Sometimes parents will create informal groups to run social events and fundraising, without having a formally registered Constitution. These groups are not recognised by the Education Department.
Some Parent Clubs have not updated their Constitution to the new version published in 2019. To be recognised as a Parent Club by the Department of Education, these clubs are required to update to the 2019 version.
Parents Victoria believes there are very good reasons for having a formally constituted Parent Club, or updating your Constitution to the latest version:
- It gives the parent group more standing and legitimacy, and recognition by DET. The club can claim to represent all of its registered members, since it has a democratic structure.
- It provides a vehicle for all the parents in the school community to participate. Schools in collaboration with the Parent Club promote meetings, elections and events to the whole school via the approved communication methods.
- It gives the group independence, as Constituted Parent Clubs are not sub committees of school councils. Under a democratic structure it allows the parent community to share knowledge and expertise and make recommendations to support the school.
- It’s more likely to attract more people, which will help with continuity and sustainability of the group.
- While everything is going smoothly, a formal structure may seem unnecessary. It’s when things get difficult that being constituted is protection for the Parent Club (e.g. in the case of a controversial item that might need to be voted on. It’s important to know who are the official club members and who gets to have a vote).
- Funds raised by a formally constituted Parent Club are required to be held transparently within the school’s CASES21 accounting system. For an informal group there are risks, as exemplified in the next two points:
- Informal groups may not be afforded the DET policy protections which are in place for Parent Clubs. For example, the DET Policy and Advisory Library provides that, “Any unspent parents’ club funds should be included in the financial commitment summary at the end of each year and carried forward into the parents’ club sub-program the following year as part of the budgeting process. These funds are considered to be ‘committed funds’.”
- Formal recognition means the Parent Club is covered by the Education and Training Reform Regulations 2017. This gives the Club protection in certain circumstances, e.g. if School Council has approved a Parent Club fundraiser for a particular purpose, the Regulations state that the funds must be spent for that purpose; they cannot be diverted to other projects.