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Constitution Full Text

CONSTITUTION OF THE AUSTRALIAN SANGHA ASSOCIATION

THE NAME of the organisation shall be the Australian Sangha Association Incorporated, ASA for brevity, hereafter referred to as ‘the incorporation’.

1. THE AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

a) To serve as the representative organisation for the Sangha in Australia.

b) To promote the interests of Sangha members and the Buddhist religion.

c) To liaise with local, State and Commonwealth governments on behalf of its members.

d) To liaise with the media on behalf of its members.

e) To assist in the resolution of disputes between members, if mutually invited, by arranging for independent mediation.

f) To act in every way to protect the good reputation of the Sangha and Buddhism amongst the community at large.

g) To serve as a forum for the discussion of matters of common interest to members.

h) To promote the ideals of the Buddhist religion in Australia.

i) To promote respect and harmony among different Buddhist traditions, and to preserve the legacy of the Sangha.

j) To be non-political, ethnically neutral, and non-sexist in the determination of policy and in all activities.

2. POWERS

a) To acquire by purchase, lease, exchange or otherwise, land, buildings and hereditaments of any tenure or description situated in Australia and any estate therein and any rights over or connected with such lands, buildings and hereditaments and to construct at and/or maintain improvements thereon.

b) To purchase or otherwise acquire and to sell, exchange, surrender, lease, mortgage, charge or otherwise deal with and dispose of property both real and personal of whatsoever nature.

c) To borrow or raise or secure payments of moneys in such manner as thought fit and to secure same for the repayment or performance of any debt, liability, contract, guarantee or other engagement incurred or to be entered into by the incorporation in any way.

d) To draw, make, accept, endorse, discard, execute and issue promissory notes, bills of exchange and other negotiable or transferable instruments.

e) To enter into any arrangements with any government or authority, local or otherwise, as considered conducive to the aims and objectives of the incorporation, and to obtain from any such government or authority any such rights, privileges and concessions that are deemed desirable, and to obtain and to carry out, exercise and comply with any such arrangements, rights, and privileges and concessions.

f) To invest and deal with the money of the incorporation in such manner as from time to time may be thought fit.

g) To act for or as trustees and to do any act or thing in relation to any matter arising out of any trust and or funds that may be established for the benefit of the incorporation.

h) To accept the position of beneficiary of any trust and to receive any benefits arising from such position.

i) To enter into contracts with individuals or other legal entities for the promotion of aims and objectives, and do any thing incidental to such aims and objectives.

j) To appoint by contract, any person to any position with appropriate designations, to work for the incorporation for a salary, wage, commission or fee, or on a voluntary basis, and to delegate powers and responsibilities to such appointees, as necessary.

k) To do any other act as may be necessary or convenient, in order to achieve any of the aims and objectives of the incorporation, or to achieve any thing incidental thereto or to facilitate the execution of any of the powers of the incorporation.

l) To function as an autonomous legal entity in all respects.

3. OBLIGATIONS

a) The incorporation shall not be liable for the acts of its members or employees or contractors committed on their own accord, not expressly or impliedly authorised by the incorporation.

4. MEMBERSHIP REGISTER AND QUALIFICATIONS FOR MEMBERSHIP

a) Membership of the incorporation shall be open to any monk or nun ordained in the Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana traditions, or any other Buddhist tradition recognized by the Management Committee, who live a celibate life and who have resided in Australia for one year or longer.

b) Candidates for membership of the incorporation will be admitted to membership only after examination and approval of the credentials of the candidate by the Management Committee.

c) If the Management Committee is in doubt whether a certain applicant’s ordination should be recognized, the Committee should consult the Council of Elders. In making its decision, the Council should rely on the advice of those Elders who represent the same tradition as the applicant for membership.

d) A register of members shall be kept including the name, address, email address, and telephone number of each member.

5. FRIENDS OF THE ASA

a) The Management Committee may elect as ‘Friends of the ASA’ any (1) Buddhists who are not monastics provided they support the aims and objectives of the incorporation, and (2) those who are ordained in a Buddhist tradition recognized by the Management Committee but do not live a celibate life.

6. VOTING AND OTHER RIGHTS

a) Every member shall have the same voting rights, and any other rights assigned to members in general.

b) The exercise of any rights shall be in conformity with the tenets of Buddhism, Buddhist traditions and practice.

c) ‘Friends of the ASA’ shall not have voting rights.

d) ‘Friends of the ASA’ may participate in discussions at meetings and in the organisation of activities of the incorporation when required, in any nominated capacity with appropriate designations, and terms of engagement. However, ‘Friends of the ASA’ shall not serve on the Council of Elders or the Management Committee.

