour, governance and oversight when undertaking activities or providing funding overseas.
Registered charities that operate overseas have to comply with the External Conduct Standards.
The External Conduct Standards apply to all registered charities, including Basic Religious Charities, when they are:
- operating outside Australia, or
- working with a third party operating outside Australia
The Standards may apply to a charity even if it only undertakes minor activities, or sends only a small amount of money or resources outside Australia.
Activities that may be considered operating outside Australia include:
- sending money overseas
- sending resources overseas
- sending staff, volunteers, members or beneficiaries overseas
- conducting activities or working overseas
- buying goods and services from overseas suppliers (including online purchases)
- working with individuals or organisations located overseas.
They are intended to promote transparency and provide confidence that resources sent, or services provided, overseas reach legitimate beneficiaries and are used for legitimate charitable purposes. The Standards also seek to protect vulnerable people overseas.
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The Executive Officer of the Church is developing guidelines for LCA congregations, parishes and entities to provide additional support to entities to meet this new legal requirement. These will be disseminated as soon as they are ready.