CONSTITUTION OF THE AUSTRALIAN MENTAL HEALTH PARTY

This Constitution was adopted at the Annual General Meeting of the Australian Mental Health Party Western Australia held in Fremantle Western Australia on the 18th of October 2014.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Charter
Mission Statement of the Australian Mental Health Party

1. Identity
2. Party Structure
3. Policy Adoption
4. Members Financial Structure
5. Selection of Candidates for elections
6. Meetings
7. Proxies
8. Communications
9. Membership
10. Sub-branches
11. Winding up
12. Grievances Disputes and Appeals
13. Conduct of Parliamentary Representatives
14. Conduct of Members
15. Definitions

CHARTER

The Australian Mental Health Party is an independent political party representing the needs of people who live with a mental health condition or experience psychological distress. The Australian Mental Health Party extends to the needs and the perspectives of family, friends, and loved ones, as well as the mental health care practitioners, health professionals, communities, groups and workplaces that people interact with.

To achieve these aims we will seek the election to the Commonwealth in sufficient numbers to form governments, of endorsed Party members committed to Party objectives.

We will work with the democratically elected majority government to secure improvement in mental health services for all Australians, and to promote and encourage a more humane treatment for all who uses these services.

We are committed to providing a political platform for the many non-government mental health organisations so that the mental health of Australia can improve from the current high levels.

MISSION STATEMENT

The Australian Mental Health Party will work with health care professionals, non-government affiliated organisations and those who have a mental health condition and their loved ones to improve the representation of all parties at a political level. We will work co-operatively with the government of the day but at all times set out to achieve the best possible outcomes for our members and support base.

We will seek to ensure a whole-of government approach to those that have a mental health condition and their carers.

We will seek to increase both State and Federal funding allocation to support all Australians who consume Mental Health Services, including their loved ones, families, and their carers.

We will seek to request for an increase in expenditure for all non-government mental health organisations and expect to represent many of these organisation within our political platform.

We will seek an increase in the number of beds and trained staff for inpatients in all Australian Mental Health Care Settings.

We will seek to nurture and monitor the National Mental Health Plan and all relevant Bills and amendments to legislation.

We will seek to increase the long term availability of Community Nurses with a key emphasis on vocational and education rehabilitation. Counselling is a basic need.

We will seek for an increased subsidisation for the associated prescribed pharmaceuticals that are necessary for ongoing long term rehabilitation and stabilisation.

The Australian Mental Health Party will provide all Australians who have a mental health condition a voice through which it can make itself heard and in doing so adhere to the democratic principles which are the fundamental right of all Australians.

The Australian Mental Health Party will seek to promote and enhance this fundamental need and seek to influence the political process.

1. IDENTITY

1.1 The name of the Party is the Australian Mental Health Party, herein called “AMHP”.

1.2 This constitution identifies the principles governing the conduct of the Party’s affairs and the bodies responsible for implementing them.

1.3 All other party documents are subordinate to this constitution.

2. PARTY STRUCTURE

2.1 AMHP consists of an Executive and any number of sub-branches.

2.1.1 Members may be a member of the party without being a member of a sub-branch.

2.1.2 Members may only be a member of one sub-branch and resign from one sub-branch before joining another sub-branch. The AMHP has an Executive Committee of no than 10 members with no more than any three (3) members of the Executive normally resident in the same postal code.

2.1.3 The Annual General Meeting will decide the number of the members of the Executive.

2.2 The AMHP Executive Roles and Responsibilities:

2.2.1 To direct, organise and co-ordinate as required by the membership, the policies, functions and administration of the party, in accordance with the constitution.

2.2.2 To employ persons, contractors or consultants to carry out the work of the party.

2.2.3 To responsibly manage and conservatively invest the funds of the party.

2.2.4 The AMHP Executive is not precluded from expending amounts from the party’s reserve funds to meet ordinary running expenses of the party. This may include: Legal expenses, General Federal Election expenses, General Administration cost and investments.

2.2.5 To cause an Annual General Meeting and other meetings as required in this constitution and as expected of sound management practices.

2.3 The AMHP Executive shall have a minimum of five (5) office bearers; being the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary, Registered Officer and Party Agent elected at the Annual General Meeting (AGM).

2.3.1 The Annual General Meeting shall decide other roles within the Executive which may include membership officer, fundraising officer, elections officer and other specific officers as agreed by the Meeting and the general members of the Executive.

3. POLICY ADOPTION

3.1 Policies shall be formulated with the maximum participation of members and shall finally be determined by the direct and equal say of the membership.

3.2 Policy shall be determined by a simple majority at an Annual General Meeting or special meeting.

3.3 Policy petitions are to be submitted to the Secretary in writing or as agenda items for discussion at the Annual General Meeting or special meeting.

3.4 All financial members of the Party may attend or vote by proxy at the Annual General Meeting for election of the Executive committee and the office bearers by show of hands and simple majority decision with due reference to the constitution.

3.5 The Executive will finalise all matters of policy after due consultation with members and where appropriate policy will be forwarded to the national body requesting adoption as national policy.

3.6 Emergency policy decisions can be made by the Executive. Any such decision shall be submitted for ratification by special meeting within two months. The Executive shall not make any emergency policy decision which contradicts any Executive shall not make any emergency policy decision which contradicts any policy of the Party already approved by a vote of members.

4. FINANCIAL STRUCTURE

4.1 The AMHP will raise funds via membership, private and corporate donation and fundraising events and activities, as well as return on investments.

4.2 The party shall abide by all relevant laws including employment laws, electoral and association laws.

4.3 All funds raised are to be paid into a bank account in the name of The Australian Mental Health Party as approved by the Executive and receipts issued for all funds received.