7. MEMBERSHIP REGISTRATION PROCESS

a) An application of a monk or nun for membership of the incorporation shall be made in writing and shall be lodged with the Secretary.

b) As soon as practicable after receiving an application for membership, the Secretary shall refer the application to the Management Committee that shall determine whether to approve or reject the application.

c) Where the Management Committee approves an application for membership, the Secretary shall as soon as practicable after such approval, notify the applicant of that approval and enter the applicant’s name in the register of members.

d) Upon the name being so entered, the applicant becomes a member.

8. MEMBERS’ LIABILITIES

Members shall not be liable for contribution towards the debts and liabilities of the incorporation, or the costs, charges, and expenses of winding up the incorporation.

9. DISCIPLINE OF MEMBERS

a) When any monks or nuns have conducted themselves in a manner likely to bring discredit to the good name of Buddhism, in the first instance, an attempt shall be made to resolve the matter by means of conciliation and conflict resolution processes, with particular reference to Buddhist traditions.

b) If the operation of Section 9a does not help resolve the matter, the Management Committee may elect to call a Special General Meeting, in accordance with Section 14 below, with a view to cancelling the membership of such monks or nuns if discerned to have conducted themselves in a manner likely to bring discredit to the good name of Buddhism.

c) In order for any decision to be taken, such a meeting must have a quorum as specified in Section 18d below and the decision shall be taken following a recommendation of 80% of the vote.

10. CESSATION OF MEMBERSHIP

A monk or nun who is a member shall cease to be a member if that member (1) dies; (2) disrobes; (3) resigns from membership; (4) is expelled from membership; (5) leaves Australia for a period of at least three years.

11. MEMBERSHIP FEES AND SUBSCRIPTIONS

There shall be no fees or subscriptions for membership.

12. MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

a) There shall be a Management Committee which is solely responsible for the administration and management of the affairs of the incorporation.

b) The Management Committee shall consist of four (4) office bearers and six (6) or more ordinary members of the committee, the exact number to be determined at the Annual General Meeting, or by the Management Committee at a subsequent meeting.

c) The office bearers shall be Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, and Secretary.

d) The office bearers shall include not less than one and not more than two members from any of the three main traditions (Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana).

e) The Management Committee shall have at least three (3) monks and at least three (3) nuns.

f) The Management Committee shall have at least three members from each major tradition.

g) No member shall serve as the same office bearer for more than two (2) consecutive terms.

h) The term of service of the Management Committee shall be the financial period defined in this constitution reckoned from the date of one Annual General Meeting to the close of the next succeeding one.

i) Any casual vacancy occurring on the Management Committee may be filled by the Management Committee and the person so appointed to fill such a vacancy shall hold office for the expired term of the member so replaced.

j) Selection to office will be determined by the process described in Section 15 below.

k) No member on the Management Committee shall be appointed to any salaried office of the incorporation, paid from the funds of the incorporation.

l) No remuneration or other benefit in money or money’s worth shall be given by the incorporation to any member on the Management Committee except for reimbursement of out-of-pocket expenses.

m) No member of the Management Committee shall at the same time be on the Council of Elders.

n) If a group of no less than four monks or nuns who are members of the incorporation makes a serious accusation against a member of the Management Committee, that committee member must step aside from their position until the problem is resolved. The accusation should be investigated by a commission appointed by the Council of Elders. If the recommendations of the commission are not acceptable to both parties, the matter must be brought to a Special General Meeting of the incorporation .

13. COUNCIL OF ELDERS

a) There shall be a Council of Elders providing guidance to the incorporation and its members, particularly in regard to matters bearing on peace and harmony, the honour and integrity of the Sangha, and the good name of Buddhism.

b) Such guidance may be given in regard to the management and operations of the incorporation, in the formulation of goals and policy, and in any other matters as are delegated to it by the incorporation from time to time, in this context.

c) The Council of Elders may make its own rules in line with this constitution, provided that due regard is paid to the decisions of members in general meeting.

d) All three major traditions – Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana – must be represented with no significant bias towards any one or two traditions.

e) Nuns should be adequately represented. In determining the minimum qualifications for entry, the Council of Elders should use affirmative action to ensure adequate representation of nuns when necessary.

f) When a member of the Council of Elders leaves, is incapacitated, or dies, the Council may elect another member of the incorporation in replacement, when a replacement is considered necessary. This replacement shall serve until the next General Meeting.

g) Working Group:

1) To carry out the functions of the Council of Elders, the Council shall nominate a Working Group from among the Elders.

