How to Apply for financial hardship status - non-profits

This Information Sheet explains how non-profit organisations can apply for financial hardship status under the Right to Information Act 2009 (Qld) (RTI Act).

What is financial hardship status?

To ensure non-profit organisations with limited financial resources can apply for documents, the RTI Act allows those organisations to apply to have the processing and access charges waived for access applications made under the RTI Act.[1]

When to make an application for financial hardship status?

An application for financial hardship status should be made before the non-profit organisation makes an access application under the RTI Act.

What are the requirements?

Financial hardship status is available to a non-profit organisation that can demonstrate it is:

  • a non-profit organisation; and
  • in financial hardship.

The Information Commissioner has a wide discretion about the evidence which can be considered when deciding whether an organisation is a non-profit and whether it is in financial hardship.

How can you show you are a non-profit organisation?

A ‘non-profit organisation’ is ‘an organisation that is not carried on for profit or gain of its individual members’[2]. Non-profit organisations applying for financial hardship status must provide documentary evidence that shows:

  • they are an organisation; and
  • that they operate as a non-profit.

An organisation is more than a group of people who decide to do something together. There must be evidence of structure and planning, for example a constitution, constituent documents, or charter, or a certificate of registration or incorporation.

The organisation's non-profit status can be reflected in documents such as a copy of the organisation's constitution or rules of incorporation. In past decisions, the Information Commissioner has referred to an organisation's:

  • objectives, as set out in its Constitution
  • objectives, as published on its authorised website
  • principal activity during the financial year as outlined in its Financial Report; and
  • distribution of funds and assets as set out in its Constitution.

How can you show your organisation is in financial hardship?

Evidence that demonstrates the organisation’s financial position can include:

  • annual audited accounts certified
  • statement of Assets and Liabilities; and/or
  • a tax-exempt certificate.

In making a determination, the Information Commissioner may consider the nature and size of the funding base and any liquid funds. In assessing the nature and size of an organisation’s funding base, the Information Commissioner has previously considered:

  • the organisation's various sources of funding, eg government grants, private donations, and fundraising activities;
  • the discretionary nature of the organisation's funding base; and
  • the organisation’s current cash position.

In considering the financial position of a non-profit organisation, the Information Commissioner has used the Current Ratio, Quick Ratio, and Working Capital financial analysis tools.

How to apply

A non-profit organisation may apply to the Information Commissioner for financial hardship status by making a written application[3] in one of the following ways:

By mail:          PO Box 10143, Adelaide Street, Brisbane Qld 4000

By email:        administration@oic.qld.gov.au

In person:      Level 7, 133 Mary Street, Brisbane Qld.

Decision

There is no set timeframe for the Information Commissioner to make a decision.

After the Information Commissioner has considered all the evidence provided, a prescribed written notice will be issued setting out the decision.

A decision that a non-profit organisation has financial hardship status has effect for one year from the date of the decision.  During this time, the organisation must notify the Information Commissioner of any substantial improvement in the organisation’s financial circumstances as soon as practicable.[4]

Right of review

If the organisation is not satisfied with a decision refusing togrant financial hardship status, the organisation may appeal the decision to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.[5]

  • 1 Section 67 of the RTI Act.
  • 2 Schedule 5 of the RTI Act provides the definition of ‘non-profit organisation’.
  • 3 There is no specific application form that is required to be completed for making an application for financial hardship status.
  • 4 If there is a substantial improvement in the organisation’s financial circumstances, the decision that a non-profit organisation has financial hardship status may be revoked by written notice.
  • 5 For information about the timeframes, rules, and process of appealing the decision visit QCAT’s website at www.qcat.qld.gov.au.

Current as at: April 17, 2018