The new National Regulatory System for the community housing sector commenced on January 1 2014. As with many other attempts at implementing uniform regulations across Australia, the system is far from consistent.
Only five jurisdictions – New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory – have so far agreed to implement the new National Regulatory System for Community Housing (NRSCH). Even where it has been adopted, things are far from uniform.
One of the aims of the NRSCH is to allow community housing providers operating across state boundaries to comply with the one set of regulations, and to register with only one regulator, but that could still be sometime away.
Victoria remains unwilling to participate in the NRSCH, Tasmania is only partially participating and Western Australia still remains on the sidelines as it evaluates alternative options.
Each participating jurisdiction has a slightly different approach in implementing the national system.
There are differences across each jurisdiction in the timing and in the relationship between government funding and obtaining the new registration.
The Federal Government’s plans to abolish the Australian Charities and Not for Profit Commission (ACNC) has created more uncertainty in the sector. From mid-2013 the rather vague governance requirements set out in the ACNC Act have applied to community housing providers registered as both charities with the ACNC and corporations with ASIC .
The plans to abolish the ACNC, most likely from the middle of 2014 when the new federal Senate commences, could result in those providers being returned to the more stringent Corporations Act standards and regulation by ASIC.
In summary, the Federal Coalition’s support for any kind of national system will be overshadowed by its commitment to cut red tape.
All of these factors lead to a rather confusing regulatory outlook for community housing providers.
So what should you do if you are under this uncertain regulatory cloud?
The best way community housing providers can provide some certainty for themselves is to ensure they have clear and transparent policies, a clear understanding of the risks they face and a program for managing those risks.
If properly implemented, this will give any community housing providers a significant advantage in obtaining funding both government and private. It will also help them to optimise their resources and assets, and improve their ability to actually deliver on their strategic goals.
Given the current and potential changes, providers who rely on paper-based systems are at a significant disadvantage, as their responsiveness and ability to provide dynamic evidence of compliance are severely limited when compared to web-based systems.
CompliSpace has provided support and assistance for the community housing sector for the last three years. We are able to provide a tailored and compliant web-based system which addresses the Evidence Guidelines, including risk registers and automated systems which take the sweat out of remembering critical tasks and ensuring they don’t fall between the cracks.