Types of meetings
There are various types of meetings that serve different purposes and have slightly different requirements.
Annual General Meeting
The Annual General Meeting (AGM) is a central part of an incorporated association's governance structure, as it holds an association accountable to its members, and in some cases the public. It is the only association meeting specifically provided for in the Act.
The association must hold its first AGM within 18 months of becoming incorporated. After the first AGM, incorporated associations must hold an AGM once in every calendar year within six months after the end of the association's financial year. An association’s financial year will be defined in its rules. Assuming an association's end of financial year is 30 June then it must hold its AGM on or before 31 December.
If for some reason, the association finds itself unable to hold its AGM within the legislated timeframe it should contact Consumer Protection immediately to seek an extension.
The Commissioner for Consumer Protection has the power to allow an incorporated association to hold an AGM outside of the six month period, but only if the request is made before that period expires.
For example, an association has a financial year that ends on 30 June. This means that the AGM can be held between 1 July and 31 December. If the Association is not able to hold the AGM until after 31 December, then an extension of time must be requested. The application must be received by the Department no later than 31 December.
An application for an extension of time to hold the AGM can be made by lodging the application using Associations Online.
Notice of an AGM should be sent to all members, irrespective of voting rights, in accordance with the association's rules. Invitations to AGMs may be extended to special guests and/or the public as a way of promoting the association and its achievements.
The business of the AGM generally covers financial reports and the election of the management committee and office bearers. The Act requires the annual financial accounts for the preceding financial year to be presented to members at each AGM.
This is an important obligatory provision – for further information see Members' rights to the financial accounts.
Whilst it is not mandatory under the Act for all associations to have the financial accounts audited every financial year, and to appoint an auditor at the AGM (see Accounts and auditing for information about requirements for different associations) it may be a stated requirement in the rules of the association. Where the rules stipulate an annual audit, the appointment of the auditor is usually decided at an AGM.
If the association's chairperson is standing for re-election, he or she will usually step aside as chair of the meeting and arrange for another officer to chair that section of the meeting and conduct the election.
An example of an agenda/notice of meeting for an AGM is shown below. Note that some rules of association set out the order of business to be followed. If so, the sequence shown in the rules should be followed exactly.
The Annual General Meeting will be held at the
Council Meeting Room on 15 February 2015 at 7pm.
- Chairperson's opening
- Minutes of previous meeting
- Business arising from the minutes
- Correspondence [sometimes omitted]
- Chairperson's report
- Treasurer's report
- Election of committee members
- Guest speaker
- Motion on notice:
Mrs Smith to move: 'That the Association organise a fundraising event to raise money to donate to the local youth groups’.
- Questions and discussion
- Notice of motions for the next meeting
- Next meeting
Special (or extraordinary) general meetings
A general meeting other than an AGM is usually referred to as a special general meeting. These meetings are held to deal with specific motions or business. For example, to change the rules of the association, question the legality of a management committee decision or deal with a particular issue.
The rules of association generally set out the grounds for a special meeting being called (eg by petition of a certain percentage of the membership) and the notice period and procedures required.
Management committee meetings
Management committees will need to hold regular meetings in order to manage the affairs of the association. General meeting procedures apply to committee meetings. The management committee is also responsible for convening the AGM within six months after the end of the association's financial year.
General meetings directed by the Commissioner
In rare circumstances where there is a dispute affecting the association and the holding of a general meeting may assist to resolve the dispute, the Commissioner for Consumer Protection has the power under the Act to direct the association to hold a general meeting. It is important to note that this power would only be exercised in circumstances where the matter is affecting the overall conduct of the association’s affairs. Such powers would not be exercised to resolve private member disputes.
Members should refer to Resolving complaints and disputes for options to resolve these forms of disputes.