It is a reality that, from time to time, disputes will arise within a club. It is important for clubs to have clear rules set up regarding what behaviour is acceptable and the process to follow when a dispute arises. These rules may be contained in the club’s constitution, by-laws or any other formal document that members agree to be bound by, such as a code of conduct.
What dispute resolution mechanisms are made available by a club will depend on the individual club’s needs and capability. However, it is important that a club follow its rules when dealing with any dispute.
Football Australia has a National Code of Conduct (available here) which clubs may rely on to take action where their members’ conduct is in breach of the Code. The Code of Conduct provides a process which must be followed before any sanction is issued. Procedural fairness should be given to any person who is involved in a disciplinary dispute.
Clubs should publish a clear process for their members to raise complaints about other members of the club.
Where a complaint is made involving club members regarding any football related member protection issues, clubs may find useful guidance from the process set out in the National Member Protection Policy (MPP). Clubs should appoint a Member Protection Information Officer (MPIO) who will act as a support person and provide information about the club’s complaints process. It is not the role of an MPIO to investigate or determine the outcome of a complaint. Further information about Football Australia’s Member Protection Framework is available here.
Wherever possible, less serious disputes that arise at the club level should be resolved at the club level.
Play by the Rules provides information and free online training courses to help club volunteers and administrators in managing complaints, including MPIO training courses.