Governance concerns three key issues:
- how an organisation develops strategic goals and direction
- how the board/committee of an organisation monitors the performance of the organisation to ensure it achieves these strategic goals, has effective systems in place and complies with its legal and regulatory obligations
- ensuring that the board/committee acts in the best interests of the members
Sport Australia recognises that effective sports governance requires leadership, integrity and good judgment, through Sports Governance Principles. Additionally, effective governance will ensure more effective decision making, with the organisation demonstrating transparency, accountability and responsibility in the activities undertaken and resources expended.
It is commonly accepted that governance structures have a significant impact on the performance of sporting organisations. Poor governance has a variety of causes, including director/committee inexperience, conflicts of interest, failure to manage risk, inadequate or inappropriate financial controls, and generally poor internal business systems and reporting. Ineffective governance practices not only impact on the sport where they are present, but also undermine confidence in the Australian sports industry as a whole.
To operate most effectively, the Board should:
- Understand its roles and responsibilites, as indiviudals, Board/committee members and as a Board.
- Attract quality people, and have a plan fo how it will do this.
- Retain quality people by providing development opportunities.
- Meet regularly enough to perform its roles and responsibilities.
- Operate under a regularly reviewed constitution that is up-to-date and does not impeded the organisation from operating effectively and the Board from fulfilling its roles and responsibilities.
- Ensure that only the most important matters and powers are contained in the constitiution, with the remainder to be set out in regularly reviewed policies and by-laws.
Policy & Procedure
Policies and procedures (written and un-written) are used in an organisation to guide decision making and provide transparency. Irrespective of size, all sporting clubs should adopt a series of basic policies and procedures. Most of these can be re-drafted or directly taken from parent body documents at state and/or national level.
Your sport should have a set of these base line documents that all participants can refer to and usually would contain policies such as:
- Member protection
- Codes of conduct for players, committee, officials, coaches, spectators and volunteers
- Judicial process and Dispute resolution
The combination of these policies applied to activities at your club will also assist in dealing with certain risk management issues as many policies outline preventative measures to the issues addressed.
Once policies are in place it is important that they are regularly reviewed and updated where needed. If the policy is an adopted one from a parent body, then this review will include ensuring that the policy is the most recent one and that the parent body has undertaken the necessary steps of review.
Policies are only as good as the people who use them; the most common mistake made by organisations is not actively referring to their policy to guide decisions. The club should ensure that all committee members and club members are aware of the relevant policies that impact on their participation.
While the club might be a not-for-profit organisation, it is as equally a not-for-loss organisation, and the only sustainable way to accumulate and maintain sufficient reserves is for the club to avoid operating at a loss.
To avoid this, the club's committee should ensure adequate controls and reporting systems are in place to understand and monitor the club's operations, risks and finances.
To compliment operations the committee should also have a good understanding and management of the club's value proposition (how much members are prepared to pay for services), membership pricing structures and other sources of revenue, including minimising any dependencies on particular sources.
In identifying what financial reserves (or savings) are able to be used in unforseen circumstances, the club should distinguish between general and specific reserves, whereby the club may have covenants over portions of its reserves, eg. reserves which might be identified for specific purposes and need to be segregated from the general reserves.
In addition to identifying available reserves, the committee should also ensure adequate policies are in place as to the application of general reserves, eg. if reserves are used, then it should be to ensure the future of the club.
Good practice in the management of reserves should also include policies around how any free reserves are invested back into the club for development.
As part of the organisation's risk management process, it should:
Be aware of the environment it is operating in
This would include the:
Identify the risks:
- Sources of risk;
- When and where the risk could happen;
- The effect of the risk on the organisation's objectives; and
- Who might be impacted.
Analyse the risks
- Consider the likelihood and consequences of the risk happening.
- Evaluate the risks
- What is the organisation's risk tolerance, high or low?
- Can the risk be dealt with?
- Is it tolerable or intolerable?
Deal with the risks
- Select how to deal with the risk
- avoid the risk
- take the risk
- minimise the risk
- Remove the source of the risk
- Change the consequence of the risk
- assess the cost and benefits of delaing with the risk
- deal with the risk
Planning is beneficial to sporting clubs in many ways. The main aim of planning is to maintain a positive relationship between the club and its environment. Specifically, planning enables a club to:
- become proactive rather than reactive - to clarify club purposes and direction
- initiate and influence outcomes in favour of the club
- exert more control over its destiny - deciding where it wants to be in the future
- adopt a more systematic approach to change and reduce resistance to change
- improve financial performance and use resources effectively
- increase awareness of its operating environment (for example, competitors, government policy, threats)
- improve organisational control and coordination of activities
- develop teamwork off the field.
Without adequate planning, the club frequently deals only with immediate problmes and fails to consider future needs. Consequently the club:
- tends to function on a random ad hoc basis
- will never seem to have time to anticipate tomorrow's problems
- does not create conditions to deal effectively with the future.
Therefore, to overcome these limitations, a plan is necessary.
Successful clubs have good people doing great things. The people in your club, paid or volunteer, are your workforce and they are the people you need for your club to function eg. coaches, officials, volunteers and administrators.
If you understand your workforce, the number of people and skills required for the various roles, you are better placed to achieve your clubs desired outcomes.
Workforce planning is about ensuring you have:
- the right people
- in the right roles
- for the right time
- with the right skills, and
- at the right cost.
In addition to these factors you should seek out people who reflect the behaviours and attitudes of the club.
As with any planning process you should apply these best practice principles to your workforce plan:
- the current situation (current workforce breakdown)
- what you will need in the future (workforce breakdown to achieve desired outcomes)
- identify the gaps (what you need to add to achieve desired outcomes).
Sports visa fact sheet
Sport Australia has developed a Sports Visa fact sheet to help stakeholders effectively navigate Australia’s immigration and visa process.
The Sports Visa Fact Sheet assists members of the wider sporting industry to better understand the visa program, relevant types of visas for international staff, coaches and athletes and how to seek reliable advice relating to visa application processes.”