There are more than 38,000 incorporated associations in Victoria. They are clubs or community groups, operating not-for-profit, whose members have decided to give their organisation a formal legal structure. Incorporation of an association is important because it establishes the organisation as a legal entity in its own right, separate from its individual members. This helps protect individual members from the debts and liabilities of the association, and establishes an entity which is considered at law to have a distinct identity that continues, despite changes to its membership.
If your club is not incorporated, it is the individual members and officers, rather than the club, who will be held personally responsible for any debts or other liabilities.
Associations Incorporations Reform Act 2012
The Associations Incorporation Act (1981) is Victorian legislation that provides the ability for clubs to legally incorporate. The Act has recently been reviewed and changed and is now called the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012.Changes to the Act came into effect on the 26th November 2012 and include some important reforms that sporting groups need to be aware of. Some of the key changes to the Act include.
- Codification of duties for office holders
- Association providing Indemnity for office holders
- New tiered financial reporting procedures
- Merger of Public Officer / Secretary roles
- Use of technology to attend committee and general meetings
- Conflicts of interest and committee members
- Clarification of the rights of members
- Disciplinary action against a member
- Grievance procedures
- New matters that must be provided for in an association's rules
Click on the links below to access a copy of the Association Incorporations Reform Act 2012
The following Fact Sheets and Club Summary have been compiled from resources available on the Consumer Affairs Victoria website that will assist sporting organisations to understand some of the changes.
Note that these documents contains comments which are general in nature, they are not intended be relied upon as a substitute for specific professional advice. No responsibility can be accepted by vicsport or the authors for loss arising to any person acting as a result of any material in this document.
New Model Rules (2012)
An important change to the regulations supporting the Act is the inclusion of a new set of model rules (these are available from Consumer Affairs Victoria website. Copy also below). The rules (or constitution as it is referred to in many clubs) set out the rights of members and operating powers of the club. Sporting bodies have either adopted the model rules previously or had their own rules prepared.
There are now new items that each association's rules must address. These include:
- the association's name and purposes
- members’ rights and obligations
- procedures for resignation and cessation of membership
- the process for appointment and termination of the secretary
- preparing and keeping minutes of general and committee meetings
- enabling members to access minutes of general meetings, including financial statements submitted at a general meeting
- right of members’ access (if any is specified in the rules) to committee meeting minutes.
Note that a full listing of the required minimum items that sporting organisations must include in their constitution is listed below.
If your organisation currently uses the model rules, it should review the new model rules to determine if they are suitable for its purposes. The club can make changes and draft its own rules and submit these to CAV however If you do not notify CAV within 12 months (26/11/13) of the new laws commencing the current rules will automatically be replaced with the new model rules.
If your association uses its own rules (that is, not the model rules), these continue to be valid, but once members decide to make any changes, the rules must also address every item required under the new laws. In the meantime, if there is an inconsistency between your association's existing rules and the new Act, the requirements of the new Act apply.
The Registrar of Incorporated Associations has also decided to reduce or waive the fee for an association to alter its rules during a 12-month transitional period. Until 26 November 2013, there will be no fee for associations applying to adopt the new model ruels; and the fee for applying to change an association's rules will be reduced from $156.60 to $75.20.