Each charity has a governing document which sets out its charitable purpose, its not-for-profit basis and how the governing body of the charity (its committee or board) makes decisions and consults members. Such a document may have different names depending on the charity’s structure or form.

Governing document templates are examples that a charity can use when setting up, or considering changing structure, and can adapt to suit its particular circumstances.

Legal requirements for governing documents

All charities registered with the ACNC must have a governing document that meets 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 the charity
  • which state or territory the charity is incorporated in, and
  • whether the 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 document for a charity.

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 document.

The ACNC provides:

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 our guidance on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporations or the ORIC website.

ACT

Access Canberra provides model rules for incorporated associations in the ACT.

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 Trade, Business and Innovation provides 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 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. [BROKEN LINK]

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.

Western Australia

Western Australian Consumer Protection provides model rules for Western Australian incorporated associations.

For more information on requirements for charities in Western Australia, see the Department of Commerce’s guidance for Western Australian associations and clubs.