The law can be uncertain in relation to community organisations so clarity is important regarding operations and structure. The most common legal structure is the incorporated association. Voluntary, non-profit groups are the main target of this chapter.
Often people want to form a group to pursue a common goal, such as regenerating a local creek or forming a local netball club. Community organisations are important and most people will either be part of a community organisation or will have to deal with one.
It is important to be aware of the basic operation and structure of community organisations and to understand the key legal requirements for running them. The type of legal structure chosen will significantly affect the members of the group.
The choice of structure for any community organisation should balance two key matters:
•the personal liability of each member of the group;
•the ability of the group to meet the costs, requirements and ongoing obligations of the structure.
For more information on issues raised in this chapter, see “More information” and the free resources on Justice Connect Not-for-profit Law’s Information Hub (at www.nfplaw.org.au). (Justice Connect is an accredited community legal centre that has a specialist service that helps not-for-profit community groups.)
This chapter cannot give a definitive account of every form of community organisation. Nor can it set out the law as it relates to these organisations in detail. However, but it does provide an overview of the most common legal structures available to community organisations (and their advantages and disadvantages) and information about other general legal considerations to bear in mind when running a community organisation.
The content of this chapter is directed only to not-for-profit community organisations.