A community organisation may be a sporting or social club, a lobby group, a welfare organisation, a self-support group, a day care centre or any similar body. When a group of people agree to act together as a club, group, or organisation, they form an association.
To carry out the functions for which they are formed, associations have rules about how they will operate. These rules can be unwritten but are usually written down formally as a constitution or rules. Draft rules for community organisations are available from the head offices of organisations that encourage new groups to set up, or from Consumer and Business Services (see below).
The constitution of an association is like a contract between the members setting out their agreement about how they will act together within the group. However, even if an association has a constitution, it does not exist at law unless it is incorporated.
The law that regulates many non-commercial incorporated associations is the Associations Incorporation Act 1985 (SA) . The Act is administered by the Corporate Affairs Commission, which is part of Consumer and Business Services (CBS).
CBS has produced an example of rules for an incorporated association. Before deciding which rules to use, it is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure that the proposed rules accurately reflect the way your organisation wishes to operate. There are many possible management structures and it is important that what is stated in an association's rules reflects the way its members want to operate. Similarly, there are many possible procedural rules, only some of which may be relevant to an association.
Some community organisations are registered as companies under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), often as Companies Limited by Guarantee - different laws apply to them. For more information see the following websites:
Some community organisations are also registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). The ACNC website has a lot of useful guides and information for registered organisations.
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.