Financial reporting

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

The ROC will continue to focus on ensuring that reporting units meet their statutory obligations relating to financial reporting timelines and how loans, grants and donations are reported within the reporting units' financial report.

Guide for members to better understand financial reports

Members of registered organisations can access an information guide to assist them to navigate and understand the financial reports of their own organisation. The guide provides a number of tools so members can analyse the financial statements of their organisation and gain a better understanding of the organisation's financial performance and position.

Click here to view the Guide and Fact Sheets


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 266.8KB) 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 4 May 2018:

Presentation slides (PDF 530.2KB) – from ROC information session on 4 May 2018 at the William Angliss Institute in Melbourne, VIC.

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 251.9KB). You can find a summary of the timelines on the Fact Sheet - Summary of Financial Reporting Timelines (PDF 266.8KB).

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 have been reviewed and the 5th edition Reporting Guidelines were released on 4 May 2018. Click here for the 5th edition reporting guidelines (PDF 298.1KB).

Yes. The ROC applies a risk-based approach to reviewing financial reports. The ROC will consider the level of risk when determining whether to allocate a financial report to an advanced review. This will include consideration of whether the reporting unit has addressed previously raised non-compliance issues and whether the reporting unit is under inquiry or investigation for potential breaches of financial reporting requirements. Depending on the level of risk, a reporting unit's financial report could be subject to advanced review over multiple years.

The ROC model financial statements include asterisked line items that should not be removed even if they are NIL, unless the reporting unit ops to disclose it in an Officer Declaration Statement. This reflects the requirements in the Commissioner's Reporting Guidelines that certain pieces of information must be disclosed even if they are NIL.

Prior to the 5th edition of the Reporting Guidelines the asterisked line items could not be removed. In response to feedback received, the Reporting Guidelines now enable the removal of the asterisked lines as long as the relevant officer makes a declaration that the activities did not occur. Appendix 1 to the 5th edition of the Reporting Guidelines provides a template Officer Declaration Statement.  

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 of Officer Declaration Statement rather than being subsumed into a more generic line item such as 'other'.


A federally registered organisation is registered under the 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.

Does the ROC have templates that take into account any reduced disclosure so that numerous notes to the financials can be removed where they are not applicable?

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 organisation for the 2018-19 financial year. These apply to financial years ending on or after 30 June 2019. The model financial statements for the 2017-18 financial year are also available.

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.


2018–19 model financial statements (DOCX 338KB)


2017–18 model financial statements (DOCX 413.2KB)

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.

Financial reporting guidelines s.253 (5th edition) (PDF 298.1KB) - these reporting guidelines apply to each financial year of a reporting unit that begins on or after 1 July 2017. These reporting guidelines were gazetted in the Federal Register of Legislation on 4 May 2018.


  • Webinar: Understanding financial statements
  • Webinar: Financial Reporting Timelines
  • Fact sheet

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

    Reporting Guidelines - guidance about reporting requirements under subsection 255(2A) (PDF 211.1KB)

    Section 270 reporting guidelines

    The s.270 reporting guidelines (PDF 283.1KB) 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).  These reporting guidelines were gazetted in the Federal Register of Legislation on 4 May 2018. For information on how to report under s.270 please contact the ROC at

    Our risk-based approach

    The ROC 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.

    Every eligible reporting unit has been subject to at least one advanced review over the five year period 2013–2018. From 2018 onwards 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 inquiry or 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 based on the level of associated risk.

    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.


    2019 Financial report checklist – advanced assessment (DOCX 148.4KB)


    2018 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.


    2019 Financial report checklist – primary assessment (DOCX 149.7KB)


    2018 Financial report checklist – primary assessment (DOCX 46.4KB)

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

    All Organisations Unions Employer Associations
    2018 2,044,384 1,944,068 100,316
    2017 2,037,935 1,935,279 102,656
    2016 2,043,216 1,949,702 93,514
    2018 $2,282,316,142 $1,491,647,704 $790,668,438
    2017 $2,301,811,295 $1,474,830,936 $826,980,359
    2016 $1,977,975,966 $1,219,259,710 $758,716,256
    2018 $246,247,031 $196,928,141 $49,318,890
    2017 $112,669,098 $66,102,783 $46,566,315
    2016 $89,459,059 $67,119,746 $22,339,313
    2018 $3,106,025,857 $1,999,268,903 $1,106,756,954
    2017 $2,869,401,963 $1,846,248,339 $1,023,153,624
    2016 $2,642,044,752 $1,670,330,365 $971,714,387
    2018 $1,703,776,547 $977,901,134 $725,875,413
    2017 $1,573,638,168 $877,765,694 $695,872,474
    2016 $1,577,640,110 $929,864,168 $647,775,942