Melbourne Activist Legal Support Inc.

Rules

November 2021

1 The association’s name

The name of the association is Melbourne Activist Legal Support Inc., hereafter referred to as MALS.

2 Acknowledgement of country

MALS acknowledges First Nations people as ongoing custodians of the lands we work on, and that sovereignty was never ceded. We acknowledge Elders past and present, and honour the ongoing resilience and leadership of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

3 Purpose 

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) stands for political, civil and human rights. We believe community legal support builds stronger and more resilient social movements, which means a more robust and sustainable democracy; a more equitable and just society; and a more accountable and representative political system for everyone.

4 Objectives

The objectives of MALS are to:
  • support activists in defending their own civil and political rights
  • help maintain an open political space for protest in Victoria
  • rain and field Legal Observer Teams
  • monitor and report on public order policing
  • provide training and advice on legal rights, police powers, and activist legal support structures
  • develop and distribute legal resources for protest movements
  • maintain collaborative links with community legal centres, law firms and local, national and international human rights agencies.

5 Financial year

The financial year of the association starts on 1 July of each year and runs for a period of 12 months.

6 Members

6.1 The association must have at least five members.

6.2 Anyone who supports the purposes of the association and is over the age of 18 can apply to join the association as a member.

6.3 An incorporated organisation is able to be a member of the Association, but it must nominate an individual as a member to represent it.

7 Membership applications

7.1 A person who wishes to join the association as a member must fill out an application form and include their name and contact details.

7.2 The organising body can approve or reject a membership application.

7.3 The organising body will consider applications for membership of the association at each organising meeting and notify the applicant of its decision as soon as practicable.

7.4 If the organising body rejects an application, it is not required to give reasons for that decision, but it must return the joining fee (if any) and write to the person to tell them their application has been rejected

7.5 A person becomes a member when the Secretary adds the person’s name and contact details to the members register.

8 Membership Fees

Membership fees, if any can be determined by the organising body as required.

9 Ending membership

9.1 Members can stop being a member of the association at any time by notice in writing to the Secretary.

9.2 A member stops being a member if:

  1. the member resigns in accordance with these rules;
  2. the member ceases to operate in a manner that demonstrates commitment to the purpose and objectives of MALS;
  3. the member dies; or
  4. where the Secretary has made a written request to the member to confirm they wish to remain a member; and the member has not, within two months after receiving that request, confirmed in writing that they wish to remain a member.

9.3 Membership may only be revoked at an organising meeting, by a resolution involving consensus.

9.4 If a membership is revoked, the member may make a request for reasons in writing and may make a written submission to the organising body, which the organising body may take into consideration.

10 The organising body

10.1 The business of MALS is managed by a governing body referred to as the ‘organising body’.

10.2 The organising body will hold monthly ‘organising meetings’ to manage the business of MALS.

10.3 A member is automatically appointed to the organising body if they:

  1. have attended two monthly organising meetings in the past 6 months; or
  2. have been active in the organisational work of MALS in the previous 6 months.

10.4 Appointment to the organising body ends when a person no longer meets the criteria in 10.3.

10.5 The only offices of the organising body are the Secretary and the Treasurer.

10.6 The organising body is responsible for management of the association and can exercise all powers and functions of the association.

11 Appointment of working groups

11.1 The organising body can delegate any of its functions to a working group, as it deems fit to assist in the attainment of the purposes of MALS.

11.2 The working group will assist in particular areas of MALS operations as directed by the organising body.

11.3 The working group must make recommendations to the organising body for decisions on all matters related to the exercise of MALS powers and will not have the power to override decisions of the organising body.

11.4 A working group is comprised of anyone who is a member of MALS and wishes to join.

11.5 A working group may meet and adjourn as it thinks proper.

11.6 A working group must report back to the organising body at regular intervals.

12 Conflict of interest

12.1 A member who has a material personal interest in a matter being considered at an organising meeting must disclose the nature and extent of that interest to the organising body as soon as practicable at the next meeting of members of the association.

12.2 The member:

  1. must not be present while the matter is being considered at the meeting; and
  2. must not vote on the matter.

12.3 This rule does not apply to a material personal interest:

  1. that exists only because the member belongs to a class of persons for whose benefit the association is established; or
  2. that the member has in common with all, or a substantial proportion of, the members of the association.

13 The Secretary

13.1 The organising body shall ensure that a person is appointed as the Secretary.

13.2 The Secretary must be a member of MALS.

13.3 The Secretary must be at least 18 years of age, be a resident in Australia and consent to being appointed as Secretary.

13.4 Upon the Secretary giving notice to a meeting, the Secretary may be replaced at the next meeting.

13.5 The term of office for the Secretary is a nominal one year.

13.6 The Secretary must perform any duty or function required under the Act to be performed by the secretary of an incorporated association.

13.7 The Secretary must keep custody of all books, documents and securities of the association (other than the financial records held by the Treasurer in accordance with these rules).

13.8 The Secretary must keep and maintain a register of members in accordance with the Act.

13.9 The Secretary must give to the Registrar notice of their appointment within 14 days after the appointment.

14 The Treasurer

14.1 The organising body shall ensure that a person is appointed as the Treasurer.

14.2 The Treasurer must be a member of MALS.

14.3 The Treasurer must be at least 18 years of age, be a resident in Australia and consent to being appointed as Treasurer.

