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This Statement sets out the regulatory approach that the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety - Consumer Protection Division (Consumer Protection) will take in relation to compliance with the Associations Incorporation Act 2015 (WA) (the Act) in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 has created a challenging environment that has greatly impacted the not-for-profit sector. In addition, restrictions regarding public gatherings and physical distancing have prevented many associations in Western Australia from operating normally.
For example, restrictions have prevented the holding of meetings, including annual general meetings. Many fundraising events have had to be cancelled, which has put pressure on the financial health of many associations.
Consumer Protection appreciates that these exceptional circumstances require flexibility on the part of the regulator.
It is important to note that the legislative obligations under the Act remain in force and associations should make all reasonable efforts to continue to comply with those obligations. Consumer Protection will continue to undertake compliance and enforcement activities.
Generally, where compliance is affected due to COVID-19, Consumer Protection will take a supportive and educative approach provided genuine attempts have been made to comply with the requirements of the Act. In these circumstances, Consumer Protection will provide guidance and information to assist with achieving voluntary compliance with the Act.
However, if serious breaches or misconduct are identified then Consumer Protection may still take enforcement action.
This approach has been applied across all provisions of the Act and no time limit has been applied to this arrangement, which remains in place for all matters that can be attributed to COVID-19.
The Commissioner for Consumer Protection has also issued advice about your consumer rights during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, with a list of frequently asked questions addressing retail, travel, memberships and services issues and how they are covered by legislation.