Association

History

Prior to the establishment of SMOOSH, many children at St.Mary’s Erskineville Primary School attended after school care services operated out of the current site of the Joseph Seargent Community Centre (at 60 Prospect Street, Erskineville NSW). The facilities of the Joseph Seargent centre were, and still are, owned by Sydney City Council. Around 2003, the Council decided to revoke permission for the Joseph Seargent Centre to be used as a site from which a child care facility could be operated. This left many parents of children attending St.Mary’s Primary School with a serious problem in that after school child care was desperately needed by school families and there was no alternative readily available to the community.

The parents of St.Mary’s decided that something had to be done and it was only going to get done if they did it themselves. And so those parents determined to establish an Out Of School Hours (OOSH) Child Care service to replace that which was to be lost with the closure by the council of the service operating previously out of the Joseph Seargent centre.

Structure

The “Founding Parents” decided that the new service should be set up as a special type of legal entity called an “Incorporated Association”. The existence and operation of Incorporated Associations is made (legally) possible under the NSW Associations Incorporation Act. This act is (now) largely administered by the NSW Department of Fair Trading and it is that government department that enforces, in the first instance, compliance with the provisions of the NSW Associations Incorporation Act.

And so it was that we, the St.Mary’s (Erskineville) Out of Hours School-Care Incorporated (SMOOSH) association was first registered with the (now) NSW Department of Fair Trading in 2003 under the provisions of the NSW Associations Incorporation Act.

The objects of Incorporation for the SMOOSH Association are as follows:

“To provide quality out of school hours child care services to students of St.Mary’s (Erskineville) Primary School

Even though we are a strictly Not-for-Profit organisation the association has an Australian Business Number (ABN) for various reasons including to facilitate government processing of Child Care Benefit rebates and for GST liability purposes.

It is also critically important to recognise that while SMOOSH and St.Mary’s Erskineville Primary School are both Not-for-Profit organisations and both serve the same community, the school and SMOOSH are neither the same organisation nor (even) loosely related parts of some wider legally recognised organisation. For better or worse, they are two completely separate organisations. St.Mary’s Erskineville Primary School is an instrument of, and under the direction of the Catholic Education Office. On the other hand SMOOSH is a completely separate legal entity that exists to serve the members of the (Incorporated) Association. While the parents of children attending St.Mary’s Erskineville Primary School are well served by both the school and the SMOOSH Association, recognising the differences in the strict accountability of the two bodies is critically important.

Governance

As is required under the NSW Associations Incorporation Act the day-to-day running of SMOOSH is governed by a “Committee” made up of members initially elected at an Annual General Meeting of members held during Term-1 of each School Year.

The Committee may be thought of as somewhat similar to the Board of Directors of a Public Company and the members are like the shareholders of that company. The committee raises capital, acquires assets, hires staff, sets objectives, directs achievement of desired outcomes, administers the financial affairs of the association AND it is the members of the Committee who are ultimately responsible for any failures — in the same way that the directors of a public company are ultimately responsible for corporate failures. Just like the directors of a Public Company, the members of the Committee of the Association are responsible for the good governance of the associations activities in operating consistently with the object(ive)s of the association.