Familyvoice Australia Inc, charity review

The charity's Annual Information Statement current at the time of this review has since been superseded.  Please contact me if you are facing a significant decision with this charity and an updated review would be of help.

This is a review, for donors, of the Australian charity Familyvoice Australia Inc (FV).

It is structured according to the charity’s entry on the ACNC[i]Register, and its purpose is to supply some information extra to what is there, information that may be helpful in your giving decision.

It is up to you to decide whether any or all of the information presented here is what you need in order to make that decision, and whether you should seek any other information, either from the charity itself or from other sources.

Ministry response

Prior to publishing this review, I sent my observations to the charity, on 11 September 2015, and invited them to comment. Although the National Director, Dr David Phillips, acknowledged the email, neither comments nor a request for an extension of the publication date were received by that date.

Organisation of this review

  • The first part of this review is organised according to the headings in the register entry. This is how to use this section of the review:
      1. For each heading in the register entry, first read the information under that heading.
      2. Then check if that heading is included below. (Headings for which there is no comment are not included.)
  • There is then a more detailed comment on the Financial Report.
  • Lastly, there is a section Membership of accountability organisations claimed.

Sources

  • ACNC Register (including links)
  • Google search on the charity’s names (see Charity Details, below).
  • FV website.   And social media sites – see bottom right hand here. (Not on LinkedIn.)
  • State government fundraising licence registers.
  • www.glassdoor.comEntity Subtype

REGISTRATION DETAILS

  • The second is a type consistent with sharing the Gospel.
  • However, although the governing document indeed provides that FV’s objects ‘are to advance the Christian faith in Australia’, sharing the Gospel as a specific method is not included as in the list of methods for bringing this about [clause 3].

CHARITY DETAILS

Legal Name

  • This name is slightly (but for searching, often influentially so), different from where it is recorded elsewhere:
    • FV governing document, FV website and Facebook page, and ASIC’s register: ‘FamilyVoice…’, with no space.
    • FV Independent Audit Report (see below), Notes to and forming part of the financial statements (see below), and ABN register: ‘Family Voice…’, with a space.
    • Just to confuse things further, the ABN register records that the name was changed, presumably by FV, from the first one above to the second on 25 October 2014.
    • The National Library of Australia records that FV is known by both names.
    • Who’s right?
  • FV is a South Australian incorporated association.
    • Because of the size of its revenue, it is a ‘prescribed association’. This affects its reporting obligations.
  • It began life as the well-known The Festival of Light (see Date Established below).

Other Name(s)

  • Missing are the four business names:

Charity ABN

  • Tax deductibility: You cannot claim a tax deduction for a donation to FV.

Charity Street Address

  • No separate postal address on the website.

Email

  • Blank. From the website: same as the Charity Address for Service, above.

Phone

Website

  • Blank. Try www.fava.org.au.

ANNUAL REPORTING

  • AIS 2014
    • This is FV’s compulsory Annual Information Statement 2014 (AIS 2014).
    • It gives basic financial information.
      • If you think that this is sufficient for you then you should note that
        • The financial statements are not general purpose financial statements as stated here, but special purpose statements.
        • Although the deficit is the same as that in the Financial Report (see below), four of the other six figures in the Income Statement are not.
  • Financial Report 2014
    • Because there is no word at all from the directors in the Financial Report, we don’t know when they approved, if indeed they did, the Report.
    • The Profit & Loss is dated 7 July 2015, and auditor signed on 21 August 2014, so the Report was completed less than two months after the year end. However, it was not lodged on the ACNC Register for another four+ months, a week after the six months normally allowed for lodgement.
    • The coverage of finances in this review is left until the financial report proper (below).

ABOUT THE CHARITY

Date Established

  • According to the facts tendered by FV in a recent court case, the beginning was in 1972, not 1976.
  • Read the FV story in David Phillips’ book “Courage In A Hostile World – the story of Family Voice Australia[ii].

Who the Charity Benefits

  • Statement of Faith
    • See the second last heading here.
      • This is the same as the one in the governing document (and to which potential members have to subscribe).
  • Vision
      • None found via a site search.
      • From Description of charity’s activities and outcomes in the AIS 2014:Our vision is to see strong families at the heart of a healthy society, where marriage is honoured, human life is respected, families can flourish, Australia’s Christian heritage is valued, and fundamental freedoms are enjoyed.
      • There’s a slightly different one on page 17 of the Annual Report (see Charity’s Document (sic), below:We seek to honour God’s name and advance His kingdom. We promote God’s wise ways for a healthy society where marriage is honoured, human life is respected, families can flourish and fundamental freedoms are enjoyed.
  • Mission
    • Here. (FamilyVoice Australia is a Christian Ministry to our nation, promoting true family values in the light of the wisdom of God.)
  • Activities (What did FV do?)
    • Unfortunately this is all FV says in its AIS 2014: “FamilyVoice is a national Christian voice – promoting true family values for the benefit of all Australians.”
    • However, there is much information on activities on the website.
    • And also sprinkled throughout the Annual Report, including a list of ‘Submissions and Briefing Papers’ on page 15.
  • Outcomes (What did FV deliver?)
    • Unfortunately in the AIS 2014, in response to the request to describe activities and outcomes, there are only activities (see above).
    • There are three outcomes described on page 6 of the Annual Report.
  • Impact (How were people’s lives improved?)
    • Nothing found

