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Constitution Review

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras is currently reviewing our constitutions to bring them in line with legislation and current best practice.

Over the past three months, August to October, a dedicated review committee has undertaken a detailed review of our organisation’s governance framework focused on our Constitution. A Board Composition and Diversity Policy with a sample skills matrix were also drafted.

The new draft appropriately modernises and is much clearer. The draft does not alter the basic structure of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Ltd (Company).

We invite members to attend the webinar hosted by the Constitution Review Committee on the proposed Constitution and provide your feedback through the Survey. See links below.

background

While an external organisation with expertise in charity constitutions will lead the review process, a working group, comprising of Sydney Mardi Gras members, has been developed to support the process and provide input and suggest changes to the constitutions.

The working group was formed through an expression of interest process and by the People and Nominations Committee, ensuring there was a diversity of views, backgrounds and experience represented on that group.

The working group will guide us in updating the constitutions to reflect the expectations of members in Sydney Mardi Gras’ governance. In addition, the working group will receive legal expertise to be guided by best practice constitutions for charitable organisations.

Through the Company Secretary, the working group will submit recommended constitutions to the Board and its committees for consideration to be put to the members for adoption.

WHAT IS A CONSTITUTION?

A constitution outlines the fundamental principles and current legislation that dictate how an organisation is governed.

Why does the constitution need to be updated?

Put simply, our constitutions, Mardi Gras Arts Ltd and Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Ltd, reference legislations that no longer exist or have been amended. These changes need to be incorporated to bring the constitutions in line with the modern governance standards for a charitable organisation.

It is also an opportunity to make suggestions that bring the Board’s responsibilities in line with best practices.

table of changes

The existing constitution for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras has been reviewed and updated in collaboration with the constitutional review committee for market practice, and to reflect your purposes and governance arrangements.

The Constitution review table is available here.

A NEW CONSTITUTION FOR MARDI GRAS

Just like our current Constitution, which was for and of its time, this new Constitution has been put together by members to enable Sydney Mardi Gras to grow into the future and continue to be a powerful voice for our community.

This is your Constitution. Review it. Ask questions. Understand it. 

The new  Sydney Mardi Gras' Constitution can be found here.

preamble

In Australia’s 60,000+ year history, 1978CE might have passed by as inconsequential. LGBTQI people in Australia know otherwise. Because we recognise 1978 as the birth-year of our first Mardi Gras. And while it was an arresting sight, it was arresting in other ways too. But you already know the Mardi Gras origin-story.

Defiance, expression, celebration, inclusion, protest, art, sex, love, and justice. Mardi Gras heralded the arrival of a people-led movement that wider Australia would not be allowed to ignore. Our time had come. We were visible. We would never again be unseen.

Through Mardi Gras we also saw ourselves. We saw our numbers, our diversity, our power, our beauty, our creativity, our potential, our humanity. We liked what we saw. We celebrated. We gained strength.

That strength underpinned our pursuit of social equity, fairness, and justice. It sustained us through the scourge of AIDS – we gathered and organised. Mardi Gras was central to Sydney’s world-leading response to AIDS. We prevented new infections and saved lives. We cared for our sick and dying. We grieved together.

The unifying force of Mardi Gras ignited our cause for law reform. With each annual Mardi Gras, we became stronger, more confident, more organised, and more determined to assert ourselves in a society that was brutally and irrationally hostile to us.

Before Mardi Gras, we were criminals, incarcerated for our sexuality – we were subordinated to an age of consent higher than our straight compatriots - our relationships did not exist at law – our love was trivialised and dismissed - we were ruthlessly and lawfully discriminated against in employment, opportunities, and services. Mardi Gras provided the backdrop and impetus to the hard-fought advances in our human rights. We honour our champions of LGBTQI rights. We stand on the shoulders of giants.

Mardi Gras is about LGBTQI visibility, creativity, celebration, commemoration, and protest - on our terms, per our aesthetic, and in our expressive form. We ditch vitriol for tact. We make allies in the broader community. And we are determined to have a rollicking good time! From that first celebratory parade in 1978, Mardi Gras has produced events that have inspired, thrilled, irritated, empowered, informed, explained, and entertained. Reaching beyond its LGBTQI constituency, Mardi Gras appeals to the intellect, decency, and humanity of a wider audience. We win hearts and minds. Australia is a greater nation for embracing Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras has evolved. It continues to meet the challenges of a changed and changing world. It remains the pre-eminent platform for LGBTQI visibility, creativity, celebration, commemoration, and protest. This Constitution marks a point in Mardi Gras’ evolution. By adopting this Constitution, the members of Mardi Gras commit to excellence in the ongoing governance of Mardi Gras. It establishes a framework for the responsible control and management of a Mardi Gras that is responsive to its members and to the LGBTQI communities that use the Mardi Gras platform.

A labour of love, this Constitution is the product of passionate debate, dialectic, and consensus. Conceived by Mardi Gras members, young and old, it enshrines the legacy of our past LGBTQI leaders; and it entrusts the future of Mardi Gras to our emerging LGBTQI leaders. By this Constitution, those leaders are enabled and empowered to shape and create a Mardi Gras of and for their times. May they always be fabulous times!

A PDF copy of the Preamble is available here.

BOARD COMPOSITION AND DIVERSITY POLICY

The Board of Sydney Mardi Gras recognises that people from different backgrounds bring diverse skills, knowledge and experiences that assist in decision making that reflects the diversity of our members. Accordingly, the Board is committed to promoting a culture that actively values those differences The Board believes that diversity on the Board is an important part of promoting a culture of diversity of thought and inclusion.

The SGLMG Board Composition and Diversity Policy (Policy) sets down the framework for the Board’s approach to diversity on the Board. The Policy applies to the Sydney Mardi Gras Board.

The Draft Board Composition and Diversity Policy is available here.

SKILLS DIVERSITY MATRIX

This is an example of how a skill-diversity matrix may be used to determine the required knowledge skills gaps in a Board to inform and invite members to apply.

The Skills Diversity Matrix is available here.

Template constitution 

The template constitution and guide have been developed by the ACNC in close consultation with the ATO, ASIC and a number of professional advisors.

Find the template constitution here.

The Constitution Review Committee

Members:

Jodie Camden 
Richard Davies
Joshua Kirsh
Sarah Toohey
Jane Marsden
Liz Dods
Geoff Mason
Jacqy Hardy
Ian Waters
Ali Saad
Kath Irish
Ross Aubrey
Gary Morrison
Greg Small
Mitchell Wilson
Victoria  Taylor
Ian Wood (PAN Committee)
Scott Blakeman (PAN Committee)
Patrick Ramsden (PAN Committee)
Charmaine Belfanti (Company Secretary)


This is your Constitution. Review it. Ask questions. Understand it. 

 

GOVERNANCE PYRAMID

Our Governance Pyramid is available here.

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