2) The Working Group shall consist of six Elders, one monk and one nun from each of Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana.

3) No Elder shall serve on the Working Group for more than six years consecutively.

4) Within the bounds set by this constitution, the Council of Elders shall determine the responsibilities and scope of activities of the Working Group.

h) There shall be no limit to the number of monks or nuns on the Council of Elders, so that the number can float to suit needs and times.

i) No member of the Council of Elders shall at the same time be on the Management Committee.

j) The term of appointment to the Council of Elders shall be six years. After serving a six year term, members of the Council of Elders may stand for re-election at a General Meeting

k) For appointment on the Council of Elders, monks must have a minimum of twenty (20) years since ordination. Bearing in mind the principle of affirmative action (Section 13.e above), nuns must have a minimum of fifteen (15) years since ordination.

l) The Council of Elders must recognise that the abuse of power in any section of the incorporation is harmful, and should work towards its elimination.

m) If a group of no less than four monks or nuns who are members of the incorporation makes a serious accusation against a member of the Council of Elders, that Elder must step aside from their position until the problem is resolved. The accusation should be investigated by a commission appointed by the Management Committee. If the recommendations of the commission are not acceptable to both parties, the matter must be brought to a Special General Meeting of the incorporation.

14. PROCEEDINGS OF THE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

a) The Management Committee will meet together for the dispatch of business, adjourn and otherwise appoint and regulate its meetings at least every three months, or more often if it sees fit. The Chair at any time, and the Secretary on the requisition of any two members of the Management Committee, may summon a meeting of the Management Committee.

b) The quorum shall consist of four (4) members of the Management Committee. If the number on the committee falls below four, then the law relating to associations shall apply. Committee members may participate through teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other electronic means, and they shall be regarded as preesent at the meeting for all purposes, including making up the quorum.

c) Questions arising at any meeting of the Management Committee shall wherever possible be decided by consensus. In the event of genuine disagreement, questions shall be decided by a majority of votes of those present and a determination of the majority of members of the Management Committee shall for all purposes be a determination of the Management Committee. The dissenting views shall be recorded and minuted.

d) In the case of an equality of votes, the Chair is entitled to a second or casting vote.

15. SELECTION OF THE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

a) Office Bearers:

1) Any member of the incorporation shall be eligible for the offices of Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, or Treasurer of the incorporation.

2) Office bearers shall be elected at an Annual General Meeting, unless otherwise provided for in this constitution.

3) Any member may nominate no more than one candidate for such office and provide proof of that candidate’s written or verbal assent to such nomination.

4) If more than one candidate is standing for election for Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, or Treasurer, the person with the majority of votes of the members voting at the Annual General Meeting shall be deemed elected to that position.

5) If only one candidate is standing for election for Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary or Treasurer, they shall be deemed to be elected to that position.

b) Ordinary committee members:

1) After the election of the office bearers at the Annual General Meeting, six (6) or more members shall be nominated to contest the positions of ordinary members of the Management Committee.

2) Any member of the incorporation shall be eligible to become an ordinary member of the Management Committee.

3) Any member may nominate no more than one candidate for the Management Committee and provide proof of that candidate’s written or verbal assent to such nomination.

4) If there are more candidates for election to the Management Committee than the number of vacant positions, the persons with the majority of votes of the members voting at the Annual General Meeting shall be deemed elected to that position.

5) If there are the same or lesser number of candidates standing for election to the Management Committee as the number of vacant positions, they shall be deemed to be elected to that position.

16. VACATION OF MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE POSITIONS

a) Positions of the Management Committee shall become vacant upon the Committee member’s ceasing to be a member of the incorporation as in Section 10 (Cessation of Membership) above, or upon their resignation of their office by notice in writing to the Management Committee, or upon completion of the term of service of the Management Committee as in Section 12.h above.

b) Vacancies shall be filled in accordance with Section 12.i above.

17. POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE MANAGEMENT COMMITTEE

a) The Management Committee shall have the power to manage the incorporation, according to the constitution.

b) The Management Committee shall in no way interfere in the administration or internal affairs of any Buddhist organisation, group, or temple.

c) The Management Committee shall cause minutes to be made inclusive of: i) All appointments of office bearers and ordinary members of the Management Committee ii) The names of all members present at Management Committee meetings as well as Annual and Special General Meetings. iii) The business conducted and resolutions made at such meetings.

d) Minutes of each meeting shall be confirmed at the next succeeding meeting and shall be signed by the Chair of such meeting immediately after such confirmation.

e) The Management Committee shall determine the need to employ staff. Any appointments shall be made according to State and Federal equal employment opportunity, affirmative action, and industrial relations legislation.

f) The Management Committee shall establish sub-committees to administer such special business as may be decided from time to time. Each sub-committee shall report to the management committee as required by the latter.

g) The Management Committee may elect qualified persons as Friends of the ASA, according to this constitution, particularly section 5.

18. ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

a) The Annual General Meeting shall be held within five (5) months of the end of the financial period as defined in this constitution, in particular in section 21.a.

b) Notice of such meeting, specifying the day, the hour, the place and the general nature of the business to be dealt with at the meeting shall be sent electronically or otherwise to each member in the reasonable expectation that it will reach them no later than thirty (30) days prior to the meeting.

d) A quorum at such a meeting shall consist of 20 members or 50% of the membership – whichever is less. Members may participate through teleconferencing, videoconferencing, or other electronic means, and they shall be regarded as present at the meeting for all purposes, including making up the quorum

e) The Chair shall preside as Chairperson at every general meeting, but if the Chair is not present within fifteen (15) minutes after the appointed time for the commencement of the meeting, or is unwilling to act, then the Vice Chair shall preside as Chairperson. If the Vice Chair is absent or unwilling to act as the Chairperson, then the members present shall elect one of their numbers to be Chairperson of that meeting, a simple majority sufficing.

f) No item of business shall be transacted at a general meeting, if a member calls for a count of those present, and it is ascertained that a quorum of members is not present. The Chair shall thereupon arrange to restore a quorum.

g) The order of business at the Annual General Meeting shall be: i) Confirmation of the minutes of the previous Annual General Meeting. ii) Presentation by the Chairperson of the business transacted by the Management Committee since the previous annual general meeting. iii) Presentation by the Treasurer of the audited accounts of the previous two financial years. iv) Election of members to the Management Committee. v) Any other business.

h) At any general meeting a resolution put to the vote of a meeting shall be decided by a show of hands unless a poll is demanded by the Chairperson or by at least three (3) members present. Unless a poll is so demanded, a declaration by the Chairperson shall be conclusive evidence of the fact without proof of the number or proportion of votes recorded in favour or against the resolution.

i) If a poll is duly demanded it shall be taken at once and the result of the poll shall be the resolution of the meeting in which the poll was demanded. In the case of an equality of votes, the Chairperson of the meeting is entitled to a second or casting vote.

j) Each member present shall have one vote at such a poll. Absent members shall be entitled to vote by proxy, general or specific, through a nominated member or through a designated position, or to vote by post.

19. SPECIAL GENERAL MEETINGS

a) A Special General Meeting shall be convened whenever either the Council of Elders or the Management Committee thinks it fit to do so, or on the requisition of not less than one quarter (1/4) of the members or twenty (20) members, whichever is less.

b) A requisition for a Special General Meeting shall state the objects of the meeting and must be signed by those who requisition the meeting, and deposited with the Secretary.

c) If the Management Committee does not proceed within twenty eight (28) days after receiving such a requisition, those who requisitioned or any of them may convene the meeting provided it is held not less than three (3) months from the date on which the requisition was deposited.

d) Notice of such meeting, specifying the day, the hour, the place and the specific nature of the business to be dealt with shall be sent electronically or otherwise to each member in the reasonable expectation that it will reach them no later than thirty (30) days prior to the meeting.

e) A Special General Meeting shall be conducted in the same manner as the Annual General Meeting

20. FUNDS

a) The funds of the incorporation shall be derived from fees, donations, interest, benefits from trusts, testaments, deeds of grant, State and Commonwealth Grants and, subject to any resolution passed by the incorporation in general meeting, such other sources as the Management Committee decides.

b) All moneys received shall be deposited intact at the earliest possible date to the credit of the appropriate Bank Account of the incorporation. Receipts for moneys received shall be issued promptly.

c) Any cheques must be signed by any two (2) of four (4) selected members of the Management Committee.

d) A petty cash float of a maximum amount determined by the Management Committee may be maintained by the Treasurer, or a duly appointed Management Committee member, to enable small purchases as needed.

