Steps to becoming an incorporated association
The procedure for registering an incorporated association is fairly simple and involves a few basic steps.
The key steps are:
- hold an initial meeting to obtain members’ approval for incorporation;
- determine a suitable name and check that the group is eligible for incorporation;
- develop your own set of rules or adopt the model rules;
- hold a meeting to formally pass a resolution to adopt the rules and approve the proposed name of the association; and
- complete and submit the application.
1. Hold an initial meeting
Before a group can proceed with an application for incorporation, it needs to determine whether or not the group wants to become incorporated and to decide who will be responsible for making the application. The group should hold a meeting with all members to vote whether it wants to incorporate.
If the members agree that the organisation is to become an incorporated association they need to:
- authorise one or more members to prepare and submit the application for incorporation;
- decide on a possible name for the association;
- decide on the aims of the association; and
- elect a member or committee to draft the rules.
2. Determine a suitable name and eligibility
Checking the name
The name of the association should reflect its objects and purposes. The Commissioner for Consumer Protection can reject a name if it is:
- already in use;
- offensive or undesirable;
- likely to mislead the public; or
- likely to be confused with the name of an existing body corporate or registered business name.
Please be aware that while a name may be available for use at the time of your enquiry it cannot be reserved or protected in any way. Final approval of the name will be subject to a formal assessment of the application for incorporation.
When the group authorises a person to apply for incorporation it might be advisable to provide that person with some additional name options in case your first choice is not available.
Approval of purpose
It is important to make sure that the objects of your association are consistent with the Act. If the purpose of the association is not one which is specified in section 4 of the Act, the association can only be incorporated if the purpose is approved by the Commissioner under section 4(a)(x).
This section allows for incorporation ‘for any other purpose approved by the Commissioner’.
There is a fee payable for this application.
3. Develop a set of rules
The Act requires an incorporated association to have a set of rules that govern the day-to-day management of the association.
Any association incorporated in Western Australia is required to make provision for specific matters in its rules. These matters are detailed in Schedule 1 of the Act and are included at the end of this chapter.
An incorporated associations rules must provide for the Schedule 1 matters as a minimum. Other rules may be permitted providing those rules do not breach any laws. For example, the rules cannot discriminate in membership on grounds prohibited by legislation (see Discrimination and Harassment).
There are no requirements about the length or complexity of rules for an incorporated association. To avoid misinterpretation the rules should be written in clear simple language.
You may choose to adopt the Model Rules or draft your own rules, however the rules must:
- be consistent with the requirements of the Act;
- provide for all the matters set out in Schedule 1 of the Act; and
- comply with any taxable status provisions the group is seeking (see Taxation for more information).
Using the model rules
The model rules are a complete set of rules prescribed by the Associations Incorporations Regulations that have been developed so that groups who do not want to develop their own rules have a set of rules available for use. The model rules meet all of the requirements of the Act and provide a suitable governance framework for an association.
If you choose to use the model rules, the only additional information that you need to provide to the Commissioner with your application is:
- name of the association;
- objects or purposes of the association;
- quorum for a general meeting of members of the association;
- quorum for a meeting of the management committee of the association; and
- period of the first financial year of the association.
Please note that if the association changes any of the provisions in the model rules (with the exception of the matters above) it is no longer considered to be using the model rules.
Associations choosing to adopt the model rules will adopt the rules as in force from time to time, so any changes to the model rules after incorporation will automatically take effect in the rules of the association. Associations will be advised of any changes by notification to their address for service – so it is important that this address is kept current (see Updating the association’s address)
Drafting your own rules
When developing a set of rules for the association you may wish to follow a systematic and democratic process such as:
- Draft the rules using the model rules as a guideline.
- Check the Schedule 1 requirements of the Act are met.
- Circulate the rules to the entire membership for consideration, discussion and feedback. You may also seek legal, tax or other professional advice.
- Decide on any changes and redraft the rules.
- Repeat points 3 and 4 until a final draft is produced.
- Call a meeting of the association’s membership to formally adopt the final set of rules.
- Send the rules to Consumer Protection along with the other documents for incorporation under the Act.
4. Hold a meeting to formally pass a resolution to adopt the rules and approve the proposed name of the association.
After a draft set of rules has been developed, a meeting to adopt the rules of the association and approve the proposed name should be held. The motions should be formally moved, seconded and recorded in the minutes (see Meetings for more information regarding motions).
5. Complete and submit the application
The application for incorporation can be submitted online using AssociationsOnline. The online application form requires:
- the name of the association (including the word ‘Inc’ or ‘Incorporated’);
- the main purpose of the association;
- details of the applicant;
- a copy of the rules developed by the association or a statement that the group will be adopting the Model Rules. If an association has developed its own rules it will also be required to complete a table identifying the Schedule 1 matters within the rules; and
- necessary information about the proposed association name, objects, quorums and financial year.
Once all information is entered and uploaded, payment can be made using a secure payment system.
When submitting your application to Consumer Protection remember to:
- complete the application in full and sign the declaration;
- pay the correct fee;
- attach a complete copy of the association’s rules; and
- keep a copy of all documents submitted. Consumer Protection does not provide a final copy to the association.