Welcome to the Information Hub. Please select the jurisdictions you are interested in reading about to filter content on this site. Content about Federal laws will display in addition to content about laws for any state or territory selected. You can change your selection at any time in this panel. Save & Close Cancel Find out more

Members

Please change your location to view this page.

This page contains content that does not match your current location

Members can have rights and obligations under both the law that regulates the type of organisation they are a member of (for example a Victorian incorporated association) as well as the organisation's rules themselves. The rules or constitution forms an agreement between an organisation and its members.

Membership is a formal legal status, and all members should have their membership recorded on the members register (or equivalent). For many structures, an organisation has a legal requirement to keep a members register up-to-date.

It is important to note that members must consent to becoming a member of an organisation. Some groups create automatic memberships (for example if someone joins a sporting team) - however it is essential to get that person's consent.

Members' rights will depend in part on the legal structure of the organisation, so it is important that everyone understands the legal status of the organisation, and confirms that the person seeking to understand their rights is in fact a member in the legal meaning, rather than a client or service user.

Don’t know your legal structure?

There are a few steps you can take to find out your organisation’s legal structure. Firstly, if your organisation is a charity, the best place to look is on the ACNC register. Once you have found your organisation’s entry, you can check your rules or constitution which should state the type of legal structure. You can search by name and by ABN or ACN.

If your organisation is not a charity, you should start with the Australian Business Register search. You will need the name and ideally the ABN or ACN of your organisation. If your group is a Company Limited by Guarantee (a federal not-for-profit structure) this will be indicated in the entry as Australian Public Company. If your group is a state-based not-for-profit structure such as an incorporated association or a co-operative, it is likely that the ABR will list it as “Other Incorporated Entity”. You will then need to search your state/territory regulator of not-for-profits to confirm your structure.

Overview of general members rights and obligations

Rights can generally include:

  • voting rights
  • rights to notice of meetings and to attend certain meetings
  • rights to access certain documents
  • right to nominate to hold formal roles in the organisation
  • right to not be oppressed, and
  • in some cases, access to certain benefits (such as the use of tennis courts or a club house in the case of a tennis club, or online resources in the case of a medical support organisation).

Obligations can include

  • requirement to pay memberships fees, and
  • requirement to follow the rules of the organisation.

Members rights and obligations for Companies Limited by Guarantee

The following fact sheet outlines in more detail the members rights for member of companies limited by guarantee. The rights will differ depending on whether the organisation is registered as a charity with the ACNC or not. The fact sheet includes information regarding:

  • how to find out if a not-for-profit organisaiton is incorporated as a CLG and/or registered as a charity and access to company information
  • the liabilities of members and meetings & voting rights, and
  • appointment and removal of directors. 

Members rights for Incorporated Associations

Read our fact sheet on the rights of members in Victorian incorporated associations to understand more about:

  • how to find out if a not-for-profit organisation is an incorporated association
  • the liabilities of members, and meetings & voting rights, and
  • the appointment and removal of directors. 

Read our fact sheet on the rights of members in NSW incorporated associations to understand more about:

  • how to find out if a not-for-profit organisation is an incorporated association
  • the liabilities of members, and meetings & voting rights, and
  • the appointment and removal of directors. 

Read our fact sheet on the rights of members in Queensland incorporated associations to understand more about:

  • what are members’ rights and the sources of members’ rights?
  • what happens if a member is denied their rights? and
  • how can members’ rights be suspended?

Read our fact sheet on the rights of members in South Australian incorporated associations to understand more about: 

  • what are members' rights and the sources of members' rights?
  • what happens if a member is denied their rights? and
  • how can members' rights be suspended?

Related links

Read our fact sheet on the rights of members in Northern Territory incorporated associations to understand more about:

  • what are members’ rights and the sources of members’ rights?
  • what happens if a member is denied their rights? and
  • how can members’ rights be suspended?

Read our fact sheet on the rights of members in Australian Capital Territory incorporated associations to understand more about:

  • what are members’ rights and the sources of members’ rights?
  • what happens if a member is denied their rights? and
  • how can members’ rights be suspended?

Read our fact sheet on the rights of members in Tasmanian incorporated associations to understand more about:

  • what are members’ rights and the sources of members’ rights?
  • what happens if a member is denied their rights? and
  • how can members’ rights be suspended?

Subscribe to our newsletter

Subscribe to the Update

Subscribe to the Update

Subscribe to the monthly Not-for-profit Law Update for information on changes to the law, new resources, events and other sector news.

Subscribe