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Rules for associations

Your association must have a written set of rules (or constitution) to govern how it runs. The rules take effect as soon as your association is incorporated.

The rules must set out:

  • how the association operates
  • the rights available to members
  • how the management committee works
  • how meetings will run.

Setting up the rules

You can choose to either use the model rules or write your own. The model rules are a standard set of rules that your association can choose to adopt. Make sure to read through the model rules before deciding whether to use them.

After incorporation, your association can amend its rules or you can completely replace your rules with the model rules. You must pass a special resolution at a general meeting to do so.

Within 3 months of passing the special resolution to change the rules, the secretary must apply for registration with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) by completing and lodging the application form (PDF, 377KB).

Model rules

The model rules might be suitable for your association. These rules:

  • are appropriate to the needs of most associations
  • will help you to comply with government regulations.

If you use the model rules, you must adopt them entirely. There are certain sections of the rules that you need to fill in. These are:

  • your association’s name (before and after you incorporate)
  • its objectives
  • the end date of your association’s financial year
  • the classes of membership.

These details are shown in the model rules in italics. If you change anything else, the rules you are adopting are no longer the model rules.

To use the model rules, you must fill in Appendix B on the application form.

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Own rules

Associations can elect to write their own rules. You can do this if your association’s needs differ from the model rules. You must complete Appendix A of the application form if you’re writing your own rules.

If you choose to write your association’s own rules, these rules must include:

  • your association’s name and objectives
  • details about membership, including fees and termination
  • provisions about taking the minutes of meetings
  • details of how your association’s finances will be managed
  • provisions for changing the rules
  • details of the different types of meetings.

The model rules automatically apply to any situations that your rules do not cover. If you want to exclude a provision in the model rules, you must outline the exclusion in your rules.

For example, the model rules allow proxy voting. To exclude proxy voting, your rules must clearly state that members may not vote in this way.

Alternatively, you can make a rule to exclude the model rules entirely. This rule should say the following:

  • ‘The provision at section 47(1) of the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 does not apply.’

Exemptions for charitable institutions

If your association will be applying to register as a charitable institution to receive tax exemptions, your rules must also comply with the Taxation Administration Act 2001, regulated by the Office of State Revenue.

These exemptions may include:

  • transfer duty
  • insurance duty
  • vehicle registration duty
  • land tax
  • payroll tax.

To be eligible for these exemptions, you will need to include extra clauses in the association rules.

Accessing the rules

Any member of an association should be able to access a copy of the rules. They can do this by:

  • asking the association’s secretary
  • contacting us and asking for a copy of an association’s rules (there is a fee of $3.65 per page).

The secretary must provide a copy of the rules if asked. They may ask the member to cover any reasonable costs (e.g photocopying fees).

Changing the rules

Your association can apply at any time to:

  • register any changes to its rules
  • adopt the latest version of the model rules.

To do this, you must pass a special resolution at a general meeting. Within 3 months of passing the resolution, the secretary must: