Fact Sheet No. 08/2003 7 May 2003, Australian Industrial Registry

Registration and Accountability of Organisations Legislation Fact Sheet

Financial Reporting Process and Time-Limits

The Registration and Accountability of Organisations Schedule (Schedule 1 to the Workplace Relations Act 1996) [the RAO Schedule], generally comes into operation on 12 May 2003. The RAO Schedule contains most of the matters previously dealt with in the body of the Workplace Relations Act 1996 [the Act], which relate to the registration and functioning of organisations of employers and employees under the Act. The Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) (Consequential Provisions) Act 2002 [the RAOCP Act], deals with various transitional provisions arising from the introduction of the Schedule.

Steps in the Financial Reporting Process

The financial reports of a reporting unit must be prepared, audited, provided to members, presented to a meeting and lodged in the Industrial Registry within certain time-limits as set out in the RAO Schedule. These requirements are discussed below. The meaning of "reporting unit" is provided by section 242 and discussed in Registry Fact Sheet No. 06/2003 Accounting, Auditing and Reporting Obligations at http://www.airc.gov.au/legislation/fact_sheets/06_fact_sheet.htm.

Preparation of reports

1. A general purpose financial report (`GPFR') - that includes a committee of management statement - and an operating report (`OPR') must be prepared "as soon as practicable after the end of each financial year" [s253(1), s254(1)].

The time-limit "as soon as practicable" is constrained by the time-limit for subsequent steps in the financial reporting process particularly the requirement to present both reports together with an auditor's report to a meeting within 6 months after the end of the financial year [s266].

2. Preparation of a committee of management statement is required by the reporting guidelines issued by the Industrial Registrar under section 255 and must contain the declarations set out in those guidelines. The statement must be made in accordance with a resolution of the committee of management.

3. If the committee wishes to provide members with a copy of a concise report rather than of the full report it must pass a resolution to that effect [s265(2)].

4. The Registry refers to a meeting at which the resolutions referred to in 2 and 3 above are passed as the first meeting or the preparation meeting.

5. A statement showing the particulars of any loan, grant or donation of an amount exceeding $1,000 must be prepared in time for it to be lodged in the Registry within 90 days after the end of the financial year [s237(1)].

Audit of financial report

6. An auditor's report must be prepared, signed and given to the reporting unit within a reasonable time of the auditor having received the GPFR. The auditor's report must be dated as at the date on which the auditor signs it [s257(9)].

The time-limit "within a reasonable time" is constrained by the time-limit for subsequent steps in the financial reporting process particularly the requirement to present the reports together with an auditor's report to a meeting within 6 months after the end of the financial year [s266].

Provision of reports to members and presentation to general meeting of members

7. The reporting unit must provide free of charge to its members copies of the GPFR, the OPR and the Auditor's report (the full report) or (where the committee of management has resolved under the rules of the reporting unit to do so) a concise report [s265(1), (2), (3) and Reg 161].

8. The copies must be provided to the members of the reporting unit at least 21 days before presentation of the full report to a general meeting of the members [s265(5)(a)].

9. The reporting unit can meet its obligation to provide copies of the full or concise report to members by publishing the report in a journal that is available to the members free of charge [s265(6)]. In the view of the Registry a reporting unit may meet this obligation in whole or in part by publication of the report in a journal published on a web site on the Internet dependent on:

a. the extent of the accessibility of the members of the reporting unit to the Internet (see also Reg 18); and

b. that the members are notified by the reporting unit in the usual manner in which it communicates with its members that the report has been so published at a specified Internet address.

10. The full report must be presented to a general meeting of members within 6 months after the end of the financial year [s266(1)]. The Registry refers to this meeting as the second meeting or the presentation meeting.

11. Reporting units with membership widely dispersed should note that if the rules of the reporting unit permit a general meeting to be a series of meetings at different locations, the presenting of the full report to such a series of meetings will suffice [s266(2)].

12. A reporting unit may apply to the Registrar to have the 6 months time-limit for convening the general meeting of members extended by one month [s266(1) and s265(5)]. This has the dual effect of extending the time-limit for provision of documents to members by one month [s265(5)].

Provision of reports to members and presentation to a committee of management meeting

13. The full report may be presented to a meeting of the committee of management instead of a general meeting of members if the rules provide that a general meeting of members can be called by 5% or less of members for the purpose of considering the full report [s266(3)]. The Registry also refers to this meeting as the second meeting or the presentation meeting.

14. Where the full report is to be presented to a committee of management meeting, the reporting unit must provide free of charge to its members copies of the full report or the concise report to the members of the reporting unit within 5 months after the end of the financial year [s265(5)(b)]. A Registrar may extend this time-limit by no more than one month [s265(5)].

15. The reporting unit can meet its obligation to provide copies of the full or concise report to members by publishing the report in the same manner discussed at 9 above.

16. The committee of management meeting must also be held within 6 months after the end of the financial year [s266(3)]. There is no provision for extending the time-limit for holding this form of meeting.

Lodgment of documents in Registry

17. A statement showing the relevant particulars of any loan, grant or donation of an amount exceeding $1,000 must be lodged in the Registry within 90 days after the end of the financial year. Such a statement is not a public document but may be inspected at any registry, during office hours, by a member of the organisation or branch concerned [s237(4) and Reg 20(1)].

18. The following documents must be lodged in the Registry within 14 days after the presentation meeting [s268]:

a. a copy of the full report;

b. a copy of any concise report provided to the members; and

c. a certificate by the secretary or other officer of the reporting unit authorised by the rules of the reporting unit for the purpose that the documents lodged are copies of the documents provided to members and presented to the presentation meeting.

The certificate should indicate the date on which the documents were provided to the members as well as the nature and date of the presentation meeting.

This material has been prepared by the Australian Industrial Registry as a general guide to the Workplace Relations (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) legislation. This material should not be treated as advice on the circumstances of any particular case. This material does not have any legal status; the relevant law is set out in Schedule 1 to the Workplace Relations Act 1996 (the RAO Schedule), the RAO Schedule Regulations, the reporting guidelines of the Industrial Registrar issued under s255 of the RAO Schedule and the Workplace Relations Legislation Amendment (Registration and Accountability of Organisations) (Consequential Provisions) Act 2002.

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