Financial Year End

  • This means that the next financial report is due by 31 December 2015. Before that the financial information on the Register will be up to 18 months out-of-date.

WHERE THE CHARITY OPERATES

Operating State(s)[iii]

  • FV doesn’t have a licence to fundraise in any of the seven states that have a licensing regime.

Size of Charity

  • ‘Medium’ charities have revenue of $999,999 or less. Even excluding the ‘Invest>Fund’, for some reason reported separately, and looking at only last year, FV’s revenue easily exceeds $999,999. It should therefore be classified as a Large charity.

CHARITY’S DOCUMENT (SIC)

  • There is no Annual Report/Review available on the ACNC Register.
  • One is available under Publication/Report on the website, but not to the public – you’ll need to register (which means giving your contacts details, thereby being added to their mailing list).

RESPONSIBLE PERSONS

No. of Australian charity directorships

Neil FEARIS                                     1

Charles NEWINGTON                    1

David PHILLIPS                              14 (see footnote iv)

Philip SMITH                                   5

Frank STOOTMAN                          2

Stuart ROBINSON                           5

Harry PAIN                                       2

Kym GOLDING                                3

Peter DOWNIE                                2[iv]

  • ‘Position’
    • In the Annual Report, David Phillips is described as the ‘National President’. There is no such position in the governing document.
      • His position on the register is ‘Director’.
      • FV has, consistent with the governing document, a Chairperson. It is unusual to have both a President and a Chairperson.
    • The governing document provides that there must be a Secretary. If this person is a member of the Board, his or her ‘Position’ on the Register should be ‘Secretary’.
    • The document also provides that there may be a Treasurer. If there is one, and he or she is a member of the Board, ‘Position’ should read ‘Treasurer’.
  • Neither the website nor the Annual Report even lists the board members.

 

(End of review of the ACNC Register information)

 

Latest financial report – detail

  • FV is required by its enabling legislation to prepare accounts that ‘present fairly’ its results and its position. These accounts don’t.
  • Generally accepted accounting principles require FV to present a complete set of financial statements. FV hasn’t, omitting two statements.
  • Generally accepted accounting principles require FV to present one set of financial statements. FV presents two, one for its ‘Invest>Fund’ and another for the rest of its activities.
    • There is no record, either on the FV website, or externally, of such a fund.
    • There is no explanation in the Notes to the accounts for such a split.
  • FV has not explained why it has chosen to present a ‘special purpose financial report’ rather than general purpose financial statements.
  • The Notes to the accounts fall far short of those necessary to explain the financial statements and the Committee’s choices leading to what is (and isn’t) presented.
  • In Note 1 to the accounts, FV says that its accounting policies have been chosen ‘to fulfil the Board’s financial reporting requirements under the constitution’. The constitution requires ‘proper financial records to be kept’ and financial administration ‘conducted in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles’. The FV accounts are not consistent with these requirements.
  • FV is required to attach to the accounts a certificate by the Committee. No such certificate is attached.

An independent opinion on the financial statements: the Independent Audit Report (first page of the Financial Report)

  • The auditor, being a CPA, is required to comply with the Australian Auditing Standards when reporting. He hasn’t.
    • He doesn’t mention that he audited a special purpose financial report. (It is not only the accounting requirements that differ between the two types of reports.)
    • According to his report, he has not audited the Notes to the accounts.
    • He has given an incomplete statement of the responsibility of the Committee.
    • He has given an incomplete and inaccurate description of his responsibility.
    • He includes language that was superseded in 2006.
    • He disclaims responsibility for assessing the Committee’s choice of accounting policies, yet this should be part of his audit procedures.
    • He omits the required ‘Emphasis of Matter’ paragraph.

Membership of accountability organisations claimed

  • None claimed.

 

(End of review)

 

[i] Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, Australia’s national regulator of charities.

[ii] Here’s a review.  (The book confirms 1972 as the founding year.)

[iii] This is how the ACNC explains ‘operating locations’ in their application guide: ‘You need to give details about where in Australia your organisation conducts (or plans to conduct) its activities.’

[iv] Because of the possibility of two (or more) directors having the same name on the register of responsible persons, it is not possible to be definitive about the number of directorships held.

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