14.4 Upon the Treasurer giving notice to a meeting, the Treasurer may be replaced at the next meeting.

14.5 The term of office for the Treasurer is a nominal one year.

14.6 The Treasurer must keep custody of the financial records of the association for the current financial year and any other financial records as authorised by the organising body.

14.7 The Treasurer must perform any duty or function required under the Act to be performed by the treasurer of an incorporated association.

14.8 The Treasurer is responsible for receiving funds on behalf of the association and issuing receipts for those funds.

14.9 The Treasurer is responsible for paying funds received into the associations’ bank account.

14.10 The Treasurer can authorise expenditure by the association.

14.11 The Treasurer can sign cheques on behalf of the association.

14.12 Authorisation to sign cheques on behalf of the association is given by a resolution of the organising body.

15 Annual General Meetings

15.1 The organising body must convene an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of MALS to be held within five (5) months after the end of each financial year.

15.2 MALS may hold its first Annual General Meeting at any time within 18 months after its incorporation.

16 Quorum

16.1 No decisions may be made at any MALS meeting unless a quorum is present.

16.2 The quorum for any meeting is five (5) people.

16.3 If a quorum is not present within 30 minutes after the notified commencement time of a meeting, the meeting must be adjourned, and the agenda items carried over to the next meeting.

16.4 In the case of a special meeting—the meeting lapses.

17 Use of technology

17.1 A member who is not physically present at a meeting may participate in the meeting by the use of technology.

17.2 Writing includes email and other correspondence in electronic form.

18 Calling meetings

18.1 At least 7 days’ notice of all organising meetings shall be given to all members.

18.2 In the case of a meeting where a special resolution is to be proposed, notice of the resolution shall be given to members at least 14 days before the meeting.

18.3 If a special resolution is proposed, the notice must also include:

  1. the full proposed resolution; and
  2. a statement of the intention to propose the resolution as a special resolution.

19 Special General Meetings

19.1 The organising body must convene a Special General Meeting (SGM) if a request to do so is made in accordance with this rule by at least 10% of the total number of members.

19.2 A Special General Meeting will typically address specific business that has arisen and which should not wait until the next general meeting.

19.3 This request for a SGM must:

  1. be in writing;
  2. state the business to be considered at the meeting and any resolutions to be proposed;
  3. include the names and signatures of the members requesting the meeting; and
  4. be given to the Secretary.

19.4 A SGM convened by members must:

  1. be held within three months after the date on which the original request was made; and
  2. only consider the business stated in that request.

20 Decision making

20.1 All meetings shall attempt full agreement, incorporating all opinions (i.e. consensus).

20.2 Members shall check for consensus before making a decision.

20.3 As part of the consensus decision making process, each person must, when asked, give an explicit response from the following five positions:

  1. Full agreement and approval.
  2. Although not in full agreement the decision can be accepted.
    • Reservations need to be expressed.
  1. No opinion expressed.
    • The reason for this lack of opinion must be explained.
  1. Disagreement and abstention from the decision making process.
    • The member must state their reasons and commit themselves not to undermine or block the decision. The meeting will determine how to proceed.
  1. Disagreement and block.
    • In the case of a block the member must state their reason for the block and present a resolution to reopen the discussion in order to find a solution.

20.4 If a decision is blocked or there is stalemate a member can request a majority vote.

20.5 There shall be no voting by proxy.

20.6 In accordance with the Act, a special resolution is passed if at least 75% of the members voting at a general meeting vote in favour of the resolution.

21 Resolving disputes

21.1 If there is a dispute between:

  • a member and another member;
  • a member and the association; or
  • a member and the organising body

the parties involved must first attempt to resolve the dispute between themselves within 14 days from the date the dispute is known to all parties involved (negotiation period).

21.2 If the dispute can’t be resolved between the people involved within the negotiation period, the following grievance procedure must be followed:

  1. the party with a grievance must, within 14 days after the negotiation period, write to the organising body and any other people affected, and explain their grievance (grievance notice);
  2. the organising body must, within 14 days after receipt of a grievance notice, appoint an independent mediator to hear from all the parties involved and try to find a solution;
  3. the organising body must give the people involved reasonable notice of the time and place of the mediation, which must be held as soon as practicable after the appointment of the mediator;
  4. at the mediation conference, each party must have an opportunity to be heard; and
  5. each party must do their best to resolve the dispute.

21.3 If the grievance procedure does not resolve the dispute, the parties may seek to resolve the dispute in accordance with the Act or otherwise at law.

22 Funds

22.1 The association may derive or generate funds from joining and annual subscription fees, donations, grants, fundraising, interest, and any other sources approved by the organising body.

22.2 Cheques, EFT transfers or cash payments made from the association’s funds must be authorised by the decision making process set out under section 20. Confirmation should be made aware to the Treasurer and one member in writing.

22.3 All other financial transactions (including credit card payments) must follow the above procedure.

23 Changing the rules

Subject to the Act, these rules may be changed, added to, or replaced only by special resolution of the association’s members at a general meeting.

24 Winding up the association

24.1 To wind up the association, the members must vote for this by special resolution at a general meeting.

24.2 If the association is wound up, any surplus assets must not be distributed to the members or former members of the association unless the member or former member is an organisation which is described below.

24.3 Subject to the Act, any other applicable Act and any Court order, any surplus assets must be distributed to one or more not for profit organisations which share similar values to MALS.