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Rules or Constitution

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The rules or constitution of a not-for-profit are a roadmap for running the organisation.  It is also a legal requirement that an organisation and its members follow the rules of the organisation.

Does your organisation use its own rules, or the 'model rules' or 'replaceable rules'?

When incorporated associations set up, they can choose between adopting the 'model rules' which are a template set of rules, or writing their own rules that meet legal requirements.  When companies incorporate, they can also choose between writing their own rules, or using the 'replaceable rules'.

Whenever you are thinking about changing your rules, it's crucial to know if you are already using your 'own rules' or if your group is using 'model rules' or 'replaceable rules'.

TIP: just because your rules say 'model rules' at the top does not mean they are still the model rules - many groups who started with the model rules have made changes to the model rules over time (but may not have changed the document title!).

Sometimes, when an organisation develops, or the law changes, it is necessary to change an organisation's rules or constitution.

If your organisation has used the model rules, or replaceable rules, and these no longer suit your needs, your group will need (for the first time) to write its own rules.

If your group has its own rules already, it will need to modify these rules.

The fact sheet below explains the steps involved in changing an incorporated association's rules including information regarding:

  • what is a constitution and is this the same as 'rules' or 'articles'?
  • why would an organisation need to change it's constitution and what issues should you look out for? and
  • the legal process for making changes to rules or constitutions.

2012 changes to the law

As a result of changes to the laws for incorporated associations in late 2012, many organisations using their 'own rules' were required to update their rules. Some groups still need to undertake an update. For an overview of the changes, go to our Update pageThe background and steps involved are set out in the resources below.

As well as affecting groups using their own rules, groups using the model rules automatically transitioned to new model rules - and this has prompted some organisations to write their own rules where the new model rules do not suit their needs.

Not-for-profit Law was previously known as PilchConnect. The resources below were developed in response to the needs of incorporated associations wanted to update their rules. The first fact sheet outlines the steps involved in updating rules to ensure they are compatible with the new laws. The Checklist is a tool to assist in updating rules. 

The below factsheet including information regarding:

  • changes to the law
  • how the changes affect the rules you are currently using, and
  • options to bring rules in line with the AIR Act

Simple Rules

Not-for-profit Law has also developed a set of simple rules as an alternative to the model rules. The Simple Rules have been downloaded by over 600 organisations. They are only 5 pages long, and provide an option for groups who do not want to write their own rules from scratch, or adopt the model rules. 

The Simple Rules can be downloaded by completing the form at the bottom of this page.

Related links

Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) resources

Incorporated associations

Co-operatives

The fact sheet below explains the steps involved in changing an incorporated association's rules including information about:

  • what is a constitution and is this the same as 'rules' or 'articles'?
  • why would an organisation need to change its constitution and issues to look out for? and
  • the legal process for making changes to rules or constitutions.

Changes to legislation

On 1 September 2016, changes to the laws regulating NSW incorporated associations took effect. The Associations Incorporation Regulation 2010 was replaced with the Associations Incorporation Regulation 2016 (NSW) and changes were made to the existing Associations Incorporated Act 2009 (NSW). The following fact sheet covers recent changes to Incorporated Associations legislation and the significance of those changes. 

From 1 September 2016, there are also new matters that must now be covered by an organisation's rules or constitution. Organisations that were using the NSW Model Constitution now have a new Model Constitution that applies (unless they chose to change their consitution). The following checklist covers the items that must be addressed in an organisation's constitution:

Related links

The fact sheet below explains the steps involved in changing an incorporated association's rules including information about:

  • what is a constitution and is this the same as 'rules' or 'articles'?
  • why would an organisation need to change its constitution and issues to look out for? and
  • the legal process for making changes to rules or constitutions.

Related links

The fact sheet below explains the steps involved in changing an incorporated association's rules including information about:

  • what is a constitution and is this the same as 'rules' or 'articles'?
  • why would an organisation need to change its constitution and issues to look out for? and
  • the legal process for making changes to rules or constitutions.

Related links

The fact sheet below explains the steps involved in changing an incorporated association's rules including information about:

  • what is a constitution and is this the same as 'rules' or 'articles'?
  • why would an organisation need to change its constitution and issues to look out for? and
  • the legal process for making changes to rules or constitutions.

Related links

Northern Territory Government

The fact sheet below explains the steps involved in changing an incorporated association's rules including information about:

  • what is a constitution and is this the same as 'rules' or 'articles'?
  • why would an organisation need to change its constitution and issues to look out for? and
  • the legal process for making changes to rules or constitutions.

Related links

  • Access Canberra - ACT Government's information for incorporated associations 

The fact sheet below explains the steps involved in changing an incorporated association's rules including information about:

  • what is a constitution and is this the same as 'rules' or 'articles'?
  • why would an organisation need to change its constitution and issues to look out for? and
  • the legal process for making changes to rules or constitutions.

Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) resources

Companies limited by guarantee 

 Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission

Simple Rules

PilchConnect, the previous name for Not-for-profit Law, developed a set of Simple Rules to assist Victorian incorporated associations drafting their own rules. To access the Simple Rules, please fill in the form below.

*Caution: for Victorian organisations only*

What are the purposes of your organisation?
This email address will be used to provide access to the document requested
Not-for-profit Law will not disclose the contents of this form, but may use de-identified information when reporting on the types of organisations accessing these rules.

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