See also our Top Tips - key advice for P&C office bearers in just 6 points!
What can we do if we don't have enough volunteers for our committee?
There are many ways to encourage new members:
- make sure your association is visible in the school community and has good communication with parents
- 'advertise' the benefits of being involved and the good that you do for the school (brag about what you achieved in the past, whether it be fun, community-building events or purchases for the school) - we have resources to help you promote your parent association
- adjust the workload and share tasks
- offer to train volunteers so they get something to include on their CV
- provide a good handover to help your volunteers.
If your committee is not filled, you need to let your community know what is needed and what the consequences will be if the positions are not filled (eg no Discos this year, canteen will close). You will need to hold a Special General Meeting or may need to wind up your parent association. Our Information Sheet on the Annual General Meeting has all the details.
What should P&C money be spent on?
For how long should P&C records be kept?
All P&C records, such as meeting minute and financial records, should be kept for at least 7 years.
If there has been an instance where the P&C has duty of care for children, these records should be kept until the child is 25 years old. For further information regarding record keeping when there is a duty of care see the legislation.
Is there a standard P&C constitution and By Laws we could use as our own?
How do we make a subcommittee?
There are two options, but first check your constitution for what is specifies and allows for subcommittees.
- If your constitution allows it, you can form an ad-hoc subcommittee. This can be formed at any general meeting. All you need to do is move the formation of the ad-hoc subcommittee and minute the names of people who will be members and also minute any expectations from the subcommittee such as regular reporting to the P&C committee, what they aim to do etc. If the subcommittee will be able to incur expenses, this needs to be minuted as well, along with a budgeted amount that can be spent without seeking further P&C approval. This type of subcommittee does not need any office bearers although it is good if someone can keep notes of the meetings and pass them on to the P&C secretary.
- Form a subcommittee which is named in your constitution. Members (and office bearers) of these formal committees are elected at the AGM and the committee should have clear terms of reference and financial and reporting requirements. Canteen subcommittees are typically formed in this way. Contact our office for sample canteen subcommittee terms of reference. There is more information on the operation of formal subcommittees in Information Sheet 25.
Note that ALL P&C subcommittees must abide by the P&C constitution and any financial transactions must be included in the P&C association's end of year audit. Also, the P&C President, or their representative, is automatically a member of all subcommittees. This facilitates clear communication and understanding and a good working relationship between the subcommittee and P&C.
Is our P&C a charity?
Only some ACT P&Cs are charities registered with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC). If your P&C is registered, you will have received regular correspondence from them. You can also check whether your association is a registered charity on the ACNC website – choose Search for a charity and enter your association name.
Note that P&Cs which are charities have reporting obligations to the ACNC.
Being a charity does not automatically make donations your P&C tax deductible. Find out more about Charity status and being a Deductible Gift Recipient in Section 16 of the Treasurers Handbook.
How should we manage a potential Conflict of Interest from someone on our P&C? (Disclosure of member interests)
Decisions of P&C Associations need to be informed, objective and fair. Member interests outside a P&C Association may influence the way a person acts, decisions they make, or the way they vote in group decisions.
Conflict of interest is now referred to as Disclosure of Member Interest in the Associations incorporations Act (which governs how P&Cs operate). It requires P&C committee members to disclose material personal interests. A personal interest may be considered material where it influences decisions or voting of a particular matter.
All disclosures need to be recorded in committee and general meeting minutes.
Members who have made disclosures must not influence, vote on or be present (leave the room or videoconference) while disclosed matters are being discussed; and this must be recorded in meeting minutes. P&C committee members must provide any changes to the disclosure of member interests.
We recommend P&C committee members err on the side of caution by disclosing interests.
What is Council?
Council (the ACT Council of Parents and Citizens Associations) is the peak body of ACT public school parent associations. We represent the views and promote the interests of parents from these associations to government. We also help parent associations to operate effectively.
How is Council formed and operated?
Council is a truly grass-roots organisation and is guided by the consensus of members. Each member parent association elects a delegate or two to Council. Delegates meet at regular meetings to discuss issues of concern and receive information of interest to parents. Once a year the executive members of Council are elected to progress Council business. Council representatives speak on behalf of members (to the media and at regular meetings with government), guided by a formalised set of policies on a huge range of issues. These have been agreed to at Council meetings over the years.
Council employs four part-time staff in the office who work under the direction of the elected executive. Office staff are available to answer enquiries from member P&Cs five days a week (contact details and office hours).
How is Council funded?
Council is gratefully funded by an ACT Government Grant, along with annual membership fees from our members.
Is our parent association a member of Council?
Yes. All public school parent associations in the ACT are members of Council.
When are our Council membership fees due?
The Council office prepares and sends the annual membership fees invoice at the beginning of July each year for payment by 31 July.
How much are the fees for our Council membership?
The fee is 95 cents (plus GST) for each enrolled student at your school. We use the school census figures from February to determine the numbers. This rate just increased (by 5c) for the first time in 10 years.
What do we get from membership?
Membership gives you:
- Access to Council's support services:
Comprehensive information and resources to help you run the parent association
Over the phone or email advice on any matters relating to the parent association from our friendly staff
Free training workshops for association officers and committee members
- Access to Council's group insurance scheme which provides insurance for your association at reduced cost.
- Free publications: Our quarterly magazine "ParentACTion" (delivered to all schools), and our fortnightly ebulletin "Council Communicator" (emailed to office-bearers at each school) are both full of interesting and useful information for parents and parent committees.
- Representation of the concerns of public school parents and parent associations to the Minister and Education Directorate, resolution of problems with the school/Directorate and input to educational policy and decisions.
- On request face-to-face meetings with your P&C to discuss any problems or concerns.
- Free attendance at Council general meetings with guest speakers on relevant topics of concern to parents.
- A regular forum to exchange ideas, network with other parents and share expertise or raise concerns with other parent associations.