Governance refers to the way a club is managed. For community, sport and recreation organisations, good club governance can enhance both the viability of a club and the enjoyment of its members. The club’s management committee is responsible for its governance. It is therefore important that the committee understands the principles of good club governance.
Some tips to develop a sound approach to governing your club include:
- United we stand, divided we fall
- Many hands make light work
- Concise is nice
- There is no such thing as a silly question
- Systems are better than sweet heart deals.
Community clubs have an obligation to practice good administration procedures both to ensure accountability and transparency, and to ensure historical records are preserved. Good administration procedures help to create an efficient organisation, providing easy access to essential information for current and future committee members. Some basic actions for good administrative practice include:
- Use a club computer as well as online cloud storage to manage and back up all club documentation to ensure vital information doesn’t get lost and all committee members have access to the information
- Establish a folder which contains a copy of important club documentation such as the constitution, plans, policies, financial details, lease and tenure details, insurance policies, forms and templates
- Regularly back up your data
- Adopt standardised record-keeping procedures for individual committee member roles
- Record all committee and club decisions and actions, primarily through meeting minutes, and keep them in an easily accessible location
- Retain financial records for a minimum of seven years.
Community clubs are obliged to comply with a range of legislation. Amongst others, your club may need to comply with the following:
- Associations Incorporation Act
- Civil Liability Act
- Corporations Law
- Collections Act
- Trade Practices Act.
The Associations Incorporation Act (1981) is commonly applicable to community clubs in Queensland. It contains the following general requirements of incorporated associations:
- Have at least seven members (Section 5)
- Have a nominated postal address (Section 18)
- Have a common seal (Section 21)
- Have the word ‘Incorporated’ or ‘Inc.’ as a part of its name (Section 31)
- Have a registered set of rules (Constitution) (Section 46)
- Prepare financial reports (Section 59)
- Have a management committee (Section 61A)
- Consider public liability insurance (Section 70).
This is not a comprehensive summary of the Act’s requirements. Your committee can review the Act, consult with the Office of Fair Trading, or seek professional advice to ensure your obligations are fulfilled.
There are tax obligations for not for profit organisations similar to that of businesses. The treasurer is the management committee member responsible for ensuring the club complies with all relevant tax requirements. To assist your club, the Australian Tax Office has an interactive website which helps explain your tax requirements. Information regarding the GST is included under Financial Management.
Office of Fair Trading
All incorporated organisations, including not for profit community and sporting clubs, must be registered with and provide annual reports to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT). This is done to protect the management committee from possible litigation and to ensure that clubs in Queensland are run in an equitable manner.
Each year your club will need to provide the OFT with audited or verified financial statements, contact details for the management committee and minutes from the AGM. Not fulfilling these requirements leaves the club open for litigation should there be an incident, as well as disqualifying the club from some grants available through the Queensland Government.
The OFT provides a copy of the model rules, a template which can be adapted by clubs to be used as its constitution.
All incorporated not for profit clubs in Queensland are required by legislation to have a constitution, more recently known as its rules. The rules set out the requirements for the daily running of your club, the rights and obligations of members, how the management committee operates and how meetings will run.
A club’s rules should be reviewed at least every five years, to ensure that they remain relevant due to changing trends, technologies and changes in the club’s situation. The legislation may also be updated from time to time and it is important to ensure these updates are included.
The model rules supplied by the Office of Fair Trading can be used as a template for developing a set of club specific rules. Alternatively, the club could seek professional advice to develop its own rules.
If your club chooses to use the model rules as supplied by OFT, you must use them entirely. The sections of the model rules which your club will need to complete are:
- Your club name
- Your club’s objectives
- The end date of your club’s financial year
- The classes of membership.
Note that if you change anything other than the points above, the rules you are adopting are no longer the model rules, but are referred to as your own rules.
Your club can, at any time, change the rules or adopt the latest version of the model rules. To do this, you must pass a special resolution at a general meeting. Within three months of passing the resolution, the secretary must complete and lodge a rule amendment form with OFT.
Policies and procedures
Policies ensure that there is a standard which is met in all club operations. This allows decisions to be made and rules to be applied fairly and for best practice to be achieved. It also provides surety for members, participants and volunteers and assists in making sure that all legal and legislative requirements are adhered to. Policies are commonly included in a club document called bylaws. Bylaws compliment and are referred to in the club’s constitution.
A club should have policies in place to protect its members. Policies you may consider include:
- Child protection
- Sun protection
- Food handling
- Facility and equipment management
Play by the Rules, an Australian Sports Commission and Human Rights Commission initiative aimed at making sport inclusive, fair and safe can provide you with a range of template policies for implementation in your club.