The constitution is a document establishing the organisation and setting out the purposes for which it has come together and all of the rules under which it proposes to operate. It must reflect the way in which the organisation works.
The constitution should define the rights and duties of individual members and those of the members of the committee, who are elected to run the organisation on a day-to-day basis.
Minimum requirements of a constitution
A constitution should specify:
- Qualification for membership - who is entitled to be a member, and who decides on applications for membership (usually the committee).
- Whether application for membership should be in writing and whether referees should be named.
- Classes of members, and their rights, such as honorary life members who have all the entitlements of ordinary members but who may not be eligible to vote.
- Manner in which a membership can be cancelled other than by resignation (e.g. overdue membership subscriptions) and the reasons a person can be expelled or suspended from the organisation.
- Manner in which a general meeting can be called to resolve an issue.
- Powers of the committee which enable committee members to manage the day-to-day running of the organisation.
- Whether the secretary and treasurer can be one and the same person. (Ideally they would be separate to maximise accountability.)
- Number of members of the committee, the regularity of meetings and number of committee members required for a quorum.
- Manner and circumstances for committee members to be indemnified out of the organisation's funds, in the event that they incur any liability on behalf of the organisation.
- Manner of winding up the organisation and the distribution of assets.
Associations Incorporation Act
The Associations Incorporation Act,1981 provides a model constitution for clubs and associations. The following should be noted:
- Changes to the constitution are usually required to be debated and voted upon at an annual general meeting or a special general meeting.
- Constitution should always be kept up to date by the Secretary, so that there can be no confusion about rules at any time.
- It is good practice to send copies of all amendments to those who hold copies of the constitution.
Click here to view an example Constitution.