Please watch the below video to learn about the proposed rule changes
RAR Special General Meeting (SGM) – Saturday, July 11th 2020 – We will vote for the new rules
RAR Annual General Meeting (AGM) – Saturday, September 19th 2020 – We will vote for the national committee
Details of change
Rural Australians for Refugees, or RAR, is incorporated under the Victorian Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012.
As part of this, we adopted Rules, which are intended to serve as a good governance guide to how RAR operates and a contract between RAR and its members. They set out our purposes and list the rights and responsibilities of members and office holders.
When RAR became incorporated, it adopted the Model Rules for associations provided under the Act (in fact, we also made some initial changes). The rules include seven parts with 77 sections. Some of the key topics the rules cover include definitions, powers, registrations of members and associates, disciplinary actions, notice periods, fees, annual general meetings, nomination processes, conflicts of interest, and management of funds.
Putting the Rules into practice, however, exposed some problems. At our last Annual General Meeting we resolved to revise the Rules to address these problems.
The national committee has had a rules subcommittee work to develop revised rules that reflect our existing activities and processes. These revised rules are now proposed for adoption by member groups at Special General meeting to be held on July 11 2020 via Zoom.
There are four key areas of changes to the rules. These attempt to state more clearly or directly:
- The membership of RAR and how individuals belonging to members are involved in RAR, Because this goes to central concepts of what RAR is, this involves many changes throughout the Rules. Thus, if you are glancing at the version of the Rules provided which shows the amendments, you might think that RAR was being changed greatly. But in this case, in fact, no substantive change to how RAR operates has been made.
- How groups and individuals can associate with RAR when they are not a member,
- The nomination and voting processes for the National Committee, and
- Notice requirements.
Besides this, there are some changes related to moving away from the Model Rules to Rules specific to RAR. One set of these changes is to no longer refer to “the Association” but to use the name RAR throughout: you can guess that made for many changes. Other changes update for the technology we use: videoconferencing technology is fully incorporated, including allowing for the electronic submission of votes; and faxes are out.
Before we were using the words “branch” or “member” to describe a community group that had joined RAR. Our groups will now be called “member” consistently. They also need to be based in a rural or regional locality.
Previously, we were also using the term “member” for the people who, coming from our members, were nominated by the groups to participate in general meetings and stand for Committee position. But our members are the community groups.
We make this clearer by saying the individuals involved in RAR will be “a person nominated by a member”, from those belong to that group. The groups are established as the fundamental unit of RAR nationally.
Changes to becoming an associate member
We now have a way of formally including our supporters. They will be associates of RAR. An associate is a group, or a person who is unable to join a member, that supports the purposes of RAR.
We have added a lot more detail around the process and role of associates, including:
- completing an application form,
- formal acceptance by the RAR national committee,
- entry in a register of associates,
- how the associate can take part in meetings and subcommittees
Changes to the nomination and voting process
We want our candidates for the national committee to be nominated by their groups: the groups can do only before the annual general meeting where the election happens. So, we have included how people can be nominated for committee positions, and how a returning officer in appointed to run the nomination and election process.
The new process starts at least 45 days before an annual general meeting of RAR. The Secretary will give members Notice that the Chairperson of the meeting must declare all positions on the Committee vacant at that meeting and allow elections to be held for those positions.
The secretary also gives members at least 14 days’ notice to nominate a returning officer A nominee for returning officer will have no interest in being elected and no personal connection with any person considering candidature. The National Committee will appoint a Returning Officer from among the nominees at least 30 days prior to the annual general meeting.
The returning officer must then, at least 28 days before the annual general meeting, give members at least 7 days’ notice that they can nominate persons who belong to their group for the national committee.
A nominated person may submit a written statement in support of their nomination and may be nominated for more than one Committee position. They also may decline the nomination by notifying the Returning Officer.
The names of and any statements for the persons nominated for committee positions will be circulated to members at least fourteen days prior to the general meeting.
The annual report and financial statements must be received by the annual general meeting before the Committee positions are declared vacant and the elections for these vacant positions are held.
At the annual general meeting, after the Chairperson declares all Committee positions vacant, the Returning Officer will first conduct elections, separately and in turn, for each of the following positions: the previous roles of President; Vice-President; Secretary; Assistant Secretary; and Treasurer; a newly-added position of Communications Convenor; and ordinary Committee members, who are now limited in number to six.
If a person who is nominated for more than one position is elected to a position, their nomination for any other position lapses.
This process means at least 45 days’ notice must be given for an annual general meeting. Other changes regarding notice are those about committee meetings and the addition of methods by which notice can be given to the Returning Officer.
How we can adopt the revised Rules
The revised Rules can only be adopted at a general meeting, which requires 21 days’ notice. Furthermore, we want to call the next Annual General Meeting under these rules, so that means holding the Special General Meeting at least 45 days before the Annual General Meeting now proposed for Saturday, September 19th 2020.
The meeting must make this decision through a Special Resolution, which mean a three-quarters majority vote. The National Committee is proposing the following motion:
“This Special General Meeting adopts the revised Rules of Rural Australians for Refugees, as notified to members on 16 June 2020.”
For more detail you can examine the clean copy of the new proposed Rules or if you want to look into the changes in greater detail, a version which tracks the changes is also available above.
Thank you for your involvement in RAR, and all the work you do for refugees and people seeking asylum. We look forward to an impactful year ahead!