Organisations registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (the RO Act) are membership associations made up of employees or employers. For 2016 these organisations reported they had over two million members, controlled more than $2.6 billion in total assets and had combined annual revenue in the order of $1.5 billion. The RO Act is designed to ensure organisations are representative of, and accountable to, their members. In 2017 the Registered Organisations Commission (the ROC) was established to improve the governance and financial transparency of organisations. We aim to assist organisations to comply with their regulatory obligations and we will, where appropriate, enforce compliance.
As the inaugural Registered Organisations Commissioner, I am honoured to lead the ROC.
I’m pleased with the progress and achievements we have made in the short time we have been operating. We delivered on our core responsibilities from day one—1 May 2017.
Highlights from our first two months of operation include:
- provision of extensive information to organisations and their office holders about their regulatory obligations
- education campaigns to raise awareness about the new statutory requirements
- receipt of 274 regulatory matters transferred from the FWC
- registering 187 auditors
- assessing eight potentially protected whistleblower disclosures
- progressing 24 referrals made by the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption
- commencing three formal inquiries and one formal investigation into organisations and their officers
- enforcing provisions of the RO Act by progressing three civil litigation proceedings transferred from the FWC.
The smooth transition of work from the FWC and successful establishment of the ROC is largely due to the commitment, collaboration and expertise of FWC and FWO staff, assisted by the Department of Employment. I thank the people in the many and varied areas involved.
The year ahead
We are committed to improving the governance and financial transparency of registered organisations and promoting compliance with the RO Act by registered organisations, their branches and their officers. Our enhanced investigative and information-gathering powers, including the registration of auditors and provision of improved protections for whistleblowers, will assist us to do this.
Our vision is to be valued by the community for the way we regulate and foster the efficient management and accountability of registered organisations, and in 2017–18 our three-fold strategy will support our efforts to achieve this. We will:
- educate registered organisations about financial and other reporting responsibilities
- encourage democratic control and improved financial and disclosure compliance practices
- undertake inquiries and investigations into suspected contraventions, and where appropriate enforce compliance.
Registered Organisations Commissioner