Template governing documents and model rules

What are template governing documents?

Each charity will have governing documents of some kind, which will set out its charitable purpose, that it operates on a not-for-profit basis and how the governing body of the charity (such as its committee of management, or board) makes decisions and consults any members. These documents may have different names, depending on your charity’s structure or form.

Template governing documents are examples that charities can use when they are setting up, or considering changing structure, that they can adapt to suit their particular circumstances.

Attention - Important information!You may need to get professional advice to make sure you choose a legal structure and governing documents that are suitable for your charity.

Legal requirements for governing documents

All charities registered with the ACNC must have governing documents that meet certain legal requirements. Some of these requirements are the same for all charities registered with the ACNC. The other requirements depend on things such as:

  • the legal structure of your charity
  • which state or territory your charity is incorporated in, and
  • whether your charity is endorsed by the Australia Taxation Office (ATO) as a deductible gift recipient (DGR).

Types of template or model governing documents

Some Commonwealth, state and territory incorporating regulators provide template or ‘model’ governing documents for charities with certain legal structures. These templates meet the legal requirements for the relevant legal structure and may be adopted and used as the governing documents for charities.

Some of the template governing documents available for charities are:

  • the ‘model rules’ for incorporated associations provided by state and territory incorporating regulators
  • the ‘model rules’ for co-operatives provided by state and territory incorporating regulators
  • the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) ‘template rule book’ for Indigenous corporations.

Each incorporating regulator provides guidance on how to use its template governing documents.

Attention - Important information!The Co-operatives National Law is uniform legislation gradually introduced in each state and territory to regulate co-operatives in the same way across Australia. The regulations under the Co-Operatives National Law have ‘model rules’ for co-operatives. You need to check the requirements for rules for co-operatives with the regulator in your state or territory.

Commonwealth

Companies limited by guarantee

An organisation may choose to incorporate as a company (also called a corporation) with ASIC.

The ACNC provides a template constitution for a small company limited by guarantee with charitable purposes and a guide to the template constitution.

Indigenous corporations

The Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations (ORIC) provides rule book templates and related guidance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations.

For more information, see the ACNC’s guidance on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations or the ORIC website.

State and territory

Please note that some of the state or territory model rules do not include objects clauses. The ACNC requires charities to set out their charitable purpose or purposes in their governing documents.

ACT

The Australian Capital Territory Office of Regulatory Services provides model rules for ACT incorporated associations.

For more information on requirements for charities in the ACT, see the Office of Regulatory Services’ guidance for ACT associations.

New South Wales

New South Wales Fair Trading provides:

For more information on requirements for charities in NSW, see the NSW Fair Trading guidance on NSW co-operatives and associations.

Northern Territory

The Northern territory Department of Business provides a model constitution template for NT incorporated associations and related information.

Queensland

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading provides model rules for Queensland incorporated associations.

For more information on requirements for charities in Queensland, see the Office of Fair Trading’s guidance for associations and non-profits and guidance for cooperatives.

South Australia

South Australian Consumer and Business Services provides an example of rules for a South Australian incorporated association (Form 3).

For more information on requirements for charities in South Australia, see the Consumer and Business Services guidance for South Australian associations and charities

Tasmania

The Tasmanian Office of Consumer Affairs and Trading provides model rules for Tasmanian incorporated associations.

For more information on requirements for charities in Tasmania, see the Consumer Affairs and Trading guidance for incorporated associations and guidance for co-operatives.

Victoria

Consumer Affairs Victoria provides model rules for Victorian incorporated associations.

For more information on requirements for charities in Victoria, see the Victorian Not for Profit Compliance Support Centre (site managed by the Department of Human Services).

Western Australia

Western Australian Consumer Protection provides model rules for Western Australian incorporated associations. The incorporated associations law is changing in WA from 1 July 2016, with new model rules being introduced.
For more information on requirements for charities in Western Australia, see the Department of Commerce’s guidance for Western Australian associations and clubs.

Attention - Important information!This page contains links to external websites. Any external links used by the ACNC are inserted for convenience and do not constitute an endorsement or recommendation of any material at those sites. Information and resources provided by the ACNC is for general information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice regarding your charity's particular circumstances.