An epic innings: reflections from outgoing Code of Conduct Committee Specialist Michelle Pearce

Michelle Pearce

29 Jul, 2019

Michelle has served on ACFID’s Code of Conduct Committee (CCC) for 12 years in a number of capacities. As she steps away later this year, Michelle reflects on being part of the Committee, the sector, and the changes she has contributed to over the years.

As Michelle moves to other opportunities, we are recruiting for an Accounting Specialist (appointed position) on the CCC – find the position description here. Be quick, expressions of interest close on August 7.

Developing accounting expertise in the CCC

I joined the CCC as an elected representative in 2005 when I was working for an ACFID member. We knew that expertise in accounting was needed – even though the Accounting Specialist position had yet to be created. Over the next six years in that role, I benefitted immensely from the mentoring given by more senior members – particularly Chris Franks and Sue-Anne Wallace. This support stood me in good stead when I was nominated to return to the committee as the Accounting Specialist, focusing on how finance and risk management sections worked in the broader Code context.

Reinforcing the importance of strong financial reporting

I have seen many changes in the last fourteen years – the Code itself is significantly different! However, it has always had strength in accountability to what we do and who we serve. 

There has been quite a revolution in the financial and risk management sections of the Code (now largely covered by Quality Principle 8). Requirements are now much more holistic and continue to reinforce the importance of strong financial reporting and financial risk management.

It has been so impressive to see the standards in the ACFID Code be acknowledged by the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission, providing opportunities to support and strengthen our relationship with DFAT as they look to strengthen their own guidance.

Working towards significant Code changes

There have been two achievements that I am truly proud of during my tenure. Over ten years ago I worked with the team tasked with expanding the child protection requirements (Commitment 1.4), guidelines, and supporting materials in the Code. Seeing this part of the Code strengthen in the years since has been very exciting, especially where these strong foundations formed the basis of the new requirements for prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse (Commitment 1.5).

Secondly, I am proud to have provided leadership on financial transparency and financial risk management standards. From personal experience in implementing these Code requirements I was able to gain a solid understanding of how these requirements play out in practice. From this I was able to suggest changes to reporting formats, updates to the financial parts of the Code, as well as the development of Guidance for members developing their own financial wrongdoing policy. I’m mindful of striking a balance between appropriate transparency, alignment with regulatory regimes, prudent risk management and pragmatism, but ultimately proud of where we landed.

Looking ahead: a benchmark for good practice

Looking ahead, I am interested to see how some of the government’s increased or adjusted compliance requirements (such as External Conduct Standards, DFAT’s recent changes to fraud guidelines, and potential counter-terrorism guidelines) play out for ACFID members. I suspect that the impact will be felt more in the broader charitable sector.

I suspect the Code will look quite different ten years from now, given the changing nature of development and humanitarian responses. I would hope that the Code remains a relevant and world-leading benchmark of good practice, that remains embedded in the sector and proudly met by membership.

An appreciation of Committee opportunities

Stepping down from the CCC after a long tenure, there are many things I will miss. I have really enjoyed getting to learn about and connect with so many of ACFID’s member organisations and their work.  I have probably reviewed over a thousand annual reports in my time on the Committee – so whilst this is no longer required of my role, it certainly gave me great exposure to the sector and how our ACFID members do the great work that they do. I have loved being able to work with so many talented people on the Committee, at ACFID and with ACFID’s members. I have really valued making a positive impact on the work done in the sector.

Whilst I will miss it, my stepping down from this role provides a great opportunity for someone new to come in and give their perspective and build on the great work that we have done.

  • Michelle Pearce
    Michelle Pearce

    Michelle is the Accounting Specialist on ACFID’s Code of Conduct.  She is the Principal Consultant at Social Business Consulting where she provides finance consulting to charities.  She is also the Global Innovations Commercial Consultant at Movember.  Michelle is a Fellow Chartered Accountant and has spent the last twenty years of her career working and volunteering in the not-for-profit sector.  

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