Incorporated associations

A not-for-profit group can incorporate to set up a legal identity separate from its members. Features of an incorporated association include:

  • lodged documents are kept on a public register
  • it can sue and be sued - giving some protection for individual members
  • it can enter into contracts
  • affairs are usually run by a committee.

Financial records

All incorporated associations must record and explain the transactions of the association and their financial position. Prescribed associations have additional financial requirements.

Incorporated associations must follow the current legal standards of accounting and financial reporting.

Refer to accounts and audits for details about reporting the association's finances and conducting an annual audit.

Association's name

The association’s full name must appear on all official documents, including:

  • business letters
  • accounts and receipts
  • official notices
  • publications
  • cheques.

A common seal (a stamp showing the full name of the association) is also needed and acts as a signature.

Committee roles

Roles in an incorporated association usually include:

  • public officer - primary contact for association
  • chair - presides at association and committee meetings
  • secretary - responsible for all correspondence
  • treasurer - income and financial records
  • committee members.

Public officer

Incorporated associations must have a public officer. This person signs most of the forms and documents and should understand what is needed under the Associations Incorporation Act 1985. The public officer must be:

  • 18 years or older
  • a resident of South Australia.

Notify CBS within one month if a new public officer is nominated or if the existing officer changes their address. Late fees apply if the association is without a public officer for longer than a month.

Further information about public officer responsibilities (PDF 374KB)

Notify CBS of public officer's details


If the association's rules don't cover a situation, consider:

  • using the principle of the rules (within context) to guide the outcome
  • seeking legal advice - especially if the outcome looks like it favours a member or subgroup over other members
  • changing the rules by special resolution.

At meetings, members should be able to:

  • speak freely
  • express concerns
  • vote on motions.

Minutes need to be taken at all meetings, signed by the chairperson - in public if possible - and saved as a record of the association’s activities.

Legal action

Dealing with suspected breaches (PDF 285KB) can give you guidance on what matters can be reported to CBS.

Winding up an incorporated association

If your association has a surplus not exceeding $5,000, apply for deregistration of incorporated association.

Apply now

If your association has surplus assets worth more than $5,000, your liquidator must lodge your winding-up report and Solvency Declaration application with CBS.

Winding up report and Solvency Declaration with surplus assets more than $5,000 (PDF 3.1MB)

Annual general meetings

The first annual general meeting (AGM) must be held within 18 months, and no more than six months after association’s end of financial year. All other AGMs must be held no more than five months after its end of financial year.

Further information - Administration of affairs for incorporated associations (PDF 570KB)

Related information

    Other websites

    Contact CBS Associations and Cooperatives


    Phone: 131 882

    GPO Box 1719
    Adelaide SA 5001

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    Page last updated 19 February 2020

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