Financial reporting


News update – Focus on timelines & loans, grants & donations

Over the past year the Registered Organisations Commission (the ROC) and the Fair Work Commission have noted issues in reporting units’ financial reports relating to timelines and how loans, grants and donations are reported. The ROC will be focusing closely on these areas this year.


The Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (the RO Act) sets out a particular chronological order in which financial documents and statements must be prepared, audited, provided to members and presented to a meeting. The  summary of financial reporting timeline (PDF 159.7KB) summarises these requirements.

Loans, grants & donations

It is an obligation to prepare and lodge a statement showing the relevant particulars in relation to each loan, grant or donation of an amount exceeding $1000 for a reporting unit during its financial year. Section 237 of the RO Act requires this statement to be lodged with the ROC within 90 days of the end of the reporting unit’s financial year. A sample statement of loans, grants or donations (Word) is available on the Fact sheets, templates & webinars page.

Fact sheets, guidance notes & model statements

Fact sheets, guidance notes and model financial statements relating to financial reporting under the RO Act are available on this website. The website includes a model set of financial statements which have been developed by the ROC. It is not obligatory to use this model but it is a useful resource to ensure compliance with the RO Act, the financial reporting guidelines and the Australian Accounting Standards.

Overview of financial reporting

The RO Act requires organisations and their branches to prepare financial reports.

Financial reports must be prepared in accordance with:

The following presentation slides provide an overview of financial reporting obligations under the RO Act. The presentation was delivered at a ROC information workshop for registered unions and employer associations on 6 March 2018:

Presentation slides (PDF 611.9KB) - from ROC information session on 6 March 2018 at Parramatta RSL Club, NSW


Financial reporting steps

  1. Prepare the financial report
  2. Submit the financial report to audit
  3. Distribute the financial report to members
  4. Present the full report to a meeting
  5. Lodge the full report with the Commission

Each of these steps is explained in further detail in the Fact Sheet - Financial Reporting Processes (PDF 52KB). You can find a summary of the timelines on the Fact Sheet - Summary of Financial Reporting Timelines (PDF 159.7KB).

Frequently asked questions about financial reporting

The ROC has an email subscription service that we use to inform the public and our clients about significant changes. We also use it to solicit feedback and consult on changes to documents such as the reporting guidelines.

The Commissioner's reporting guidelines are currently under review and new guidelines will be released for the 2017-2018 financial year. Information on the reporting guidelines will be shared through our email subscription service.

Yes. The ROC will ensure that each reporting unit has at least one advanced review over each 5 year period. Sometimes a reporting unit may have 2 or more advance reviews during that same time.

As part of the risk-based framework, the ROC will allocate a reporting unit for advanced review based upon a number of factors. While there are many reasons for this, it may be because the reporting unit has repeated mistakes that have already been raised or is under investigation.

The ROC model financial template includes asterisked line items that should not be removed even if they are NIL. This reflects the requirements in the Commissioner's Reporting Guidelines that certain pieces of information must be present in the statements or the notes even if they are NIL.

This allows members and the ROC to ascertain that the reporting unit has considered a particular subject and actively determined that the figure is NIL, rather than merely being silent on the amount. It also ensures that certain types of transaction distinctly appear within the report rather than being subsumed into a more generic line item such as 'other'.


A federally registered organisation is registered under the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009 (RO Act). Upon registration under the RO Act, the organisation obtained legal status as a body corporate (see s.27 of the RO Act).

A state entity, even if it has substantially the same officers, is registered under state legislation and has its own body corporate.

They are two separate legal entities, even though they may replicate each other in structure, policies and actions. They must report separately to the state and federal regulators and the two entities must make sure that each asset and liability is attributed to only one of the entities: they cannot belong to both.

At this point, these remain recommendations to Government that have not been incorporated into legislation. The Government is able to do so at any time. If significant requirements change, the ROC will do its best to inform clients and regular users through our email subscription service and other services.

No reporting unit should be using reduced disclosure requirements. The Commissioner's reporting guidelines mandate that all reporting units must use Tier 1 reporting.

Additionally, the guidelines require that certain specific line items appear in the financial report even if the figure is NIL. This ensures that the reporting unit actively considers each line item and approves the report with that information.


Model financial statements

The ROC has developed a set of model financial statements for registered organisations for the 2016–17 financial year.

