Deacons has released its second annual pro bono report, showing that in 2008 more than 40 of the firm's partners and 180 staff assisted more than 110 national, state and local organisations and individuals on a pro bono basis.
Among the year's significant achievements was the work done by Deacons' tax group in assisting one of its key pro bono clients - the International Committee of the Red Cross - obtain public benevolent institution endorsement from the ATO. This enables it to access an income tax exemption as well as a fringe benefits tax exemption, provided certain conditions are met.
The firm also undertook valuable work for the Victorian Women's Housing Association (VWHA), an organisation which provides safe, affordable housing for disadvantaged women in Victoria. The firm was able to help ensure that VWHA's land holdings that house tenants are exempt from land tax, and to minimise land tax payable on properties used to generate funds for charitable purposes.
Other pro bono clients supported over the year included The Wayside Chapel, ACCESS Australia, the Environmental Defenders Office and the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
Releasing the report on Friday 15 May - coinciding with National Pro Bono Day - the firm's chief executive partner, Don Boyd, emphasised that the need in the community for pro bono assistance is even more critical in an economic downturn. "Not-for-profit organisations must juggle the paradox of having to meet many of the same economic challenges as the business sector, while coping with increasing demand for their services in the face of scant and depleting resources for support," he said.