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A Legal Perspective on a Peak Body

10 December 2001 at 12:12 pm
Staff Reporter
One concern in the debate over whether the Third Sector should have a “peak” of Peak Bodies is - What would be its legal structure?

Staff Reporter | 10 December 2001 at 12:12 pm


A Legal Perspective on a Peak Body
10 December 2001 at 12:12 pm

One concern in the debate over whether the Third Sector should have a “peak” of Peak Bodies is – What would be its legal structure?

PILCH, the Public Interest Law Clearing House takes up the issue in our Pro Bono Australia discussion series.

PILCH’s Co-Executive Director, Emma Hunt says from the debate so far the idea of a Round Table model sounds like a good idea for the Australian scene.

Hunt says historically, Britain has a long tradition of using Round Tables but they have not been used much in Australia.

She would like to see more research into the Canadian Round Table option preferred by social researcher, Professor Mark Lyons and Philanthropy Australia’s Elizabeth Cham to see how people are represented.

The question remains as to what sort of legal structure or governing rules would apply to a Peak Body. Would it operate on a consensus model or demand a unanimous vote?

Hunt says a Round Table model doesn’t have to have a formal legal structure but simply operates as a function by which Not for Profit organisations come together to discuss the big issues and still maintain their identity.

Hunt uses the example of the way VCOSS (and ACOSS) successfully represents the welfare sector in the political arena with limited resources.

She says the work remains positive in a politicised area because it doesn’t matter to this group who is in government.

The Executive Director of VCOSS, Dimity Fifer says her organisation has developed a partnership statement with the “whole of government approach” in Victoria and its dealings with the Bracks administration.

Fifer says every government department deals with the community sector or volunteers in some way or other.

And as such she says the partnership statement calls for respect and recognition and the need to set up protocols with each and every government department.

Fifer says a strong community sector is vital and the time is right for a Peak Body to be worked out particularly in conjunction with the work ACOSS is already doing.

During the recent Federal Election campaign ACOSS, along with 60 leading agencies, called on the major parties to develop a formal agreement that better defines the Federal Government’s relationship with the community sector.

If you would like a copy of the VCOSS Partnership Statement send us an e-mail to

If you would like to catch up on the previous articles on a Peak Body, select “News” from the top line menu on our home page and search the archives in “Individual Articles”.

Why not post your comments on our Forum page at

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