New laws for WA’s associations and clubs
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New laws have been passed which are aimed at helping associations and clubs in WA operate more efficiently by providing them with a clearer framework in which to operate under a simplified set of regulations.
The new laws will replace the existing Associations Incorporation Act 1987 and will apply to all existing incorporated associations in Western Australia.
The changes are expected to come into effect from 1 July 2016 and will cover more than 18,000 incorporated associations which encompass community and cultural organisations, sporting clubs and professional and industry bodies in WA.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the reforms recognise the vital contribution incorporated associations make to our community.
“It’s important that the laws covering the operation of incorporated associations meet current community needs and expectations,” Mr Hillyard said.
“A review of the current law concluded that improvements needed to be made to reduce the regulatory burden on incorporated associations, while addressing problems that have emerged in the administration of the current law in recent years as demands on incorporated associations have increased.
“The aim of the new laws is to streamline the regulation of incorporated associations in order to promote efficiencies and greater accountability, while minimising administration and compliance costs.
“A three-tiered financial reporting system will be introduced which will ensure that smaller incorporated associations with less than $250,000 annual revenue, which are largely run by volunteers, are not subject to the same level of reporting obligations as medium‑sized and larger incorporated associations that generate significantly more in annual revenue. There will be varying levels of financial reporting requirements for each tier.
“This new system of financial reporting and accountability is designed to minimise the burden on smaller incorporated associations, while recognising that larger incorporated associations should be accountable for the significant resources under their control.
“Incorporated associations will continue to report to their members only, rather than lodge annual financial statements with Consumer Protection. However, the Department can intervene in exceptional circumstances.”
Other changes include:
- Strengthening personal privacy of members by taking a flexible approach to what contact information is provided on the register of members and placing limits on what can be done with that information.
- A modernised statement of the duties that are owed by committee members reflecting their commitment to act in the best interests of the incorporated association and its members.
- A process for appointing a temporary statutory manager if the incorporated association is not functioning effectively.
- Internal dispute resolution processes to be in place with the option of taking the dispute to the State Administrative Tribunal if unresolved.
- Removal of the restriction on an incorporated association carrying on business or trading, provided that all profits from these ventures are applied solely towards achieving the incorporated association’s objects or purposes and are not used to secure pecuniary profit to members.
- A three-year transition period to allow incorporated associations to update their rules or constitution.
- Introduction of a simplified and streamlined process for incorporated associations to resolve their affairs and cancel their incorporation.
“The key goal of the new laws is to achieve a balance between the need for reasonable regulation with the desire for incorporated associations to be able to function autonomously and effectively, so they continue to remain an important part of community life in WA,” the acting Commissioner said.
More information on incorporated associations is available at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/associations or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
Incorporated associations are urged to use AssociationsOnline, the Department’s online portal where incorporated associations can electronically manage their obligations such as lodging applications and notifications of change from the convenience of home 24/7.
AssociationsOnline offers an easy and secure way for existing groups and those seeking to incorporate to transact with the Department without the need for paper forms and signatures.
Registering to use AssociationsOnline will help ensure that your incorporated association is kept informed about the new laws. Associations can register for access to the portal by completing the form found at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/aoenrol.
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