SA Introduces Reforms Package for Associations

Friday 24 September 2021 @ 10.41 a.m. | Corporate & Regulatory | Legal Research

On 24 August 2021, the Associations Incorporation (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2021 (SA) (the "Bill") was introduced into the South Australian Legislative Assembly by Attorney-General Vickie Chapman.

The Bill proposes to amend the Associations Incorporations Act 1985 (SA) (the "Act"). The Attorney-General commented in her second reading speech, that the amendments proposed aims:

"improve the regulatory framework for the support, oversight and management of associations operating in South Australia. There are three key themes to this reform package: support, oversight and regulation."

Proposed Amendments

The Bill seeks to allow incorporated associations to adopt model rules. However, this is not mandatory.

The Attorney-General  explains in her second reading speech that the adoption of model rules is intended to:

"minimise the cost and risk to associations and provide greater consistency and structure in the management of associations across the state".

The proposed reforms also seek to provide increased transparency for members of associations. The Bill seeks to introduce requirements in the recording of minutes.

The Attorney-General also highlights in her second reading speech that:

"the amendments also seek to ensure that associations have clear dispute resolution processes established and that these are clear and transparent to members."

To this end the model rules will clarify:

  • who can rule on a dispute;
  • what the appropriate jurisdictional body is; and
  • procedures regarding disputes between an association and a member of the association. 

The Attorney-General also comments in her speech that:

"Better oversight of the sector is also proposed through amendments to provide clarity around the disclosure of a committee member's conflict of interest and the need to establish and maintain a membership register."

Other amendments under the Bill that seek to improve oversight in this sector, include amendments that aim to:

  • streamline the process for authorised inspection of records by members;
  • clarify how an association's financial records and minutes are to be inspected; and
  • allowing for member voting via electronic means (and no longer requiring a common seal).

The Attorney-General adds in her second reading speech that the Bill also proposes to require a:

"regular touchpoint with the [Corporate Affairs] commission by incorporated associations to verify their details on the register and confirm that they are still operating and provide updated contact details".

The Bill also proposes the introduction of new powers to the the Corporate Affairs Commission to empower the Commission, so that they may better address misconduct and investigate potential breaches of the Act. Amendments in the Bill to this effect include empowering the Commission to:

  • to disqualify or suspend committee members;
  • call general meetings; and
  • issue compliance notices.

The Bill is yet to pass the lower house.

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Associations Incorporation (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2021 (158 of 2021) [SA], second reading speech, explanatory memorandum available from TimeBase's LawOne Service

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