When establishing a non-profit organisation, founders can choose from a large range of legal forms. An organisation’s legal structure will determine the types of activities it is legally able to carry out and which government bodies it is required to seek registration from or report to. Cooperatives are one possible structure of a non-profit organisation. other types of legal structures.
Cooperatives are a form of organisation that are democratically owned, controlled and often also used by members. Cooperatives are usually non-profit but unlike other legal structures, are able to carry out some for-profit ventures and in some cases, if the constitution allows it, profits may be distributed between members.
As with incorporated associations, cooperatives are administered by state or territory legislation and the Registrar of Cooperatives in each state. The rules for cooperatives are similar but not exactly consistent in each jurisdiction.
Please visit the website of the relevant government entity below for more information on how cooperatives are regulated in your state or territory.
National regulations for cooperatives have been proposed and are under consideration by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). They may be implemented in late 2013.
This fact sheet is intended as a simple overview. Non-profit law is incredibly complex and there are many components, allowances, restrictions, exceptions and important qualifications that are not described above. Dedicated legal advice should be sought from a legal practitioner before taking action.