There is no requirement for reporting units to use this model, but it may be a useful resource to ensure compliance with the RO Act, the s.253 reporting guidelines and the Australian Accounting Standards.

 2016-17 model financial statements (DOCX 406.3KB)

Financial reporting guidelines

The financial reporting guidelines made by the Commissioner set out specified disclosures that must be made in financial reports.

The guidelines supplement and are additional to the financial reporting provisions of the RO Act, the Regulations and the Australian Accounting Standards.

The s.253 reporting guidelines are the relevant guidelines for most organisations and their branches.

Section 253 reporting guidelines

The s.253 guidelines apply unless a s.270 certificate is in force for the financial year.

The Commissioner has recently updated the Reporting Guidelines to incorporate the new legislative requirements. However, please note that the 4th edition of the reporting guidelines still applies to each financial year of a reporting unit that ends between 30 June 2014 and 30 June 2017, inclusive.

Financial reporting guidelines s.253 (4th edition) (PDF 191.2KB) - these reporting guidelines apply to each financial year of a reporting unit that ends between 30 June 2014 and 30 June 2017, inclusive.

Financial reporting guidelines s.253 (5th edition) (PDF 305.5KB) - these reporting guidelines apply to each financial year of a reporting unit that begins on or after 1 July 2017.

Fact sheet

The ROC has also released a new fact sheet to assist with a new reporting requirement in s.255(2A) of the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009. The fact sheet is available here:

s.253 Financial Reporting Guidelines Fifth Edition - Fact Sheet (PDF 569.2KB)

Section 270 reporting guidelines

The s.270 reporting guidelines (PDF 290.3KB) only apply where a s.270 certificate has been issued for that financial year (a certificate can only be issued to an organisation which is a single reporting unit, and where income was less than $100,000 for that financial year).  For information on how to report under s.270 please contact the ROC at

Our risk-based approach

The Registered Organisations Commission uses a risk-based approach when reviewing financial reports lodged by reporting units. It does so in order to effectively manage the risks arising from the regulatory framework applicable to the financial reporting obligations of registered organisations.

Our risk strategy is to ensure that every reporting unit is subject to an advanced review at least every five years. A reporting unit may have two or more advanced reviews during a five year period. The ROC will allocate a reporting unit for advanced review based on a number of factors including but not limited to circumstances where the reporting unit has not addressed previously raised non-compliance issues or is under investigation.

Our risk-based approach means that we focus our regulatory activity and public resources more efficiently and effectively by ensuring each reporting unit is subject to an advanced review at least once over a five year cycle.

Advanced review

The advanced review involves confirming that financial reports satisfy all requirements set out in the Australian Accounting Standards, the financial reporting guidelines, the RO Act and its regulations. Based on the advanced review, a reporting unit may be required to amend their financial report and provide members and the ROC with a copy of the amended financial report before this can be filed and published on this website.

Financial report checklist - Advanced assessment (DOCX 140.2KB)

Primary review

If a reporting unit is not subject to an advanced review, it will be subject to a primary review. The primary review involves confirming that the financial reporting timelines required under s.253, s.265, s.266 and s.268 of the RO Act have been satisfied, all documents required under s.268 of the RO Act were lodged and that selected disclosure requirements under the Australian Accounting Standards, RO Act and financial reporting guidelines have been complied with. A primary review does not examine all disclosure requirements.

Financial report checklist - Primary assessment (DOCX 56.8KB)


Summary of membership, assets and revenue as reported by registered organisations for the past three years.

  All Unions Employer Associations
2016 2,043,216 1,949,702 93,514
2015 2,053,962 1,959,152 94,810
2014 2,092,300 1,997,837 94,463
2016 $1,977,975,967 $1,219,259,710 $758,716,256
2015 $2,043,203,095 $1,262,015,335 $781,187,761
2014 $1,854,203,181 $1,105,722,636 $748,480,545
2016 $89,459,059 $67,119,746 $22,339,313
2015 $98,747,823 $61,925,485 $36,822,338
2014 $87,568,499 $38,528,032 $46,528,032
2016 $2,642,044,752 $1,670,330,365 $971,714,387
2015 $2,552,543,088 $1,588,784,861 $963,758,227
2014 $2,354,002,427 $1,433,807,552 $920,194,875
2016 $1,577,640,110 $929,864,168 $647,775,942
2015 $1,531,915,143 $900,519,982 $631,395,161
2014 $1,415,007,653 $836,860,172 $578,147,481