Watchdog says no-one is above the law

An independent watchdog has said no- one should be above the laws when it comes to managing the millions of dollars they raise for the nation’s poor.

The report of the Royal Commission into Charities and the Built Environment was released on Monday.

It was commissioned by the Federal Government and the Australian Human Rights Commission to investigate the “costs and benefits” of providing funds for social good.

The commission found charities and faith groups “do not always provide adequate services”.

“This commission found that there are significant barriers to entry for those who wish to establish a charitable organisation or to be able to do so safely,” the report said.

The findings come as the Commonwealth and the state governments are debating the next steps to tackle the spiralling number of deaths from COVID-19 in Victoria and Queensland.

The inquiry found that some charities were failing to provide timely information about COVID infections, and that in some cases, the public was not given adequate information.

The ABC has learned that the Royal commission has also recommended the establishment of a national coronavirus response plan.

That plan will be released at the end of the month.

The Victorian government’s health minister, Dr Jill Hennessy, said the findings were a disappointment.

“We need to get this right.

We’re not going to have enough time, it’s not just our health minister’s responsibility, it has to be the people’s responsibility,” she said.

“There are a lot of people who will be devastated by this.”

Dr Hennessie said she would work with the State Government to improve the information provided about coronaviruses.

“This is a great day for people who are struggling to support the families of the victims of coronaviral illness,” she told the ABC.

“If we can get this done, this will be a wonderful day.”

Ms Hennessies plan will focus on developing a “community engagement” strategy for people in rural communities.

“I want to do my part to get that plan implemented and to get it in place,” she added.

“What I want to focus on is getting the communities out of the way so we can all work together, be part of a partnership.”

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