ACNC has interpreted the provision of housing within the charity
advancing health; and
advancing social or public welfare; and
any other purpose beneficial to the general public that may
reasonably be regarded as analogous to or within the spirit of any
of the purposes mentioned under the other charity sub-type
In its interpretation ACNC draws on the Charities Act,
(s. 14) which defines the "purpose of advancing
health" to include "the purpose of preventing and
relieving sickness, disease or human suffering"; and
(s.15) which defines "purpose of advancing social or
public welfare" to include,
"the relief of poverty, distress or disadvantage of
individuals or families
the caring for the aged or disabled individuals; and
caring, supporting and protecting children and young
The definition of "poverty" in this context picks up
the definition from Ballarat Trustees Executors and Agency Co v
Federal Commission of Taxation (1950) 80 CLR 350,385, of
"an inability to provide from within one's own resources a
modest standard of living in the Australian community".
In its assessment of a housing provider, ACNC will take into
account several types of living circumstances which the provider
Housing types have been identified as "hostels, crisis
accommodation, shared accommodation, units or houses, either
temporary or permanent".
Commercial activities may be part of the overall object of
providing charitable housing.
If providers are using government schemes, to provide the
housing, and on a wind up surplus is required to be returned to a
state or territory under law or by contract, then ACNC will
interpret the provider as a charity, provided the governing
documents stipulate assets will be returned, or distributed to a
charity with similar charitable purposes.
The NRAS (National Rental Affordability Scheme) is identified as
an example of a charitable housing scheme which charges rent at 20%
below the market value, includes a large component of government
funding, but does not require the return of any of the housing
assets on the expiry of the scheme. On the ACNC test, NRAS would
not qualify as charitable.
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