At the June liveWELL CQ meeting, Ian Dixon from Dixon Partnering Solutions posed some questions for us to consider about incorporation and had some suggested strategies should the partnership decide to proceed with incorporation.

I have posed Ian’s questions below and ask that you all make comment and start an online conversation around your thoughts questions, comments, suggestions, concerns.

I have provided the answers that have partly been developed through the various versions of incorporation documents circulated over previous months and in the conversations held at liveWELL CQ meetings or one on one.

Ian’s questions will be numbered in order that you can easily refer to them when responding.

1  Why would you incorporate?

Becoming an incorporated association would allow the partnership to seek investment to progress its priorities, to manage its own funds and will place the partnership in a strong position for place based solutions for future initiatives and reform agendas driven by government.

2  What would be the purpose of a liveWELL CQ incorporated association?

The purpose of the incorporated association would need to match the common and mutually agreed purpose of liveWELL CQ.

In the current Partnership Agreement it says:

  • Through collaboration and coordination, achieve better  social  and  health  outcomes  for  residents of Central Queensland
  • To develop strong and enduring partnerships for the effective planning design and delivery of sustainable initiatives, services and supports to achieve positive holistic health outcomes for the people and communities of Central Queensland 

This mutually agreed purpose would become the objects of incorporation:

Other potential options for wording could be:

  • To catalyse partnerships and assist in the development of collaborative delivery approaches to improving health services to Central Queensland communities
  • To act as an enabler
  • To act as a platform

3  Is incorporation the most appropriate format?

There are 3 potential options: Incorporated Association, Company Limited by Guarantee and Non Trading Cooperative.  Having reviewed these 3 options in some detail, the most appropriate model for consideration seems to be that of the Incorporated Association – this is an easy to implement and manage legal structure with low government fees applying.  Companies Limited by Guarantee require significant funding for ASIC fees, and are a more formal and regulated type of structure.  Cooperatives require members to pay for shares.

4  What is this incorporated body going to do?

The main purposes of liveWELL CQ as an incorporated body would be:

  • to manage its own funds and therefore pay for services directly
  • apply for funding for issues of shared concern – eg. Sector capacity building, funding for resources such as the drug support card to be developed

At all times liveWELL CQ would need to ensure that it is not becoming a direct competitor of its members.

5  How would this add value?

An incorporated liveWELL CQ would increase the partnership’s ability to be a highly visible advocate for the Central Queensland health and community sector. It would give the partnership the legitimacy to contribute to development of strategy in relation to new opportunities and policy developments and build strategic political, government and sector relationships.

Becoming an Incorporated Association would provide avenues to the partnership to act more directly with regard to the agenda and priorities that partners agree they would like progressed.  It would be a tool to enable the partnership to ask for a seat at the table, giving the perception of being a single entity, so that bodies we engage with feel that they are dealing with a single entity rather than a rabble.

6  Why does it need to happen?

With the cessation of CQ Medicare Local on 30 June 2015 and the development of the Central Queensland & Sunshine Coast Primary Health Network (CQSCPHN – which will operate a commissioning model), liveWELL CQ could work with the CQSCPHN to catalyse partnerships and assist in the development of other collaborative delivery approaches to improving health services to Central Queensland communities.

As a legal entity, liveWELL CQ could potentially auspice agency partnerships and collaborative working arrangements for various funding programs such as HeadSpace, Partners in Recovery and others including the Every Child Deserves Every Chance initiative.  Based on evaluations of other Collective Impact programs, a backbone agency will need to be identified and appointed and that organisation should not be a direct provider of services – this is a role liveWELL CQ could potentially fulfill.

7  What are the risks? (benefits discussed in questions above)

Members will need to be a formal part of the Incorporated Association and this risks some members opting out of the partnership due to perceived legal risks or lack of organizational support.

Annual Fees and work relating to financial management and audit including an Annual Return, are managed by small community organisations all over Australia, so would be a simple task for a group of professional organisations to manage.  There are potential costs of insurance such as Public Liability.

liveWELL members will each need to have this discussion with their Boards/Councils.  This could be supported by ‘deputation style’ presentations by other liveWELL CQ members or the Partnership Broker.  This discussion is actually a good thing as ultimately it builds understanding, buy-in and engagement by organisations as well as making them truly ask themselves why they would be involved, why the value is greater than they can create on their own and…

8  How would you manage membership and people coming and going?

The definition of membership would need to be decided by members itself.

From my understanding of the incorporation guidelines, we need to describe the type, eligibility/description and exclusion criteria.

I would propose that this be:

Organisational membership:

So each organization becomes a member, the description is: Senior Officer/Chief Executive Level with a maximum of 1 member? Per organization.

9  Would this change the way you do business?

liveWELL CQ’s partnering philosophies of transparency, mutual benefit and equity would not be diluted should the partnership choose to incorporate.  All partners would continue to have equal accountability and responsibility and each partner agency could choose to remain a member regardless of ability to financially contribute to the partnership.

10  Strategies for going forward:

Ian has suggested that if the partnership chooses to proceed with incorporation that it be as an independent body/ facilitator/enabler/catalyst/convener/platform…

 

Roxanne Hodda form liveWELL CQRoxanne Hodda has worked in partnership creation, development and maintenance for the last 11 years and her passion for partnering has seen her contribute to effective partnerships in areas including Culturally And Linguistically Diverse communities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people; healthy lifestyles; disadvantaged youth; cancer screening, prevention and early detection; education and training sectors and the health and community services sector. Read more about Roxanne here.