In your first year, it is recommended you have a group meeting each month (except possibly for December and/or January). After this, base how often you need to meet on the needs of the residents and the time required to successfully conduct the business of your group. Discuss with your LGA Committee or local Police any variations to the monthly meetings and future group meeting dates.
At all levels of the organisation, meetings should be carried out professionally, with courtesy and manners shown at all times to all attendees.
Meetings should be carried out following the same basic procedures to ensure proper management and record keeping.
The following steps should be adhered to at all meetings of the organisation:
- Venue, date and time of the meeting to be advertised to the wider community (eg via newsletters, LGA website article and/or event listing, email distribution lists, public notice boards).
- Meetings should start on time and good manners should always be used.
- The Chair of the meeting should ensure someone is available to take minutes of the meeting (eg the appointed Secretary or replacement if they are not available). The minutes should be a true and accurate record of the meeting and reflect all decisions made at the meeting.
- Heading should reflect date, venue and time of advertised start of the meeting.
The following suggested meeting agenda outlines a meeting that will be enjoyable and yet highly productive:
- Open the Meeting
- Introduction and Welcome
- Confirmation of Previous Minutes
- Business Arising
- Police/Crime Report (if Police are available to attend)
- Treasurer’s Report
- Incoming/Outgoing Correspondence
- LGA and State Reports
- Sentinel and Group Newsletter Articles
- Guest Speaker on a relevant topic of interest – if desired
- General Business (Including items raised by residents)
- Close Meeting
Try and keep formalities to a minimum. The meeting should run for about one hour, depending on discussion and guest speakers. If Police attend the meeting, rearrange the agenda to have the Police report at the beginning, as this gives the attending Police the opportunity to return to other duties if required.
All financial expenditure should be presented/discussed at the meeting and approved by a mover, seconder and carried before the expenditure is undertaken. This decision must be clearly documented in the minutes as this then provides permission for the Treasurer to make the necessary payment. This also explains in a transparent way why an amount of public money was spent on particular items by NHW.
Occasionally there will be decisions to make that are significant and the consequences can be far reaching. When these issues and subsequent decisions arise, they must be fairly discussed at the meeting, remembering that participants must show courtesy to allow all views to be canvassed. The Secretary must ensure the main points of discussion are noted and the final decision is clearly documented, moved, seconded and carried.
Such ‘significant decisions’ could be but are not limited to the following examples:
- Expenditure of more than $500 on a single item/activity.
- Proposal to seek financial support from another organisation.
- Closure or merger of a group.
Annual General Meetings (AGM) and Reports
An AGM should be held each year at which the committee is elected and the previous year’s audited accounts are presented. The financial year end is 30 June and the AGM must be held within five months of this date. From this meeting, the Annual Report for the group is to be completed and emailed to NHW state office. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
1. Groups to send report to LGA Secretary.
2. LGA to send report to NHW state office. (email@example.com)
Guidelines for Successful Meetings
The guidelines in this section are provided to give you some ideas in how to set-up and run group meetings which are positive, interesting and a success in achieving the aims of NHW. People need to have a reason to attend meetings on a regular basis – often they will ask, ‘What’s in it for me if I attend these meetings?’ Therefore, you should make your meetings:
- Visibly successful
- Well publicised
- Address the problems important to residents
Some common factors that have shown to decrease the effectiveness of the group meetings are:
- Meetings not commencing at the nominated time.
- Excessive formality.
- Low participation level and minimal delegation.
- Residents’ negative perception.
- Repetitiveness in meeting content.
- An autocratic and authoritarian leadership style.
- Comments that are defamatory, indecent, offensive, abusive, irrelevant, trivial or objectionable in language or nature.
- Lack of respect from persons at the meeting to others at the meeting.
- Lack of respect for the right of each person to speak and to hold individual views.
In order to overcome these, here is a list of suggestions designed to stimulate attendance and the effectiveness of your group meetings:
- Greet and welcome people as they arrive.
- If possible provide light refreshments, this helps to break the ice and encourages a team spirit at the beginning of each meeting.
- Commence the meeting by publicly welcoming new faces.
- Ensure the venue suits your requirements for size, seating, privacy and comfort. A school classroom or small conference room will have more atmosphere than a huge gymnasium. If possible arrange your seating in a way that encourages participation from everyone (eg round table or horseshoe).
- Endeavour to achieve some friendly banter going to and fro, this seems to do a great deal towards breaking down people’s inhibitions. They become more comfortable and more willing to participate.
- Have a whiteboard/blackboard available for use during ‘problem solving’ sessions, this assists in focussing attention on the current challenge and discourages the tendency to get off the subject.
- Nominate someone to greet your Police Liaison Officer (PLO), they often feel uncomfortable in front of groups and being met by someone familiar will help ease that feeling. Note their name and use it.
- Involve everyone in discussions, if residents believe they can achieve results by being directly involved, it will encourage them to attend regularly and perhaps bring others with them.
- Involve many people in the allocation of tasks. There are usually people with a lot of skills in a NHW group and these shouldn’t go untapped. Most people are willing to help if asked the right way. Your list of expertise and skills available will assist you to know who to ask.
- Involve your PLO in group discussions. This develops a sense of being ‘your’ Police member and part of the team.
- Make use of guest speakers or videos to add variety and interest to your meetings. Be sure they deal with subjects important and relevant to your residents.
- Always try to be positive in your communication whether oral or written. Avoid turning meetings into ‘whinge sessions’, which are counter-productive and discourage attendance. Recognition of effort and involvement is a healthy and productive strategy.
- Publicise your successes, people love to back a winner. If they believe they are achieving success they will be more inclined to support their meetings actively.
- Ensure meetings are purposeful and constructive. NHW groups are action groups not administration groups. You are looking for results, not keeping records or running a bureaucracy.