Board & Sub-Committee People Culture

Purpose - Why do we have this policy?

Every organisation develops a culture of behaviours; sometimes it is written down, sometimes it is discussed and all too often, it is a list of unspoken rules that you learn after you have broken them. Here at Australian Street Aid Project, we decided to discuss and write it down.
It provides you with guidelines about acceptable behaviour in line with our people culture.

This policy applies to all Directors and Sub-Committee members.


We are committed to creating a positive, productive, and healthy People Culture to support our purpose, philosophy and goals.

What this means for you

You need to learn about our People Culture, your responsibilities and behave suitability.
This People Culture is part of your Director or Sub-Committee role.


All Board and Sub-Committee members are responsible for following our People Culture. The Chair are responsible for addressing breaches of this People Culture.

Board & Sub-Committee People Culture

As an Australian Street Aid Project Board or Sub-Committee member, you must:

1. Model professional and ethical behaviour
● Behave in a professional, friendly manner, act with integrity and make lawful ethical decisions.
● Be honest, open and constructive.
● Declare and effectively manage conflicts of interest.

Unacceptable behaviour:
● Using the organisation for personal gain
● Making unethical or illegal decisions

2. Practice clear and respectful communication methods
● Be clear and stay on topic.
● It's important not to use technical terminology or acronyms that others may not understand.
● Listen attentively and show interest during discussions and presentations.
● Respect the right to speak, disagree, or remain silent.
● Display respect to the other Directors and Sub-Committee members, acknowledging each person’s skills, experience, knowledge and responsibilities.
● Avoid giving offence and be ready to apologise.
● Avoid taking offence and stay open to the discussion.
● It is not appropriate to use meetings to demonstrate superior knowledge, intellect, or excellence.

Unacceptable behaviour:
● Yelling and swearing at directors or staff
● Closed conversations – not in an open forum
● Spreading non-factual information
● Inciting disharmony

3. Support efficient meeting processes
● Prepare for the meeting by reviewing relevant documents and taking agreed actions.
● Arrive before the meeting start time and be ready to start at the dedicated time.
● Switch mobile phones to silent. Check for messages ONLY at scheduled breaks.
● Emailing or other non-meeting related use of laptops / devices is not appropriate.
● When presenting or introducing a topic, assume everyone has read the Board or Sub-Committee papers and never repeat what is in writing.
● During discussions, three minutes is enough time to make a point.
● Verbally supported presentations should be limited to five minutes.
● 'War stories 'from the past are not allowed, unless the Chairperson rules that they are relevant and helpful to the discussion.

When attending meetings online:
● Join the meeting early to resolve any connectivity issues before the start time.
● Where possible keep your video on.
● Mute your sound if there is risk of distracting noises.
● Take steps to avoid distractions during the meeting.
● Listen and stay engaged in the meeting.

Unacceptable behaviour:
● Not reading meeting papers and other relevant material before the meeting.
● Arriving late to meetings and expecting previous conversations to be reviewed for you.
● Not actively listening and expecting topics to be re-discussed.

4. Practice robust debate and effective decision making.
● Be positive and constructive, rather than negative and destructive.
● Only disagree by making a constructive suggestion.
● Listen carefully to all ideas and comments and be tolerant to other points of view.
● Be sensitive to colleagues' needs for support when challenging or being challenged.
● Feel free to express a contrary viewpoint to the majority of members of the Board during the decision-making process.
● Board and Sub-Committee members should not be inhibited from expressing alternative opinions.
● Embrace challenges as a means of testing the robustness of decision-making.
● Act to ensure that no one becomes isolated in expressing their view.
● Treat all ideas with respect.
● Show determination, tolerance and sensitivity.
● Practice rigorously challenging questioning, tempered by respect.