21. FINANCIAL PERIOD AND THE DUTIES OF TREASURER

a) The financial period shall be one year being the twelve months beginning on 1 January and ending on 31 December of the same year.

b) It is the duty of the Treasurer to ensure that all money due is collected and all payments required are made, and that correct books are kept showing the financial affairs of the incorporation, including full details of all receipts and expenditure connected with the activities of the incorporation as well as assets and liabilities.

c) At the end of each calendar year, the treasurer shall cause the final accounts to be cast, and copies distributed among members.

d) At the end of the financial period, the treasurer, if required by Section 22.b below, shall cause the accounts for the entire period to be audited, and the reports distributed among members.

e) The audit reports shall be tabled at the following Annual General Meeting.

22. AUDIT OF ACCOUNTS

a) The auditor or auditors shall be elected at the Annual General Meeting and they should be qualified according to law. They shall examine all accounts, vouchers, receipts, books etc., and furnish a report thereon to the members at the Annual General Meeting.

b) Audits shall be conducted as required by the law in the State of Incorporation; or if requested by the Council of Elders, or the Management Committee, or a majority of members voting at a General Meeting.

c) Subject to the following clause, notice of intention to nominate an auditor to replace the current auditor shall be given in writing to the Secretary at least twenty-one (21) days before the Annual general Meeting. The Secretary shall give a copy of the nomination to the current auditor at least seven (7) days before the Annual General Meeting. The current auditor shall be entitled to attend the Annual General Meeting and, if they wish, address that meeting.

d) Where the current auditor submits their resignation or notifies the Secretary of their intention not to seek re-election as auditor, the above clause shall not apply.

e) The auditor shall not be a member or closely related to a member of the incorporation.

23. MEMBERS TO RECEIVE NO PROFITS

The income and the property of the incorporation whence so ever derived shall be applied solely towards the promotion of the aims and objectives of the incorporation stated in this document, and no portion thereof shall be paid or transferred, directly or indirectly, by way of dividend, bonus or otherwise howsoever by way of profit to the members of the incorporation provided that nothing herein shall prevent the payment in good faith of remuneration to any officer or servant of the incorporation, or to any member, in return for services actually rendered to the incorporation or reasonable and proper rent for premises let by any member of the incorporation.

24. DISSOLUTION AND SURPLUS PROPERTY

a) The incorporation may be wound up or dissolved in the event that there are less than four members.

b) If upon the winding up or dissolution of the incorporation there remains, after the satisfaction of its debts and liabilities, any property whatsoever, the same shall not be paid to or distributed among members, but shall be transferred to a charitable organisation or organisations having objectives similar to those of the incorporation.

25. AMENDMENT AND INTERPRETATION OF THE CONSTITUTION

a) The constitution may be amended by a special resolution passed by no less than three quarters (3/4) of members present or voting by proxy, or voting by post at any General Meeting at which not less than thirty (30) days written notice of the proposed amendment shall have been given.

b) The Management Committee shall have the power to interpret any provision of the constitution provided it is done fairly and according to law.

c) For the purposes of this constitution, three main Buddhist traditions are recognized. These are: Theravada Buddhism, which follows the Pali Canon and the Vinaya lineage of the Theravada; Mahayana Buddhism, which follows the Chinese Canon and the Vinaya lineage of the Dharmaguptaka; and Vajrayana Buddhism, which follows the Tibetan Canon and the Vinaya lineage of the Mulasarvastivada.

d) For the purposes of this constitution, ‘monk’ means any bhikkhu/bhiksu, samanera/sramanera, or any other celibate male Buddhist monastic ordained in a recognized tradition. ‘Nun’ means any bhikkhuni/bhiksuni, samaneri/sramaneri, sikkhamana/siksamana, or any other celibate female Buddhist monastic ordained in a recognized tradition. ‘Sangha’ means all recognized celibate ordained monks and nuns.

26. COMMON SEAL

a) The common seal of the incorporation shall be kept in the custody of the Secretary.

b) The common seal shall not be affixed to any instrument except by the authority of the Management Committee, and the affixing of the common seal shall be attested by the signatures of any two office bearers of the Management Committee.

27. CUSTODY AND INSPECTION OF BOOKS

a) The Secretary shall keep in their custody or under their control all records, books and other documents relating to the incorporation.

b) The records, books and other documents of the incorporation shall be open for inspection, free of charge, by any member of the incorporation at any reasonable hour.

CERTIFICATION

I certify that this is a true copy of the constitution of the Australian Sangha Association Inc.

Authorised Officer: (signature)

Name:

Designation:

Date: