Country Idealist Profiles

Government Support of Volunteerism in Northern Territory

Following is a press release distributed by “Volunteering Territory”, an organization that supports volunteerism throughout the Northern Territory.  The press release addresses the issue of government involvement and support of volunteerism in the territory.


An Unrecognised Million Dollar Industry
Volunteer organisations in the Northern Territory are lagging behind according to their own peak body.

Volunteering Territory claims there is hardly any recognition by the NT government of an industry which is valued at $183.5 million. It (Volunteering Territory) is looking for respect and recognition for all the volunteers who give their time in the Northern Territory.


James Sadler is from Volunteering Territory Alice Springs,

“Volunteers are vital to the Northern Territory and I hope whatever the colour of the next administration, they will recognise the volunteers, voluntary organisations and their peak body with funding.  At present, the NT government provides no budget for Volunteering Territory and its record of supporting agencies that rely on volunteers is at best piecemeal and at worst insulting.


Volunteering Territory needs the government’s support on issues such as the cost of training for volunteers, the rising cost of fuel for volunteers and the cost of police checks for volunteers.  It is especially difficult at this time for us to reach the volunteers and their organisations in the remote and regional areas of Northern Territory.”


Volunteer Networks For Northern Territory

Following are volunteer-related resources for the Northern Territory:
Volunteering Territory (part of the Volunteering Australia organization)
Promotes volunteerism within Northern Territory, Australia and abroad
Offices: Darwin, Alice Springs
Volunteering SA and NT
Leads, encourages and supports volunteer efforts in South Australia and Northern Territory (as well as abroad) through partnership with volunteers and volunteer involving organisations.
Office: South Australia
Volunteering Australia

Nation-wide initiative, promoting volunteerism within Australia, regarded as “Peak body” for volunteerism in Australia
Offices: Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia
(an initiative of Volunteering Australia)
Nation-wide initiative, promoting volunteerism within Australia
Australian Volunteers International
Program to assist Australians to volunteer internationally
Indigenous Community Volunteers

Program to encourage volunteerism within Australia’s Indigenous Communities
Offices: Queensland, Northern Territory, Western Australia, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory

Volunteerism in the Northern Territory

Who Volunteers in Australia

Following are statistics about volunteers in Australia. This information is not specific to the Northern Territory alone, it was collected in a country-wide survey in 2006.

Who Volunteers?

  • 34% of the adult population (5.4 million people) volunteer.
  • Slightly more women (36%) than men (32%) volunteer.
  • 44% of those aged 35-44 yrs volunteer, the highest participation level of any age group.

Where do they live?

  • Queensland and the ACT have the highest volunteer participation rate of 38%.
  • Volunteering is more common amongst those living in parts of the state outside the capital city, with a 38% participation rate for outside the capital cities v.s. 32% in the cities.

The four most common types of organisation for which people volunteered were:
1.  Sport and physical recreation
2.  Education and training
3.  Community/welfare
4.  Religious groups

The four most common volunteering activities are:
1.  Fundraising: 48%
2.  Preparing and serving food: 31%
3.  Teaching/providing information: 28% and
4.  Administration: 26%

Many volunteers are also involved in caring for others with special needs, beyond the level of care usually called on in family life.

  • 27% of volunteers were carers compared with 17% of those who were not volunteers and
  • 63% provided informal help to other people in the community (a relative in another household, friend, neighbour, work colleague or other person) compared with 42% of non volunteers.

Why do they do it?

  • Almost two thirds of those who became involved in volunteering in the last 10yrs were asked by someone (35%) or did so because they knew someone involved (29%).
  • They were rarely recruited by the media with only 5% doing so as a response to a media report of an advertisement.
  • Over half of volunteers (52%) reported that at least one of their parents had done voluntary work compared to 23% for those whose parents had not volunteered.
  • The top reason for volunteering was ‘Helping others or the community’ 57%, followed by ‘personal satisfaction’ at 44%, and ‘to do something worthwhile’ at 36%.

Other interesting stats:

  • The total annual hours volunteered was 713 million.
  • The median weekly number of hours volunteered was 1.1hrs.
  • The median annual number of hours volunteered was 56hrs.
  • People who volunteer are more likely to have made a donation than those who are not volunteers (85% compared to 72%).

ABS Voluntary Work, Australia Survey (2006)

International Development Through Volunteerism

Following are some Northern Territory organisations that Support International Development through volunteerism:

Volunteering Territory:
Volunteering SA and NT:
Australian Volunteers International:

Government Offices Related to Third Sector

The government offices that register, recognize and oversee non profit activity in the Northern Territory include:


Northern Territory Consumer and Business Affairs:

Northern Territory Department of Justice:

Territory Revenue Management (administration of taxes):

Northern Territory Licensing Commission:

Australian Government, Australian Taxation Office (ATO):

Legal Framework for Third Sector

Laws of Incorporation:

Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations can apply to be incorporated with ORIC under the Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006 (CATSI Act). The laws about incorporation under the CATSI Act were written to meet their needs.


One of the central features of a corporation registered under the CATSI Act is that it is incorporated, which means that it is a distinct legal entity. That legal entity is created when the Registrar of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations processes an application by a group wishing to become incorporated and registers the corporation name on the Register of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander corporations.


Northern Territory Associations Act 2003
Organisations are incorporated and are listed on the Northern Territory Associations Registry.


Corporations Act 2001
Organisations are incorporated, with registration managed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).


Other Related Laws/Acts:
NSW Land Tax Management Act
The NSW Land Tax Management Act exempts Aboriginal Land Councils (NSW, Regional and Local) constituted under the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act from land tax. Given that the NSW land rights scheme is funded from land tax, it would have been illogical to impose the tax on an intended beneficiary of it. An alternative way of gaining exemption is for Aboriginal organisations to be recognised by individual tax collection agencies as a public charity or public benevolent institution. Despite the narrow definition of public benevolent institution, a large number of Aboriginal welfare bodies would qualify under this classification; while it is reasonable to expect that virtually all Aboriginal welfare bodies applying would be exempted under the broad charity definition. 


Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
The Income Tax Assessment Act 1936 provided an exemption from income tax for non‑profit bodies established for community service purposes.  The intention of this amendment was ‘to create a category of exemption for community bodies whose activities are not accepted as being charitable…but which, nevertheless, conduct activities of benefit to the community’.


Recognized Organization Structures

During the non profit registration process, organisations must identify themselves as a company structure or incorporated association.


The Company Structure
Under a company structure, charitable or not-for-profit organisations will generally be registered as public companies that are limited by guarantee. Limited by guarantee means the liability of the company’s members is limited to the amount the members undertake to contribute to the property of the company if it is wound up.


Registration of a company creates a legal entity separate from its members. The company can hold property and can sue and be sued. Companies are registered under the Corporations Act 2001, which is Commonwealth legislation administered by ASIC. A company’s registration is recognised Australia wide. At the very least a public company must:

  • Have at least 3 directors and 1 secretary;

  • Have at least 1 member;

  • Have a registered office address and principal place of business located in Australia;

  • Have its registered office open and accessible to the public;

  • Be internally managed by a Constitution or Replaceable rules;

  • Maintain a register of its members;

  • Keep a record of all directors’ and members’ meeting minutes and resolutions;

  • Appoint a registered company auditor within 1 month of its registration;

  • Keep proper financial records

  • Prepare, have audited and lodge financial statements and reports at the end of every financial year;

  • Send to its members a copy of its financial statements and reports, unless the member has a standing arrangement with the company not to receive them;

  • Hold an Annual General Meeting once every calendar year within 5 months of the end of its financial year;

  • Receive and review an annual company statement and pay an annual review fee. A charitable or not-for-profit company may be eligible for a reduced annual review fee if it meets the criteria under the definition of ‘special purpose company’ in regulation 3(a), (b), (c) or (d) of the Corporations (Review Fees) Regulations 2003; and

  • Lodge notices whenever changes to its officeholders, office addresses, constitution and its name occur within specified timeframes as determined by the Corporations Act 2001. As a general guide please refer to “Legal obligations of a company” on our website at for more information.

A company limited by guarantee may also be registered without the word “Limited” in its name. This is only possible if its constitution:

  • requires the company to pursue charitable purposes only and to apply its income promoting those purposes

  • prohibits the company making distributions to its members and paying fees to its directors; and

  • requires the directors to approve all other payments the company makes to directors.

Incorporated Association
Associations are incorporated under State and Territory Associations Incorporation legislation, which is not administered by Australian Securities Investments Commission (ASIC), but by the various state authorities. An incorporated association is also a legal entity separate from its individual members that can hold property, sue and be sued. Incorporating an association in a State or Territory restricts the organisation to operating in its home jurisdiction. For example, an association incorporated under the Associations Incorporation Act of New South Wales may only carry on business in New South Wales.  The Associations Incorporation Acts provide a simple and more affordable means of creating a separate legal entity for small, community based groups with limited resources. The Associations Incorporation Acts impose less onerous conditions than the Corporations Act 2001 that governs the activities of companies.


As legislation differs in each state or territory, it is difficult to outline detailed requirements for incorporated associations, but basically an incorporated association may need to:

  • Have a committee, responsible for managing the association;

  • Have a public officer and notify any changes in that position;

  • Have a registered office in its state of incorporation;

  • Act in accordance with its objects and rules;

  • Hold an Annual General Meeting once every calendar year;

  • Lodge an Annual Statement every year;

  • Keep proper accounting records and, in some states prepare, have audited and lodge financial statements;

  • Keep minutes of all committee and general meetings.

  • Keep registers of members and all committee members

  • Have a common seal

Within the Northern Territory
To become incorporated, the objects or purposes of an association, society, institution or body must fall within the following:

  • a religious, educational, benevolent or charitable purpose;

  • the purpose of providing medical treatment or attention;

  • the purpose of promoting or encouraging literature, science, art or a cultural activity;

  • the purpose of recreation or amusement; or

  • the purpose of beautifying or improving a community centre

These objects and purposes must be carried on, in whole or in part, in the Northern Territory.



Non Profit Recognition – Official Process

1.  Determine whether the organisation is a “charity”.  To be a charity the organisation must:

  • be an entity (corporation, unincorporated association, trust or partnership etc)

  • be a trust fund or an institution

  • be able to demonstrate from its constituent or governing documents and the organisation’s activities (if applicable) that it is carried on for the public benefit or the relief of poverty

  • be non-profit. This means the organisation is not carried on for the profit or gain of its owners, members or other private people

  • not be
    – carried on for sporting, recreational or social purposes
    – carried on for political, lobbying, promotional or illegal purposes
    – carried on for a commercial purpose to generate surpluses, or
    – a government instrumentality carrying out the ordinary functions of government

  • from the listing that applies to your organisation, have a sole purpose
    – within the characteristics in the ‘Description’
    – the same as, or equivalent to, that of any organisation in the ‘Charities – examples’, and
    – not the same as, and not equivalent to, any in the ‘Non-charities – examples’.

2. Apply for endorsement as an Income Tax Exempt Charity (ITEC).  All charities are not automatically exempt from income tax.

  • Apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN), a single identifier for all business dealings with the tax office and for dealings with other government departments and agencies.

  • Apply for endorsement as a tax concession charity or income tax exempt fund.  

3.  The Australian Taxation Office will process the application and will send written confirmation to the organisation that:

  • your organisation is endorsed as exempt from income tax, or

  • endorsement has been refused.

If your organisation is endorsed, it is exempt from income tax from the date the endorsement starts.

Third Sector Organization Categories

The Australian Government Taxation office has determined the following list of charitable organisation categories.  These apply to all states and territories.

  • Aged persons

  • Animals

  • Cultural

  • Defence and public order

  • Disaster relief

  • Education

  • Environment

  • Health

  • Indigenous people

  • Industry, commerce, agriculture

  • Locality or neighbourhood

  • Moral improvement

  • People with disabilities

  • Poverty

  • Public works and utilities

  • Religion

  • Research

  • Science

  • Unemployment

  • Young people