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.

Check if an association is incorporated

You can search to see if an association is already incorporated.

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Association 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.

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.

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

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)

Disputes

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.

Contact CBS Associations and Cooperatives

Email: associations@sa.gov.au

Phone: 131 882

Post:
GPO Box 1719
Adelaide SA 5001


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Page last updated 6 July 2021

Provided by:
Attorney-General's Department
URL:
https://www.sa.gov.au/topics/family-and-community/community-organisations/types/incorporated-associations
Last Updated:
06/07/21
Printed on:
31/07/21
Copyright statement:
SA.GOV.AU is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Licence. © Copyright 2021
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