Unacceptable behaviour:
● Yelling, swearing and bullying.
● Excluding people from decisions that are relevant to their role.
● Talking behind someone's back or about other people in a negative or non-factual manner.
● Speaking on behalf of someone else (putting words into their mouth).
● Making presumptions and saying that people said or feel things when you have no evidence to support your claims.
● Spreading rumours about directors, sub-committee members, clients or the organisation.
● Continued or regular instances of talking rudely or aggressively to other directors, sub-committee members, staff and other stakeholders.
● Not taking the time to read meeting papers and other relevant material.

5. Respect and support decisions
Once the Board or Sub-Committee has made a decision, accept and support the decision with grace, even if you disagree with the decision.

Unacceptable behaviour:
● Not constructively participating in decision making.
● Talking negatively about the organisation and the Board.
● Saying or doing things that are in conflict with Board or Sub-Committee decisions.

6. Learn about your governance role
We are responsible for effectively governing the organisation. Each person is responsible for continually improving their organisation governance skills and knowledge.
Australian Street Aid Project will provide you with the tools and resources to learn how to be an effective Board or Sub-Committee member, but it is up to you to access them and build your skills and knowledge.
Unacceptable behaviour:
● Not taking the time to read this governance material, meeting papers and other relevant material.

7. Work to resolve conflicts
If a conflict arises:
● Communicate with the intention of finding a suitable resolution.
● Address issues, not personalities.
● Focus on what is right, rather than who is wrong.

Unacceptable behaviour:
● Not following established conflict resolution process.
● Aggression, bullying,

8. Be involved in innovation and change
We can always find new ways to improve our Board and Sub-Committee practices, and every member has valuable experiences, knowledge and ideas to share.
Be prepared to listen and give things a fair go.
With new knowledge and experiences come new understandings; what we believed yesterday can change tomorrow. Be willing to change your mind, it could lead to exciting new possibilities.
Unacceptable behaviour:
● Saying things like "we have always done it that way, so why change it?"
● Sabotaging efforts to change and improve things.
● Not listening and taking part in discussions about changing and improving things.

9. Support a sense of belonging and fun
Each member is donating their time, skills and knowledge to the organisation. It’s important to build a sense of belonging, have fun and support each other whilst still being an effective governing body.
It's ok to share a laugh with colleagues. Remember to enjoy being you.
Unacceptable behaviour:
● Having a joke at someone else's expense.
● Mean practical jokes.
● Regular unproductive behaviour.
● Constantly distracting your colleagues.
● Having a joke or conversation in front of a staff member or client and not including them in on it.


Communicating the People Culture

It is the responsibility of the Chair and Secretary to ensure that all Board and Sub-Committee members are aware of our People Culture and the expectations of the behaviour of people working in the organisation.  The People Culture is communicated through:

  • Provision of the People Culture during induction
  • Discussion at meetings where necessary

Acknowledging the People Culture

All Board members and Sub-Committee Members are to acknowledge receipt and acceptance of the People Culture during their induction process by:

  • Completing the short online presentation outlining the expectation detailed in the Board People Culture.
  • Submitting agreement to the People Culture.

Consequences for breaches

Breaches of the People Culture may be considered serious misconduct with disciplinary action (which may include removal from the Board or Sub-Committee) may arise, following appropriate investigations. 

The process for dealing with breaches of the People Culture is as follows:

  • In the first instance, breaches of the People Culture are to be dealt with by the Chair.
  • The Chair is to apply the procedures outlined in Australian Street Aid Project’s Performance Management policy and procedures.
  • For serious misconduct, the Chair is to refer and/or discuss the matter with the Board or external authorities as needed.

Review of the People Culture

Ongoing compliance with our People Culture policy and procedures will be reviewed through:

  • Regular review and update of our policies and procedures, as detailed in the organisation’s quality Management Calendar.
  • Board and Sub-Committee empowerment through induction, recognition and participation.
  • Enabling Board and Sub-Committee members to report opportunities for improvement.

In the event of any conflict or inconsistency of information, the policy statement and details prevail over the “what this means for you” statement.