On the trail of how a church with its own law works

One of the pieces of information that the legislators made compulsory for the ACNC Register was ‘the entity’s governing rules’. Almost always a constitution, rules or trust deed.

I need this document to complete a review of a charity.

For the Presbyterian Church of Australia Aust Presbyterian World Mission Committee – yes, that’s its name – the Register showed me this:

Not the usual title of a governing document: first, they are not usually made especially for the ACNC, and second, it is usually a single document not ‘documents’ plural.

The ‘Description’ here is because the charity is a particular type of religious charity. So twice special.

Presbyterian Church of Australia Aust Presbyterian World Mission Committee is a charity whose ‘governing documents are a reference to the legislation that creates [its] organization, or to church or canon law.’ In this case, the ACNC says that they only need to provide a link to the laws, not a copy of them.

So that’s what’s in the .pdf document above:

The link leads, not to the documents, but to the website of Presbyterian Church of Australia in the State of New South Wales:

So one searches for the documents. (At least this charity has a search function; too many don’t). Don’t make the mistake that I made, though, quickly read the .pdf and search for ‘The Code’. The result is a discouragement to go further:

Luckily I rolled below the fold and found something much closer to what the ACNC want you to find:

A search on ‘Constituting Documents’ takes you straight there.

‘Constituting Documents of the PCNSW’ has been put in one document for you:

You might ask, then, why couldn’t this document be lodged on the Register? Was it in the mind of the legislators that sometimes the user will be sent on an internet trail in order to get basic information about how the charity works? Ignoring that, if there is a good reason why the document can’t be lodged on the Register, how about giving a link to it instead?

Now to the task of finding what I want in the 481 pages.

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