The most common and appropriate legal vehicle for an association of AABAT’s size and intended actions including national representation is a public company limited by guarantee (CLG). As opposed to an incorporated association, a CLG is registered under commonwealth legislation and is governed by the Corporations Act 2001 (Cwth) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).
Most of AABAT’s professional peers operate through a CLG legal structure, including Australian Psychological Society (APS), the Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW), Outdoors NSW & ACT and Outdoors Victoria.
As AABAT increasingly engages with federal legislators, regulators, and national bodies, such as commonwealth departments and health insurers, it makes sense that its legal structure also reflects that of a leading national body.
Why change our name?
In 2018, AABAT was advised that considering an alternative name may support engagement with the government and attract greater funding. A new entity name will also support AABAT aspirations to broaden representation and engagement with the diverse communities of practitioners that sit under the broader ‘tent’ of outdoor and nature-based health and wellbeing modalities.
Our hope was for a name that (1) feels like ‘home’ for the existing community of AABAT, and inspires us to continue forward with warmth and integrity, (2) extends an invitation to the ‘wider tent’ of nature-based practitioners who share our values but don’t necessarily identify as practitioners of Bush Adventure Therapy and (3) clearly communicates who we are to the public, government and other professional bodies.
After much consideration, consultation and discussion, the AABAT membership has endorsed the name ‘Outdoor Health Australia’. Based on 3 years of sector consultation, trial with government policy makers, medical practitioners and the wider sector, investigation into the range of entities and names that may be appropriate, and advice from commercial and IP lawyers, this name seems to be our best fit for intended purpose, enabling revitalisation and continuation of our community.
What will happen to my membership?
When the change happens, all current AABAT members will become members of OHA. Members could then register their special interest in BAT and/or other practice modalities for example Forest Bathing.
What will the new governance structure look like?
The proposed new constitution can be found here. In line with legal advice, the new constitution has been drafted to be open and flexible where possible, to allow for the growth of the new entity.
The new constitution will have the flexibility for us to decide how we want our governance to look. A new governance structure has been drafted that takes into account our existing mechanisms as well as looking to other not for profit CLGs. Our intention is to create a structure that will serve the values of the organisation that we are today, while allowing us to grow into the future.
Who will be on the new board?
The existing committee will have the initial opportunity to transition to roles as the new board and board of committees, with some additional roles to be filled. In addition to the ongoing need for executive (leadership) team, and continued state and territory representation, current working groups may become formalised committees seeking to progress peak body status and functions.
BAT is a part of who I am and how I identify my practice. What will happen to AABAT?
It is critical to this transition that we continue to hold strong to our current community and hold space for the identity of BAT within any new entity. BAT practices and approaches will always be critical and core to the new entity. This opportunity will allow us to also hold space for other distinct modalities that don’t currently identify with BAT, and who may be looking for a home like our community.
Bush Adventure Therapy as a form of practice will become a represented modality within the new entity, perhaps the largest and strongest form of practice for some time. It will likely remain the largest represented modality, and practitioners with shared values and different practices will also have the opportunity to identify and engage with other represented modalities who choose to locate their approaches under the umbrella of Outdoor Health Australia.
AABAT’s existing ethics, values and intended actions will inspire us as the new entity – we will not compromise the shared values, community or incredible ‘heart’ of AABAT that has drawn so many of us to this space! A website focusing on and celebrating BAT will still exist, with acknowledgement and celebration of our history, and we expect there would be continuation of annual BAT Forums (focusing on strengthening the BAT community and practices) alongside Outdoor Health Symposiums (with a focus on government engagement).
What is the timeline for this transition?
Transitioning to a CLG involves a number of tasks which will be overseen by our incoming AABAT committee. The transition will likely take place during the middle of 2023. A more specific timeline will be communicated in the lead up to this transition.
How can I be involved?
As we progress with this transition, there will be many opportunities to be involved as a volunteer. If you are interested in this opportunity to learn, share your unique skills and work with an amazing team, please send an email through to [email protected].