Sports associations and clubs are in many ways like general NFP organisations. The general compliance requirements for any NFP organisation apply equally in the sport and recreation setting. However, there are some additional compliance requirements and concerns related to the activities they undertake such as additional insurance and safety responsibilities related to an increased potential risk of injury.
Setting up your organisation
Setting up a sporting club or association is essentially the same as setting up any not for profit. You need to make a decision about the best legal structure, what to name your organisation and agree on your rules or constitution.
Most clubs and associations will find that an incorporated association is the most suitable legal structure.
See the Starting a Not for Profit section of this website for more information about what you need to do to start a sports club or association or other Not For Profit organisation.
It is not a legal requirement to incorporate, but you should be aware that members and officers of an unincorporated association may be personally liable for debts or other liabilities. You'll find out more information about the responsibilities of leadership teams in the Boards and committees page on this website.
Do we need to register with a State Sporting Association?
State Sporting Associations (SSAs) are peak bodies for specific sports and are affiliated to their National Sporting Organisation (NSO). Your organisation will need to be affiliated with the relevant SSA for your members to be included in wider intra-club competition and receive wider benefits such as reduced insurance costs, facility development advice, sport development support etc.
The law does not require you to register your organisation with an SSA, however most sporting clubs affiliate so they can take part in wider competition. If you’re affiliated with your SSA, you may also have access to other benefits your SSA offers, e.g. benefiting from access to specialised insurance and other services.
You don’t need to be affiliated with an SSA to be eligible to apply for funding.
- see the list of SSA's on the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) website to see if your sport is represented by a SSA.
As for all Not For Profits, public liability insurance and directors' and officers' insurance should also be considered.
You may need insurance cover in order to apply for funding through some channels.
- see the VicSport website for information on how to make sure your insurance obligations are covered.
Leasing sporting venues
If you are setting up a sporting association you will probably need to hire or lease a sporting venue for events and training. Because sports inherently carry a greater risk of injury than other activities, insurance is an important consideration. You should also be careful about the arrangements to lease or hire a venue, to ensure that the arrangement does not put your organisation or its members at risk.
- see the VicSport website for information on obligations and considerations for lease and hire agreements.
Disputes and grievances
Disputes can arise on a range of issues in a sporting club or association. The Play By The Rules website has information on dispute resolution specific to sports.
Consult your rules
Most sporting organisations are incorporated associations. Incorporated associations are required by law to have a grievance procedure. For general disputes, you should always refer first to the grievance procedure in the rules or constitution of your organisation. If the matter cannot be resolved easily, you may be able to access the Dispute Settlement Centre Victoria (DSCV), a free dispute resolution service funded by the Victorian Government.
- see the Dispute Settlement Centre Victoria website.
If a dispute is with an employee and about employment conditions or dismissal, the Fair Work Ombudsman may become involved. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has useful information about your responsibilities as an employer. If you follow the guidelines set out in the employer section of the FWO website, you can reduce risk of a dispute or a damaging claim from an employee.
- see the employer section of the FWO website.
While the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 (Vic) is unclear about volunteers it pays particular attention to members of sport and services clubs. You must not treat someone unfairly or harass (hassle) them in sport because of a characteristic protected under the law. Sporting organisations are responsible for ensuring that nobody involved in sport is vilified, victimised or discriminated against. Sexual harassment in sporting clubs is also against the law. There are 18 protected attributes under the Act, include disability/impairment, age, gender identity, race, sex and sexual orientation, as well as personal association with someone who has, or is assumed to have, one of these personal characteristics.
In some circumstances, discrimination in sport is allowed. These circumstances are set out in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010 and are known as exceptions.
- see the Places of discrimination: sport page on the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission website.
As for any Not For Profit organisation, sports clubs and associations need to make sure that any of their workers who have contact with children have been through the Working with Children Check. The Working with Children Check is administered by the Department of Justice (DOJ).
- see the Who needs a check page on the Working with Children Check website.
Anzac Day allows Australians to solemnly pause and remember Australia's servicemen and women. There are restrictions around playing sports of any kind before 1pm on Anzac Day. A club or association arranging sports events to take place before 1pm on Anzac Day is likely to incur fines. The Sports and Recreation pages on the Department of Planning and Community Development (DPCD) website have more information about what sports activities are permitted on Anzac Day this year.