I was asked some penetrating questions at last night’s SGC meeting about chaning the AGA Constitution. Here are the questions and my answers – I am at the club each Friday and am happy to discuss any of this or any other questions you may have.
Question: Why change the constitution?
Short answer: We need to change to meet the legal requirements of the NSW DFT to become an incorporate association. There are 17 basic requirements and our existing constitution fails to address more than half of them.
Longer answer: The change to the constitution is tightly coupled with the Incorporation motion passed overwhelmingly at the 2017 AGM. Incorporation and a legally approved Constitution is the normal way for a group or association to establish itself for the future and to legally protect both members and officers of the association.
Incorporation and a Constitution are not scary, school parent and citizen groups, local soccer, league clubs, AFL clubs, chess clubs, bridge clubs, water polo clubs, table tennis clubs and many more are Incorporated with a legally approved Constitution.
The decision to Incorporate is important and there are Internet resources with information to help people make an informed decision. Check https://www.nfplaw.org.au/incorporationdecision – the site has a lot of other useful, factual information.
Question: what are the risks of changing the Constitution and Incorporation?
Short answer: There are always risks but in this case they are minimal. Perhaps some people will not stand for office because they don’t like the legal framework and there are potential fines for not following the legal processes but they are detailed in the proposal documents.
Longer answer: The risks to the AGA are minimal, there is a list of processes included with the original proposal along with a schedule of fines. Obviously, the officers of the association only need to comply with those processes and there will be no financial or legal penalty. The work required for each officer is normal for anybody taking on a volunteer role.
Should the Association not be able to produce financial accounts, hold meetings in accordance with the regulations and constitution the we can apply to become unincorporated. Having said that, if we can’t do those basic things we should pack up our stones and boards and go home.
Question: what are the benefits?
Short answer: Incorporation prepares the association for future opportunities and makes the AGA a legal entity.
Longer answer: One significant benefits of Incorporation is the legal requirement for transparency and accountability and the establishment of the AGA as a legal entity. The members and the association are better-protected from the potential malfeasance of individuals, the officers have clearly defined roles and responsibilities and there are clear outlines for dealing with complaints and grievances.
Incorporating the AGA makes it a legal entity but it does enable the AGA to take action in it’s own right and if there’s an opportunity for sponsorship or a joint venture such as the Ing Foundation proposal of 2017 then the AGA can enter into a contract.
Go has more exposure than ever before with the advent of AlphaGo and the worldwide publicity and there is a growing recognition of Mind Sports as a whole. The AGA needs to be in a position to participate in larger Mind Sports events so it’s necessary we’re in a position to do so quickly and seamlessly. Incorporation establishes the AGA as a legal body which can enter into contracts etc.
Question: what about spreading Go and getting Go into schools – will this help?
Short answer: Yes. We have already taught Go at some schools but getting further requires engaging with various departments of education. They do not engage with individuals or unincorporated associations.
Longer answer: The primary aim of the AGA is to promote Go in Australia, a primary area where that can be achieved is schools. We have engaged with a small number of individual schools in recent years but many opportunities pass us by. However, engagement or any approach to state education departments will be rejected out of hand unless we are a legal (Incorporated) body; they simply don’t deal with individuals or unincorporated associations.
Federal, state and local government, business (such as the Ing Foundation) and sporting agencies are not going to recognize the AGA as a “serious” participant, and we’ll get a much lower priority, if any unless we Incorporation. Preparing for future opportunities is a prudent step and vastly preferable to missing an opportunity or scrambling at the last minute.
Question: what process did the AGA committee follow to create the new Constitution?
Short & long answer: We established a sub-committee who created the new document using the existing one as the base. That document was discussed at length by the full committee who discussed and passed all clauses. There were compromises on some issues but all clauses were passed unopposed.
Question: Why are you (David Mitchell) in favour?
Short answer: Compliance with regulations and constitution are protection for the officers and members but that’s secondary. The key purpose is to prepare for the future – as I said in the Incorporation debate, the AGA has existed for many decades and for many decades the membership has been the same – a few hundred people. For the AGA to fulfil it’s aims (stated in both the old and new constitutions) then things need to change. Incorporation is a vital step; the AGA can stay as it is or prepare for the future – whatever it holds. The choice is yours.
Longer answer: Way too long to write here.
To vote email David Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your AGA membership number and your vote – or use the voting form available at the club.Follow us: