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A Health Promotion Charity (HPC) is a charitable subtype that can be registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). The principal activity of a HPC is to promote the prevention or the control of diseases in human beings.

As with other charitable subtypes, such as Public Benevolent Institutions, HPCs may be eligible for Deductible Gift Recipient status if they meet the Australian Taxation Office and ACNC’s requirements for endorsement.

We provide a snapshot below of the requirements an organisation may need to satisfy to qualify as a HPC.

1. ACNC’s Requirements For a Charity

Your organisation must meet the following ACNC’s requirements for a charity:

  • Be a not-for-profit entity. Generally speaking, this means you must apply any profit that your organisation makes to your organisation’s charitable purpose (rather than distribute it to your members or directors);
  • Comply with the ACNC’s governance standards and external conduct standards;
  • Have an ABN; and
  • Have purposes that are ‘charitable purposes’ under the Charities Act 2013 (Cth).

2. Organisation Must be an ‘Institution’

There is no legal definition of ‘institution’. As such, its ordinary meaning applies. To establish that your organisation is an ‘institution’, you will need to be able to demonstrate to the ACNC that it (among other things):

  • has a distinct legal structure and entity (such as an incorporated association, company limited by guarantee or trust);
  • has been created to promote a particular charitable purpose;
  • is more than simply a trust or fund that manages trust property or distributes funds to other organisations;
  • runs activities on its own or through partnerships with other organisations to promote its charitable purpose; and
  • is currently operating, or can demonstrate that it has concrete plans to operate in the foreseeable future.

3. The Organisation’s Focus

Your organisation must focus on ‘diseases in human beings’. The ACNC defines ‘diseases’ according to its ordinary meaning, and refers to the following definition in the Oxford Concise Medical Dictionary:

“A disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant, especially one that produces specific symptoms or that affects a specific location and is not simply a direct result of physical injury”.

However, the ACNC specifically excludes animals or plants from its definition of ‘diseases’. If your organisation focuses on animals, it may be able to register as an animal welfare charity instead.

Importantly, the ACNC’s definition focuses on recognised diseases in humans which covers both physical and mental illnesses. This does not, however, cover general health symptoms or conditions unless, if left untreated, these general symptoms or conditions will develop into a recognised disease.

The ACNC will refer to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, the World Health Organisation, and the National Health and Medical Research Council to determine what is or is not a recognised disease.

Where possible, your organisation’s governing documents should identify which diseases you’re focusing on controlling and preventing.

4. The Organisation’s ‘Principal Activity’

For your organisation to be a HPC, your principal activity must be for promoting the prevention or control of diseases in human beings (as discussed in detail further below).

There are many ways that your organisation’s activities can satisfy this definition, including:

  • taking action to reduce the spread of disease(s);
  • conducting research in managing or treating disease(s);
  • conducting activities to manage or treat disease(s); and
  • conducting activities to minimise the suffering caused by disease(s).

Your activities cannot focus on the promotion of broad health and well-being programs — rather, they must relate to the prevention and control of specific disease(s).

As noted previously, you will need to identify in your governing rules which disease(s) your organisation is targeting and why the activities your organisation is undertaking will promote the prevention or control of the disease(s).

Key Takeaways

If your organisation satisfies the following requirements, you may be able to register as a HPC charity with the ACNC:

  • your organisation is a ‘charity’ and an ‘institution’;
  • your organisation’s main activity is aimed at promoting the prevention or control of specific and recognised disease(s) in human beings; and
  • your organisation’s governing rules identifies which disease(s) you are targeting, what your activities are, and how your activities promote the prevention or control of disease(s).

This is a brief snapshot of some points you will need to consider when registering your organisation with the ACNC as a HPC. If you have any questions or need assistance registering as a HPC, check the ACNC website.


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