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Governance gets weighty

August 5, 2009

Newstead 2021 was well represented at a workshop in Castlemaine on August 4 to learn about the roles, responsibilities, liabilities and protections for board or committee members of not-for-profit organisations like ours.
Karly Smith, Geoff Park and myself attended.
The workshop, organised by Mt Alexander Shire’s Strengthening Volunteerism Project Officer Jacqueline Brodie-Hanns, was succinct, practical and alerted us to five key responsibilities.
Board or committee members, whether of incorporated associations or Section 86 committees, need to:
         a) act honestly and fairly
         b) use their powers to further the organisation’s purpose
         c) avoid conflicts of interest
         d) be diligent, careful and attentive and use their skills for the organisation’s good
         e) act in the organisation’s best interests
Since Newstead 2021 is an incorporated association, these are our legal duties.
We learnt about risk management policies, grievance procedures and briefly, public liability, although the question of whether we as committee members need to take out professional indemnity on top of Newstead’s already expensive public liability insurance remains unanswered.
Such expenses bite into money for our projects.
The workshop which attracted people from as far as Hamilton and Ballarat, was led by Kate Fischer and Nathan McDonald, lawyers from PilchConnect, which offers legal assistance for community organisations. (Pilch stands for Public Interest Law Clearing House.) Check www.pilchconnect.org.au
Thanks to Kate, Nathan and the dynamic Jacqui B-H.
We’re happy to share what we learnt with other groups in Newstead.

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