Key Points

  • Board and Committee members are required to adhere to rules and to make sure others do too
  • Some rules are internal such as those laid out in the Constitution
  • Other rules are external and include government legislation, regulations and policies

Once you are a Board or Committee member of an organisation you do become responsible for adhering to laws and rules, and for making sure others do too.  Some rules are internal, like the rules about how the organisation will be run as set out in the organisation’s Constitution.  Other rules are external and include legislation, regulations and government policies. 

Many laws apply to every organisation. Examples of this include laws about health and safety, taxation, contracts, financials, privacy, data, cybersecurity and industrial law. Other laws apply only to some organisations with child protection laws and laws for protecting vulnerable people being examples of these.

Top Tip

You can feel overwhelmed when you begin learning about legal issues. However, as Justice Connect says remember “the vast majority of not-for-profit organisations carry out their activities without any issues”

If you are unsure or uncomfortable about a legal issue, put it on the agenda for the next Committee meeting and discuss it as a group

Want more? ... check out these resources

Article – Institute of Community Directors – 5 minute read


A useful overview of the legal responsibilities of Board or Committee members in Australia.

Guide Book – Not-for-profit Law – 109 pages


This comprehensive Guide Book covers the key legal duties of people taking on a Board or Committee position. It’s lengthy, so you may want to break it up into sections to absorb over a few meetings.

Article — Justice Connect – 15 minute read


Avoiding a situation where the organisation continues to operate or trade without enough money is a special responsibility of Board or Committee members which you can find out more about in this article.

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