November 27, 2017

Silencing Australians: The result of the Federal Government’s proposed donations ban

Australian charities are united in opposing the Federal Government’s attempt to undermine the benefits many Australians receive from philanthropy and to silence their voices.

Among a range of worrying impacts, the proposed legislation would limit funding for life-saving medical research; access to education; the voice and rights of Indigenous Australians; and the ability to sustain and protect our shared natural environment.


Unless common sense prevails, legislation targeting foreign donations to political parties will ban charities that receive international philanthropy from being able to advocate for Australians; for those in need in our region; and on global issues which Australians care about.

There is a categorical difference between donations to political parties and philanthropy for charitable purposes and it would damage the functioning of our democracy if the parliament fails to recognise that.


The public is behind charities


The Federal Government’s proposed ban on charities receiving overseas donations is out of step with public opinion.


Australians overwhelmingly (76%) support charities having a public voice on issues they were established to address and a majority (55%) believe that imposing restrictions on the ability of charities to advocate would result in a silencing of Australians and undermining our democratic principles.


International philanthropy supports Australian giving

International philanthropy to Australia boosts the impact of domestic giving in alleviating hardship, gives voice to those who may otherwise be ignored, and contributes to a brighter future for many Australians.

This is a time in which we should be working together to maximise international philanthropy in Australia, not restrict or ban it.

Advocacy is vital for addressing the causes of social and environmental challenges

Advocacy by charities is often the only way people can be heard and hold politicians to account for decisions that impact their lives.

It is a legitimate and legal activity, crucial in tackling the causes of social and environmental challenges, rather than just their symptoms. Advocacy has made Australia a better and fairer place to live.

Together, Australian charities call on the parliament to exempt registered charities from this legislation; to preserve international philanthropy for Australia, and; to protect charities’ ability to stand up for the interests of communities and the issues they care about.


Signatories to the Statement

Australian Conservation Foundation

Australian Council for International Development

Australian Council of Social Service

Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network

Bush Heritage Australia

Campaign for Australian Aid

CARE Australia

Caritas Australia

Community Council for Australia

Fred Hollows Foundation

Human Rights Law Centre

Lock The Gate


Oxfam Australia

Pew Charitable Trusts

Philanthropy Australia

RESULTS Australia

Save the Children Australia

TEAR Australia

World Vision Australia

WWF Australia



About Polling Results

Polling, conducted by Essential Research, was conducted online from 17-20 November 2017, with a sample size of 1,025 nationally.

Question / Statement Total Agree Total Disagree Don’t Know
Charities should have a public voice on the issues they have been established to address. 76% 10% 14%
Restricting advocacy by charities risks silencing the voice of Australian communities, and hindering the operation of our democracy. 55% 20% 25%


Further Information

Charities and International Philanthropy – a sector position paper by Philanthropy Australia, the Community Council for Australia and the Australian Council for International Development.