Waugh-ACB warning to sporting groups

THE current deadlock between Mark Waugh and the Australian Cricket Board sends a timely reminder to all Western Australian sporting and community-based volunt-ary groups of the need to review their disciplinary procedures.

Disciplinary actions involving members are likely to face every sports organisation sooner or later, and potentially impact on WA’s more than 16,000 incorporated clubs and associations.

Many of these sporting organisations, however, still do not have formal disciplinary procedures in their constitutions.

Others may have formal disciplinary procedures, but these probably do not comply with the requirements of “natural justice”.

Any disciplinary procedures should be clearly set out in the group’s constitution, but may also be contained within codes of conduct.

Where individuals are employed by the group, a similar clause should always be included in the contract of service.

How many local sporting and community groups have any discipl-inary procedures in their constitution is not certain.

However, given that the Assoc-iations Incorporation Act 1987 (WA) gives no guidance on the matter, it is likely that most groups have no procedures at all.

Faced with a disciplinary matter with no constitutional guidelines, the prospect of legal action becomes very real, particularly where a person’s livelihood is concerned.

And should a management comm-ittee act outside of their constitution, the members may be personally liable for their actions without indemnity from the group’s funds or insurances.

People should not think that such matters are only relevant to large organisations such as the ACB. They are issues that are every bit as relevant even to the local toy-library.

Management committee members of sporting and other community groups should also be aware that proposed changes to the Associations Incorpor-ation Act 1987 (WA) will actually make it easier for lawsuits to be brought than is presently the case.

* Colin Huntly is a clubs expert and sports administration senior lecturer in the School of Business Law at Curtin Business School. Tel: 9266 3879 - E-mail:

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