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Curtin University
Secretariat

Good Practice Guidelines

The Secretariat has developed the Good Practice Guidelines with the aim to assist Chairpersons, members of University Committees, Committee Secretaries, Executive Officers and others to understand the role of good governance and to provide practical information on committee management.  The below are a snapshot of the information which can be found within the Good Practice Guidelines. 

All committee members are expected to act at all times in the best interests of the University, however, elected members bring a perspective to debates and discussions that is informed by their day to day work 'at the coal face'.  These members can provide a perspective on matters that may differ to that of the executive managers and other ex officio members. 

In accepting an appointment to membership of a University committee, an individual effectively makes a commitment to a range of responsibilities and duties.  These include:

Being informed

A committee's decisions should be based on a thorough understanding of the issues involved.  It is expected that a member's expertise and knowledge will be applied to matters that come before the committee.  Members should ensure that they are as fully informed as possible on the issues under discussion. 

Reading documentation and analysing of proposals

Committee members have a clear 'duty of care' to make decisions on an informed basis.  Staff who support committees work to ensure that agendas and supporting papers provide relevant information and are distributed in time for committee members to give careful consideration to the matters set out in the papers prior to the meeting.

The Good Practice Guidelines may assist in providing additional information on members responsibilities.

Committee members are expected to participate fully in rigorous and informed debate, and in the decision-making process at each committee meeting.  Members should prepare for each meeting by reading all agenda papers and preparing relevant questions or comments prior to the scheduled meeting. 

Should a member require information or assistance on any matter relating to the committee's activities, the member should seek assistance from the chairperson, executive officer or committee secretary. 

Members of a committee should:

  • inform themselves about the nature, operation and business of the committee;
  • seek to attend the maximum number of meetings possible;
  • act as a communication conduit for relevant colleagues about committee business (subject to any confidentiality requirements);
  • respect both the viewpoint of others and their right to express their own viewpoint;
  • observe the authority of the chairperson;
  • participate in discussion; and
  • genuinely contribute to a culture of cooperation, openness and learning.

The Good Practice Guidelines contain additional information on the role of committee members. 

The following membership types make up a committee:

  • ex officio  a person who is a member of the committee, due to the position that they hold within the University. 
  • elected  an appointment made in accordance with the University's election procedures.
  • appointed  an appointment made by a designated position or committee.
  • co-opted  an appointment made by the committee to provide specialist expertise to that committee for a specified period of time.

Participation on a committee should be a professionally rewarding, enjoyable and interesting experience.

The chairperson is responsible for the process of the meeting, developing the agenda and matters for consideration by the committee, ensuring that the meeting runs smoothly and inviting members to contribute to the discussion.  The chairperson takes responsibility for the decisions made by the committee.  Therefore, it is important for the chairperson to be clear about the committee's constitutional authority to make decisions on particular matters. 

The chairperson works closely with the committee secretary and the executive officer on the minutes of the meeting to ensure they are a true and accurate reflection on the discussion of the committee. 

The role of the chairperson is further expanded in the Good Practice Guidelines

The executive officer works closely with the chairperson and committee secretary to focus on the content of the meeting and communication surrounding the meeting. 

The executive officer is responsible both for conveying information to interested parties and for seeking information relevant to the committee's activities.  The executive officer prepares an annual work plan to submit to the committee for approval and compiles the annual report for the committee's review. 

Additional information relating to the role of the executive officer is outlined within the Good Practice Guidelines

The University committees of Curtin operate under the Council Standing Orders which articulate the rules governing the conduct of meetings.

Standing committees of Council and Academic Board and the sub-committees of the Planning and Management Committee will use these standing orders as a basis for the formalised aspects of their operations and processes, unless otherwise determined by the committee.

In practice many standing committees or sub-committees will operate at times in a manner far less formal than is strictly implied by the Council Standing Orders.  In adopting a less formal meeting style it is important that committee members are aware of the process and expectations on how the meeting is conducted to achieve the outcomes.

The Good Practice Guidelines discuss matters related to committee management in greater detail. 

The Secretariat has developed a number of templates to assist in facilitating good corporate decision making.

These templates can be accessed from the Templates page of the Secretariat site.  

The templates have been designed to be easy to use, with those sections which require completion highlighted in yellow.

The minutes of the meeting are a concise record of the committee's proceedings and reflect the resolutions of the committee as a whole.  A minutes template is provided as a model.   

Draft Minutes should be written as soon as practicable after a meeting and submitted to the chairperson for approval.  In the case of a committee chaired by a person who is not a staff member of the University, the draft minutes should be referred to the executive officer within whose ambit of responsibility the business of the committee falls. 

More information on the preparation of minutes and the minute taking process can be found in the Good Practice Guidelines.

The minutes of each meeting contain a summary of the discussions of the committee and the resolutions of the meeting.  The minutes are not transcripts or verbatim records and individuals are only identified by name or title when speaking to an item. 

Not all matters agreed upon at a meeting are recorded in the minutes as resolutions.  The text of the minutes may also record a matter that does not require specific resolution but for which there has been a general consensus that action may be taken.  This may be the case where there is a variation to the recommendation put forward as part of the agenda, or as a result of a new matter being raised at the meeting. 

When taking minutes, listen actively, think critically to decide what needs to be recorded and write accurately and concisely in simple language. 

More information on the taking of minutes is available in the Good Practice Guidelines.   

If you would like to discuss minute taking with a member of the Secretariat, please email our team.

Meetings, when planned properly, can make a significant contribution to the University's effectiveness.  They can be a good way to give staff information; they can be used to gather information from stakeholders; they can be used to achieve a consensus; they can be used to build team cohesion and they can be used for decision making.

Meetings, when not planned properly, can waste time and drain the University's resources. 

An effective meeting requires planning for both the meeting leader (chair) and other participants.  Why meet? How to hold a good meeting may assist in your meeting planning and conduct.

 

From time to time, it is necessary to create a special purpose working party/committee to investigate and respond to a particular issue.  This working party/committee should exist for a defined period of time necessary to respond to the issue and should report regularly on their progression.

To ensure an effective working party/committee, it is necessary to ensure the terms of reference that governs its scope, operation and membership is created.  The terms of reference specifies the tasks the working party is required to undertake and who is required to contribute.

The terms of reference would normally specify:

  • the functions of the committee
  • the committees mode of operation
  • the membership of the committee
  • the positions which have rights of audience and debate at meetings
  • the position which is to service the committee or the area responsible for allocating the committee secretary

More information on terms of reference of constitutions can be found within the Good Practice Guidelines.