Assuming that you, or the core team of people you are working with, have decided to establish an incorporated association, there are now a few things you need to do to get ready. The main three are:
- decide on a name;
- prepare a constitution; and
- decide who will be the first people to sit on your association's management committee and who will be the first 'public officer' (or 'secretary').
Choosing a name
We have a whole article on naming your organisation that applies to all organisations. To give you an idea though, your name:
- will need to include the word 'Incorporated' (or the abbreviation 'Inc') at the end of the name;
- can't be a name already used by another company or organisation; and
- can't be offensive or include expletives;
A constitution is a document that contains the high level rules about how your organisation will be governed. It is therefore important to get this document right.
This is not to say that you can't change your constitution down the track, you certainly can.
However, changing a constitution does require a special resolution, so it is useful to get it as good as it can be from the beginning.
The good news is that each Australian state and territory laws include a model constitution that is ready for use and, because the regulator created it, pretty well means that it will comply with your local state or territory associations laws.
The not so good news is that these model constitutions are, by their very nature, general. This means that they will only be partly what you need – a good start, but not the end of the story! They are not tailored to your requirements.
We strongly recommend that if you use the model constitution, you use it as the starting point only.
There is an entire part of our starting a charity course dedicated to the governance of an organisation and its first constitution which in itself is worth the price of the course, even if we do say so ourselves.
If you would like expert legal advice and guidance to give you one-on-one support to prepare your constitution, then please contact us. It would be our pleasure to help. We love constitutions!
Work out who will form your first management committee
While the minimum number of management committee members required to incorporate an association may vary from state to state, the point is that putting some thought and planning into who will be the first management committee members is a very worthwhile exercise.
Who will be most suitable for these roles will depend on a number of factors, including:
- what is your association intending to do?
- who is willing to be nominated for, and to fulfill, this role?
- how long are the initial office holders expected to remain in their position?
- how do the proposed people as a group complement each other based on the initial needs of the association?
Assessing who is most suitable also requires an understanding of what the role, responsibilities, duties and expectations of a management committee member actually are.
You can learn more about the duties of management committee members in our article coming soon!
We know that it can sometimes be difficult to understand what your duties are and that debates about governance can get rather heated at times.
If you would like expert guidance and advice on a duties or governance question or situation, please do get in touch. Our experienced governance lawyers are ready and raring to help.
Work out who your first public officer will be
You will also need to decide who will be the first public officer of your new association. Depending on which state you are incorporating in, the public officer might be referred to as the 'secretary'.
Regardless of the title, one of the key roles of the 'public officer' or 'secretary' is to be the interface between the local government regulator and your association. The public officer (or secretary) will be the key point of contact for your association and must agree to give their details (such as name and address) to the regulator for this purpose.
Broadly speaking, the public officer (or secretary) must also:
- be over 18 years of age;
- live in Australia (or in some states, live in the state within which you are to be incorporated); and
- consent in writing to be the association's public officer.