Changing the association's name

Sometimes associations decide they need to change the name of the association. Perhaps the name no longer reflects the nature of the group or there is a desire to change direction and marketing.

This decision should not be taken lightly, as it can have long-term effects on public perceptions. For some members, a name change is insignificant and may merely reflect a change in the way the association has moved. It may be considered a strategic, business or public relations decision. However, for an association with a long history the name is part of that history. Some members may no longer feel the association has a connection with them if the name is changed.

Requirements for changing the name

  1. The new name could be rejected if it is the same or very similar to another name.  Consumer Protection holds a register of names and can conduct a name search.  The Commissioner will only approve a name change if he or she is of the opinion that the name is appropriate.
  2. To change the name of the association requires a special resolution by the members passed at a general meeting. An association’s name actually forms part of its rules, so a change of name effectively requires a change of rules. The procedure is the same as that as previously discussed.
  3. Within one month of passing the special resolution, the association must lodge the notice of the special resolution with the Commissioner. Once again, associations can submit the notice to Consumer Protection using AssociationsOnline. A copy of the association’s rules with the new name should accompany the application.
  4. Legally, the association has not formally altered its rules and changed its name until the notice of the special resolution is lodged with the Commissioner and he or she approves the name change. The Commissioner may instruct the association to publish a notice of the proposed name change before approving the change.  Until the name is approved by the Commissioner in writing, DO NOT:
    • use the new name;
    • arrange for the printing of new signage, letterheads, business cards, etc.;
    • change bank account and/or insurance policy details;
    • notify the tax office (do you need a new ABN? - check);
    • notify essential services;
    • notify creditors; or
    • notify members, clients, customers, etc.
  5. The Commissioner will issue a new certificate to show the new name and date of registration.
  6. For a period of time the association may choose to include the old name on all correspondence (‘formerly XYZ Inc’) until people become familiar with the new name.

What happens if the name change is not approved?

The Commissioner will not approve a name unless he or she is of the opinion that the proposed name is an appropriate name under which an association might be incorporated under the Act.

As with the original approval of the name, the Commissioner for Consumer Protection may reject a proposed change of 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.

If the Commissioner refuses to approve the change of name the association may request a review of the decision by applying to the SAT. If seeking a review, sound reasons need to be given why the association wants to change the name.

The association must make the review application within 28 days of receiving notice of the refusal.