Today’s question relates to the obligation of an RFS brigade to send minutes of meetings to members. I’m told that:

With the recent change in Constitution the RFS imposed I have a question regarding what the obligations are for a brigade in terms of access to Minutes by members.

Our brigade has recently moved from emailing a copy of General Meeting minutes to all members (including Life Members) to uploading them the MyRFS under Brigade Documents for the members to access.

It was our understanding that under the Constitution created for brigades by the RFS that there is no obligation to provide copies, unless a member individually asks and then they are to be made available within a reasonable time to the member to copy.

And that under the Brigade Management Handbook (section 15.9.1) by uploading the Minutes to MyRFS we have met the storage requirement for such documents and can therefore decline a request from a Life Member to send them an individual copy of all minutes each month.

In speaking to other brigades there seems a level of confusion as to what the minimum is that a Secretary must do in terms of disseminating Minutes to Members and Life Members.

Service Standard 2.1.2 sets out the constitution of the various RFS Brigades (see also Constitutions for NSW RFS brigades (May 21, 2014) but note that that post was written before the current version of Service Standard 2.1.2 which came into force on 20 December 2017).

With respect to the minutes, the current version of a Brigade’s Constitution, set out in Service Standard 2.1.2 says:

Minutes of meetings and other brigade records

6.27 The minutes of the AGMs, general meetings and executive committee meetings must be kept in a manner specified in the Brigade Management Handbook.

6.28 The minutes of the meetings must include the items specified in the Brigade Management Handbook.

6.29 The minutes of the meetings, copies of correspondence and other brigade records must be stored in accordance with the provisions of the Brigade Management Handbook.

6.30 Any member of the Brigade and the district manager may inspect and take copies of the minutes of the AGM, general meetings or executive committee meetings or other brigade record upon reasonable notice to the secretary, president or treasurer.

The place to look for answers is the Brigade Management Handbook. I can’t find a copy of that handbook online so I am not able to comment on it.  There is, however, nothing in the Constitution that says that members are to be sent a personal copy of the minutes.  The power to ‘inspect and take copies’ is not the same as the power to insist that a personal copy is delivered.  From what I can access it’s hard to see where confusion may lie but I’d be happy to comment further if anyone could supply a copy of, or a link to, the Brigade Management Handbook.

Post script

I have now been provided with a copy of the Brigade Management Handbook (2018) (thank you Kevin Griffiths) and it doesn’t say that minutes have to be personally delivered.  It does say at [15.1.4]:

Brigade meeting papers (e.g. previous minutes, notice of motions, financial reports, etc.) may be distributed as printed copies or by electronic means. Where it is appropriate and accepted by the brigade and individual members, consider the use of options such as:

› email

› closed groups on social media

› text messages on mobile phones

› the brigade web site

It is important, to ensure compliance with the Constitution that whatever method is selected for the distribution of the papers, all brigade members have access to such medium.

It follows that if there are members that cannot access material by electronic means it may be appropriate to send a copy of minutes by letter but there is no general obligation to do so.