Over the last few months, it has come to our attention that a few clubs had issues with non-members participating in club activities. Some may think ‘what’s the big deal?’ but a number of incidents could have been avoided if membership was managed differently. These issues have involved mainly ‘long standing’ members who have not paid club or AU Sport fees (and not been chased for payment by clubs) and incidents have included a ‘member’ being injured at a trial game and therefore not covered by insurance. Another case involved a ‘member’ not abiding by a club’s code of conduct and rules but the club had no jurisdiction over their behaviour.
It is important for you to ensure that your members are current and financial members for the following reasons:
Their membership fee is an income source for your club. You are providing a resource/a service and they are accessing this for free.
The AU Sport Insurance program will not pay out personal accident cover to any non-member. It should be noted that all University of Adelaide students are automatically covered by the University’s insurance program.
By payment being made, there is an agreement between the member and the club that expected behaviours from both parties will be followed (code of conduct and policies). If there is an issue, the committee can then address these behaviours and the member needs to adhere to them.
How do you do this?
It can take time and you need to manage the process in a way that best suits your club. For the AU Netball Club, if you have not paid fees by the fourth week, you can’t take the court. If you do, the game is a forfeit. For some of you, you may not be able to be so black and white, but what you can do is be very clear and strong with your current and potential new members, what is expected of them and when they have not paid, don’t let them participate.
The AU Cycling Club do this with a post in their facebook group which is only accessible to current members. They provide members with a couple of weeks warning and after a set date, if a member has not paid fees, they are removed from the facebook group. This means that this person has no access to current club communication and activities.
Tracking of member status
Now unless you have a good, organised, consistent system, this can be the time consuming element to membership management but the AU Sport Online System can assist with this data management and communication to members.
Come and Trys
Come and trys pose a tricky situation for you and potential new members especially when it comes to non-AU Students as students are automatically covered by the University of Adelaide insurance program. You need to think about what level of risk you want to expose to the club and how you will manage it.
Most of you offer a come and try for new members or for those of you who enter competition teams and hold trials to select your teams. What happens if someone gets hurt during this time? Are they considered a member and therefore have access to insurance? What happens if they misbehave during this period? What can you do?
Basically, a person is not covered by AU Sport Insurance until they pay their membership fees. Some State Sport Organisations insurance programs MAY cover ‘come and trys’ and trial games but you need to check with your SSO.
So how can you manage this?
Don’t run come and trys – but really, that’s not very welcoming
Make them pay a ‘come and try’ fee that includes insurance
For some AU Sport Clubs such as Water Ski and Scuba (ie high risk activities), we have advised/required that the club collects a ‘Come and Try’ AU Sport fee of $11 (each) and limit the number of come and trys to two opportunities. After the person has experienced the two opportunities, they must decide if they are going to join as a new member or walk away. If they decide to join, they just have to pay the outstanding balance to ensure they have paid $88. They both use the online system to manage this which helps.
Be upfront with potential members and advise them via a waiver and other communication that they are not covered by any personal accident insurance and that their opportunity to try out for the club is limited to no more than two (depending on best fit for your club) and what behaviours you will accept and expect.
You may think it is unlikely that a potential member will injury themselves participating in your sport but you never know and this is where you (the club Committee) need to consider the risk, its likelihood and the impact to the person and the club.
Our recommendation is:
Do a risk assessment
Decide what you’re going to do
Confirm at a Committee meeting
Provide communication to potential and current members
Collect fees via AU Sport Online System
Manage membership database and regularly check member’s statistics
Chase those who haven’t paid, but at the end of the day it is the member’s responsibility to make payment
Be strong yet understanding when it comes to non-participation until membership is paid
You also need to be aware that Personal Accident Insurance is not the only insurance to which you have access. Other insurances where you and your clubs are covered include:
Many of you require this to hire facilities or take part in your weekly competitions
Officers and Directors Liability
As elected officials at your clubs, you are all covered by this insurance. Which means that you, as an officer of your club, cannot be sued as an individual unless you act outside the scope of your club's Constitution and/or Committee direction.
Insurance Special Risks
In special situations and circumstances, the club can be insured for a short period of time, for an event or activity. For this to happen, we need to be notified of the activity (including equipment hire) before an incident occurs in order that it can be added to our cover.
AU Sport Membership
It also needs to be noted that the AU Sport membership fee for University and Associate members ($88) is not just for insurance. It contributes to AU Sport operations which you benefit from in the form of grants, electricity, water, facility cleaning, ground maintenance, facility development and website hosting among other things. If you were a community club, you would need to find the money to cover these costs.
AU students pay approximately $300 to the university as a Student Services & Amenity Fee (SSAF). Every year, AU Sport has to apply to get access to some of this funding pool and in 2018 we have been allocated 17% of the pool which equates to just over one million dollars.
So it is important that you support us in the need for non-student memberships to be purchased.