Types of records to be kept
Types of records to be kept
There are a number of records that an association should keep as a matter of good policy and sound administration.
Some records are required to be kept by law such as members' registers and employment and tax records.
Records required by the Act
The Act requires an association to keep the following records:
- an up-to-date register of all members, including their nominated contact information;
- an up-to-date version of the rules;
- an up-to-date list of the names and addresses of people who are office holders under the rules of the association, including committee members, any trustees and those authorised to use the common seal;
- accounting records that correctly record and explain the financial transactions and position of the association in such a manner that allows true and fair accounts to be prepared; and
- every disclosure of interest made by a committee member to be recorded in the minutes of the meeting at which the disclosure was made.
The Commissioner for Consumer Protection can request an association to produce any or all of the records listed above. Under the Act members have the right to inspect and copy each of the first three records listed above (see also Members' access to the records below).
Minutes of all meetings especially of the Annual General Meeting (AGM) and management committee should be recorded, approved and filed for easy retrieval (see also Meetings). Approved minutes provide an official record of:
- business discussed;
- correspondence received;
- reports tabled;
- decisions made; and
- resolutions adopted.
Recorded decisions should clearly state:
- what decision has been made;
- who will be responsible for its implementation;
- when the decision is to be implemented by;
- if the decision is to be reviewed, and if so, when and by whom; and
- who should be notified of the decision and how.
In addition to minutes, it is also common practice for associations to maintain a register of all significant resolutions passed by the association.
The Act requires adequate notice of association meetings and special resolutions be given to all members and that notice periods be specified in the rules of association.
Meeting notices must be given in accordance with the association's rules and should include the time, date, place and purpose. Copies of notices showing the date of issue should be kept in case of later dispute. Notices are often filed with the related minutes.
Certificate of Incorporation
This certificate is issued when the association is first incorporated or if an association changes its name.
It is important the certificate is stored safely as it is evidence of the association's corporate status. The certificate can be required for example, when applying for funding grants or opening a bank account.
If the certificate cannot be located an association can apply through AssociationsOnline to have a duplicate certificate issued for a small fee.
The Act requires records to be kept of the association's finances. Taxation and industrial legislation also require financial records to be kept.
Effective management committees need clear and accurate up-to-date financial information to keep well-informed and to ensure that the association and its services remain viable.
The requirements of the Act are quite specific:
- associations must keep sufficient accounting (or financial) records so that the financial transactions and financial position of the association are correctly recorded;
- these records need to be kept in a way that will allow true and fair accounts (or financial statements) to be prepared from time to time, and so that these accounts can be conveniently audited if required; and
- the financial records are required to be kept for at least seven years.
Depending on the association's annual revenue there may be additional accounting requirements to be met. These requirements are discussed in detail in Accounts and Auditing.
Many medium to large associations compile an annual report which is tabled at the AGM. An annual report summarises the main achievements and highlights of the past 12 months.
There is no set format for an annual report, but it can include the following items:
- Chairperson's report.
- Staff report.
- Activity report.
- Annual statistics.
- Annual financial report.
- Interest stories, highlights and low points.
- List of staff, management and volunteers.
Where an annual report is produced, it is usual to include the annual financial report. As an annual financial report is required under the Act, it is a convenient way of ensuring that the association meets its obligation to submit its annual accounts to its members at the AGM.
Many associations distribute an annual report as a public relations exercise. Some funding agreements require annual reports.
In addition to the records required by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and State and Commonwealth industrial laws (see Employment), associations may wish to set up employment‑related record systems. These could include:
- records of all job descriptions, selection criteria, related industrial agreements, past advertisements and job position evaluations;
- records of selection processes and outcomes;
- formal records of any meeting or discussion related to issues of employee performance and position review;
- formal documentation of all proceedings related to any employer/employee, employee/employee, or employee/third party grievance;
- records on staff training and professional development; and
- copies of all correspondence and memoranda relating to individual conditions of employment, changes or requests.
Occupational health and safety assessments and data should be kept to record the association's management of its legal responsibilities to provide a safe workplace (see also Occupational Safety and Health and Workers' Compensation).
The following health and safety records should be kept in a separate file for easy access and reference:
- risk management analysis;
- training details;
- safety committee minutes; and
- copies of specific management committee resolutions.
Copies of all insurance policies should be kept in a secure place. Changes to policies should be updated on the files immediately they are received.
Insurance policies may require an association to keep specific records in addition to those already kept, for the purposes of validating a policy. Such records may include health declarations, assets register, numbers of volunteers and number of hours undertaking certain activities.
Associations must notify their insurer as soon as possible after the occurrence of certain events such as an accident, theft or fire. It is important associations keep copies of all notifications and correspondence to prevent the possibility of any dispute regarding an association's obligations.
Service delivery records
Some associations need to keep records of its service delivery and activities in order to:
- acknowledge achievements;
- minimise risk of professional negligence;
- facilitate communications and change overs;
- ensure industry or professionally‑based requirements are met; and
- assist in evaluation and planning.
This may take the form of statistic sheets, case files or employee reports.
Funding arrangements may also require certain records to be kept and reported on. Failure to properly keep records or report as required (quarterly, annually etc.) may result in a breach of the funding agreement and subsequent loss of funding.