Australia: What is a Health Promotion Charity (HPC)?

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has released an exposure draft Interpretation Statement (Statement) to provide guidance on how the ACNC understands the meaning and scope of the charity sub-type of 'health promotion charity' (HPC) 9 , and has invited feedback from the public and not-forprofit sector.

An HPC is an "institution whose principal activity is to promote the prevention or control of diseases in human beings". The introduction of the HPC category has recognised that there is a subgroup of charities that promote the prevention or control of disease outside the scope of public benevolent institutions. The Statement explains the ACNC's approach on the relevant elements required to obtain registration as an HPC.

Briefly, your organisation may be registered as an HPC if it satisfies all of the following, including that the organisation:

  • meets the eligibility criteria to be registered as a 'charity' under the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Act 2012 (Cth). The ACNC does not consider that the organisation's purpose needs to be the advancement of health in order to qualify;
  • meets the definition of an 'institution', which requires the organisation to be incorporated as a legal structure and to carry out a charitable purpose. Mere trusts or funds will not be institutions. Consideration will be given to factors including structure, size, permanence, recognition and activities;
  • has a main activity (or conducts an activity more than any other activity) that promotes the prevention or control of diseases in human beings, though this does not need to consume the majority of the organisation's time or resources;
    • 'Disease' is understood to be a broad term covering both mental and physical illness, as long as the illness is an identified disease rather than a general health condition or symptom. Exceptions arise where the health condition or symptom (such as obesity), if left untreated, will degenerate into identified disease (such as heart disease or diabetes);
    • 'Promote' is taken to include the growth, development, progress of, encouragement of or fostering of the prevention or control of the disease;
    • 'Prevention or control' of disease includes taking action to reduce the disease's spread, managing and treating disease and activities to alleviate suffering or distress caused by the disease;
    • The organisation does not need to demonstrate success in promoting the prevention or control of disease, or its success in actual prevention or control; and
  • ensures that, if it fundraises for charities, it identifies the charity or disease that it fundraises for.

Examples of HPCs that have been registered by the ACNC include:

  • research and education into treatment and care for people suffering from brain cancer;
  • provision of mental health nurses paediatric staff to rural communities;
  • cancer awareness programs conducted in rural areas;
  • providing sexual health and STI awareness classes for young people; and
  • providing behavioural therapy for serving and retired military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and military-induced stress illness.


9 Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, 'Exposure Draft – Commissioner's Interpretation Statement: Health Promotion Charities' (December 2014) < HTTP://WWW.ACNC.GOV. AU/ACNC/CONTACT_US/PUB_CONSULT_COMMENT/CONSULTATIONHPC/ACNC/EDU/CONSULTATION_ HEALTH.ASPX >

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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