Seeking external assistance
Most grievances and disputes can be resolved using internal procedures. Occasionally, these processes fail and help from an external party may be required.
Professional dispute resolution services
An association can make use of professional mediation and dispute resolution services that are available. These services provide intervention in the form of negotiation, mediation and arbitration. This may avoid court action and the services are generally less time consuming and costly.
State Administrative Tribunal
Where a dispute between individual members or members and the association relating to the rules cannot be resolved through the dispute resolution process as set out in the rules, an application may be made for the dispute to be heard by the State Administrative Tribunal (the SAT).
The SAT has powers to:
- refer the dispute for mediation;
- give orders:
- directing for the rules to be followed.
- declaring and enforcing the rights and obligations between members.
- declaring and enforcing the rights and obligations between the association and member(s).
There are fees associated with applications to the SAT and more information about the application and hearing processes can be found at www.sat.justice.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 306 017.
An application can be made to a court to settle certain disputes, for example, where a committee member has mismanaged association funds. Resolving disputes through court action is likely to be costly and may not have the desired outcome. Courts are generally reluctant to interfere with the internal management of associations, particularly where the members have the power to resolve matters themselves. You should seek your own independent legal advice about the avenues available.
Other government regulators
Depending on the nature of the concerns, some government departments may be able to provide assistance or advice. For example if the problem relates to:
- an employment issue, contact Wageline on 1300 655 266.
- a licensed premises, contact Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries - Racing, Gaming and Liquor.
- taxation or superannuation, contact the Australian Taxation Office.
If the association receives funding and your concerns relate to matters within the funding agreement you may wish to discuss the matter with the funding body.