Working with local government
Your local government authority is a key stakeholder for your club.
A positive relationship can be established with the local council by understanding the role of local government as well as putting a few simple strategies in place to keep them informed about your club and its needs.
The role of local government
Your local council:
- Can provide ongoing advice and support for your organisation. Some councils have a Club Development Officer, Recreation Officer or Community Services Officer appointed for this purpose.
- May have funds available to assist in developing sport and recreation facilities and projects;
- may provide opportunities for input from sporting and community groups into council sport and recreation policies and issues;
- May have a club development program to assist clubs with their management and administration.
It may be helpful for your club to nominate a local government contact person who is responsible for liaising with the council. In the first instance, this person could set up an initial meeting to discuss how your organisation and local council could work effectively together.
The type of agreement your club has with council often reflects the relationship or philosophy council has with regards to its relationship with community organisations such as your club.
Common agreements may be:
- Leases – provide a right to exclude everyone including the landlord from a facility. Generally exclusive occupation.
- Licenses – Less than exclusive access and can involve shared use agreements. May be entered into for a specific time/day during a season.
- Permits – Normally for a 'one-off' event or activity.
While leases may seem the ‘best’ way to go for your organisation, you must remember that council facilities belong to the community and that councils have an obligation to manage so as to meet a broad range of community needs. Such a ‘clause’ will generally be included somewhere in most management agreements.
While this ‘sharing’ may be difficult in the case of your clubroom, it doesn’t prevent you from entering into sub leases with other community groups to increase use of your facility, share your overheads, and ultimately increase opportunities for the broader community to participate in other sport and recreation interests.
However, before doing so, contact your council’s property officer to seek permission, ensure you are not exposing your club to increased risk, and to help council keep a track of who is using the community facility and how your club is meeting broader community aims.
Responsibility and ownership
Within each agreement will be varying degrees of responsibility of council and you as a club. Commonly councils accept responsibility for maintenance and request a percentage to be repaid by your club-based usage. In most instances this is heavily subsidised but varies from council to council.
Councils will normally provide you with a facility that meets your basic needs. Any improvement that you make to the facility obviously needs approval and, (depending on the works carried out) will remain the property of council once your management agreement expires. If you are unsure as to your responsibility and ownership of improvements, refer to the council’s property officer and/or your management
The following are strategies for establishing a good relationship with your local government:
- Get to know your council through elected members, senior officers and recreation and maintenance staff.
- Invite council representatives to club functions, being hospitable, asking them to present trophies and, most importantly, show appreciation for the services they provide.
- Understand the challenges that your council faces and help them with issues that affect your club.
- Offer to assist in coaching and recreation programs of the Council and your state association.
- Acknowledge your council whenever you can, particularly in any public arena.
- Don't complain, but rather approach problems constructively and seek "win-win" solutions.
- Encourage a variety of community groups to take an interest in your sport by inviting them to participate in club activities.
- Insist on good behaviour, both on and off the field, displaying good sportsmanship and avoiding bad language.
- Be good neighbours and form relationships with those who own property adjacent to your ground (complaints to the council will tarnish your image immediately).
- Establish positive public relations by appointing one of your members to carry out a defined liaison role with the council.
- Actively engage in any club development programs or community events offered by your council.