The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade is currently
reviewing the Overseas Aid Gift Deduction Scheme Guidelines and
Processes. It has taken written submissions and held round table
discussions in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
Findings and Summary of Findings can be found at this link.
Feedback so far from many non government organisations working
to improve life for people living in third world countries is that
they find the regime imposed on them onerous and ineffective.
Common themes emerging from the discussion to date include
The process is disproportionate to the risk it is designed to
prevent: that there is too much red tape: with the advent of the
Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission (ACNC) and the
ongoing roles of the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), there are
suggestions that both of those regulators could take a more
relevant role in the Scheme.
The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)
Code of Conduct could be part of the endorsement process, rather
than an additional standard which overseas aid DGR's seek
Mentors could be engaged to train overseas aid charities to
higher governance standards.
"Relief" guidelines do not presently take into
account long term humanitarian situations. Relief for communities
must still have priority over that for individuals. Interestingly
there has been a debate over whether "educational
expenses" should remain classified as "welfare",
bearing in mind that education can increase a person's
participation in economic and social life and build a nation's
skills base. Interesting discussions have also related to
orphanages and that distribution of aid not be prejudiced on the
basis of religion.
Child protection standards and implementation of child
protection practices have general support.
Better guidance is required on counter terrorism criteria.
Some interesting broader reform issues included:
one approval body to oversee all DGR endorsements and DGR
endorsement based on charity registration
all DGR categories relating to overseas aid and development to
considering whether PBI's working overseas should be
subject to the same requirements as OAGDS
track record and how it is measured if a charity has partnered
allowing Australian funders to give directly to organisations
overseas (cross border philanthropy)
allowing volunteers to claim tax deductions for out of pocket
expenses such as air fares, accommodation and other in country
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