Charity Law and Charities: Responding to Crises

On Thursday 30 June 2020, CLAANZ presented the webinar Charity Law and Charities: Responding to Crises. The years 2019 to 2020 have seen a series of crises, from bushfires in Australia and mosque shootings in New Zealand to the COVID-19 global pandemic. These crises pose challenges for charities and for charity law. This webinar engages with some of those key challenges through a series of short presentations arranged in two parts: (1) Crises and Fundraising: The Questions Not Asked in the Celeste Barber/New South Wales Rural Fire Service Case; (2) Operational Challenges in Crises.

Questions not asked in the NSW Rural Fire Service Case 
  • What was the role of the attorney-general? (Jon Cheung, Prolegis)
  • What impact did the role of intermediaries have? (Krystian Seibert, Swinburne)
  • What role was played by donor expectations? (Myles McGregor-Lowndes, QUT)
  • How should charities respond to calls for accountability to multiple stakeholders? (Tara Eaton and Melissa Goode, Red Cross)
  • Observations from the judicial perspective (The Hon Marilyn Warren AC QC, former Chief Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court & Judge in residence at Melbourne Law School)
Operational Challenges in Crises

View the webinar program here. A Case Explainer of the Celeste Barber case has been prepared and can be accessed here. View recordings of the webinar below.

Charity Law and Charities: 

Responding to Crises





Speaker: Prof Matthew Harding, Chair, CLAANZ 


Questions not asked in the NSW Rural Fire Service Case:





What was the role of the attorney-general?

Speaker: Jon Cheung, Prolegis Lawyers





What impact did the role of intermediaries have?

Speaker: Krystian Seibert, Swinburne





What role was played by donor expectations? 

Speaker: Myles McGregor-Lowndes, QUT





How should charities respond to calls for accountability 

to multiple stakeholders?

Speakers: Tara Eaton and Melissa Goode, Red Cross




Observations from the judicial perspective

Speaker: The Hon Marilyn Warren AC QC, former Chief Justice of the Victorian Supreme Court & Judge in residence at Melbourne Law School




Q&A: Questions not asked in the NSW Rural Fire Service Case

Facilitator: Seak-King Huang, Prolegis Lawyers


Operational Challenges in Crises





Organisational change

Speaker: Sari Baird, Oxfam




Governance and solvency

Speaker: Robyn Erksine, Brook Bird

NFPs sustainability during and beyond COVID-19 – resources
Like all businesses, Australian not-for-profits and charities will have been affected by COVID-19. Some NFPs may have had to cease operations entirely and others may have increased operations to reach those in need. View our resources to help with recording and reporting, and how the NFP sector can remain sustainable. View Resources Now



Accessing retained assets

Speaker: Natalie Silver, University of Sydney




Speaker: David Murphy, Jackson McDonald



Q&A: Operational Challenges in Crises

Facilitator: Ian Murray, UWA





Speaker: Prof Matthew Harding, Chair, CLAANZ



About the speakers

Jon Cheung is a Partner at Prolegis Lawyers which is a firm dedicated to dedicated to advising charities, not-for-profit organisations, philanthropists and social enterprises. Jon specialises in protecting the interests of charities and not-for-profits through his work in the areas of governance, operational and contractual arrangements, and dispute resolution. He currently serves as board chair of an international aid and development organisation and is also a board member of Philanthropy Australia.

Krystian Seibert is a researcher, educator and advocate focused on public policy, philanthropy and the not-for-profit sector. He is an Industry Fellow at the Centre for Social Impact at Swinburne University of Technology, and is also a policy advisor to Philanthropy Australia, the peak body for philanthropy. He was a frequent media commentator on the topic of giving in response to last summer’s bushfire crisis.

Myles McGregor-Lowndes is an Emeritus Professor at QUT’s School of Business Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies. He is also a consultant to Paxton-Hall Lawyers in Brisbane

Melissa Goode has been a lawyer with Australian Red Cross for the last 6 years and in that time has provided advice across a wide range of Red Cross programs. Prior to Red Cross, Melissa worked in-house for one of Australia’s largest retailers and in Oxford in publishing. Melissa began her career at Allens Linklaters and is a graduate of Melbourne University.

Tara Eaton is Head of Legal at the Australian Red Cross and advises on a wide range of legal and governance issues affecting the organisation and Board. Prior to the Red Cross, Tara led Legal and Compliance teams in the innovative pharmaceutical sector, worked in private practice at Clayton Utz and Minter Ellison and spent time with the World Health Organisation in Hanoi. Tara has held other roles within the organisations she has worked for, including Executive member, Privacy Officer, Statutory Director and Company Secretary. Tara currently sits on the board of another charity.

The Hon Marilyn Warren AC QC, is the former Chief Justice of Victoria (2003-2017) and Lieutenant Governor of Victoria (2006-2017) and previously was a Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria (1998-2003). She was the Chair of many bodies and committees including the Courts Council of Victoria (2014-2017), the Judicial College of Victoria (2003-2017), the Victorian Council of Legal Education (2003-2014), the Victoria Law Foundation (2003-2011) and the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (2004-2009). Marilyn is presently Judge in Residence at the Melbourne Law School. 

Sari Baird (Oxfam) is the General Counsel of Oxfam Australia, a charity that tackles global poverty. Sari has also volunteered in the sector and served on a number of charity boards.

Robyn Erskine (Brooke Bird) has been a Partner at Brooke Bird for over 25 years, is a Director of CPA Australia and was one of the first women in Australia to be appointed as a Registered Liquidator and a Registered Trustee. In her role as an Insolvency Practitioner, she has been engaged to undertake a wide range of assignments both formal and informal across diverse industries. She has prepared specialist reports and provided expert evidence to the Courts and various stakeholders including financiers and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) in relation to breaches of directors’ duties, breaches of the Corporations Act and the Bankruptcy Act and has provided expert evidence on determining a company’s solvency.

Natalie Silver (University of Sydney) is a lecturer at the University of Sydney Law School. Her research focuses on not-for-profit law and regulation. She previously worked as an attorney in the New York office of Kirkland & Ellis and as a philanthropic advisor at the Jewish Funders Network and at JP Morgan Private Bank, both in New York. Natalie has a PhD from the Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies at QUT and an LLM from Harvard Law School.

David Murphy (Jackson McDonald) is a partner in Jackson McDonald’s tax and corporate teams. David provides advice to various charities and not-for-profit entities and has acted on a number of mergers and acquisitions in the not-for-profit sector.