4.4 All withdrawals or transfers from the AMHP account will require the signature of two (2) of three (3) nominated Executive members as agreed by the Executive.

4.5 The Party Agent will keep proper records in accordance with accepted accounting principles.

4.6 The Party Agent shall provide regular financial reports on a timely basis as directed by the Executive and shall immediately report any matters of concern.

4.7 All AMHP funds are to be conservatively invested. Example: Deposits in Australian banks in Australian currency would be the most common form of investment and equity investments would normally be avoided. The exception may be the purchase of a building to house the administrative functions of the party: The AMHP House.

4.8 All members of the Executive are voluntary and unpaid positions with reasonable expenses paid for duties undertaken on behalf of the AMHP.

4.9 An Executive officer and administrative staff, contractors and consultants may be employed or contracted at the discretion of the Executive and said persons may attend and report to Executive meetings but will not have voting rights on the Executive.

4.10 All funds raised through donation, membership fees, bank interest or any other means are to be applied to further the goals of the AMHP as contained in this constitution, charter, mission statement and policies.

4.11 The membership fee and term of membership may be varied by a decision of the Executive without amendment to this constitution. No such decision shall be retrospective. Nothing in this paragraph limits the expulsion of a member as per this constitution.

5. SELECTION OF CANDIDATES

5.1 Preselection of candidate(s) to stand for the Federal House of Representative and Senate seats are made by a selection committee consisting of no less than three (3) members of the Executive.

5.2 The Secretary shall call for nominations and give sufficient time for nominations to be received, bearing in mind the election timeframe.

5.3 Nominees for pre-selection must be nominated by no less than ten (10) current voting members of the party.

5.4 Nominees for preselection must be available for an interview by the preselection committee and be of good character. Nominees should demonstrate an understanding of mental health issues , have political acumen in addition to written and verbal communication skills.

5.5 A person preselected by the sub-branch becomes a Candidate after endorsement by the AMHP selection committee, such notification to be made by letter.

5.6 Any member of the Executive must stand down his/her position once nominated for preselection as a candidate.

5.7 No nominee presented to the selection panel may also sit on the selection panel.

5.8 Casual Senate vacancy

5.8.1 Where the Party is required to present a nomination to the State Governor for the filling of a casual Senate vacancy, the procedures given in this Constitution for the selection of Senate candidates shall apply.

5.8.2 If an absolute majority of the Executive determines that there is insufficient time to hold a ballot of members, the casual Senate vacancy shall be filled by a recount of the most recent party ballot for a Senate ticket in that state, with the position being offered to the highest ranked available candidate from that recounted ballot. If that person is either unavailable or unwilling to fill the vacancy, the position shall be offered to the next most preferred candidate.

5.9 If the Executive believe that it would be of significant benefit to the Party to do so it may, without prejudice, intervene in a sub-branch’s or any other preselection process.

6. MEETINGS

6.1 The Executive shall cause an Annual General meeting of the AMHP to be held as near as possible to twelve (12) months, no fewer than ten (10) months and no more that fourteen (14) months from that date of the last Annual General Meeting.

6.2 Members shall be given a minimum of thirty (30) days notice of the date, time and location of an Annual General Meeting.

6.3 The Executive shall cause special meetings of the AMHP to be held as required.

6.3.1 The Executive shall take heed of any petition from members for a special meeting and shall cause a special meeting if:

6.3.1.1 In the opinion of the Executive a meeting is to the benefit of the party, or

6.3.1.2 The petition is signed by a significant number of members as determined by the Executive.

6.4 Members shall be given a minimum of fourteen (14) days notice of the time, date and location of a special meeting.

6.5 Mail, email or a prominent posting on the AMHP website, detailing the location, date, time and agenda of any meeting shall be deemed sufficient notice of any AGM or special meeting.

6.6 The Executive may hold closed meetings for policy and campaign purposes otherwise members should normally be allowed to observe Executive meetings at the discretion of the Chair.

6.7 Amendments to this constitution must be passed by a majority of eighty percent (80%) of attending members, and proxies, at an AGM or special meeting called for the purpose. Any motion to amend this constitution must be listed on the agenda and submitted to the Executive, with supporting documents at least seven (7) days before the AGM.

6.8 The outgoing Executive will present a report of activities and an audited financial report at the Annual General meeting as near as practicable to the first order of business.

6.9 All financial voting members of the AMHP may attend or vote by proxy at the AGM for election of Executive committee and office bearers by show of hands and simple majority decision.

6.10 A motion calling for a secret ballot, if passed, shall take precedence over the requirements of voting to be by show of hands.

7. PROXIES

7.1 Members who are unable to attend meetings may provide their proxy vote to any current voting member.

7.2 All proxies must be lodged on the appropriate form that will be supplied by AMHP Secretary.

7.3 The proxy will take the form of a written and signed authority given by one member to another nominated member or the Secretary to vote on his or her behalf at any nominated meeting. The proxy may specify manner in which the proxy vote is to be exercised or may the leave the vote at the discretion of the nominated member.

7.4 All proxy forms are to be correctly completed and forwarded to the AMHP Secretary to arrive at least seven days prior to the relevant meeting.

7.5 Proxy holders will be advised by the Secretary prior to a ballot of the proxies registered to them.

7.6 No member may carry more than ten (10) proxies, except:

7.7 The AMHP Secretary may carry any number of proxy votes where the signed proxy form specifies the manner in which the proxy vote is to be exercised.

8. COMMUNICATIONS
8.1 The Chair is the only person authorised spokesperson for the AMHP including its sub-branches and any committees.

8.2 All press releases, advertising and media interviews are expressly to be authorized by the Chair.

8.3 The Chair may nominate any person, as spokesperson in general or limited to a specified issue or for a limited time. Example: This would normally be restricted to the senior candidate in any election for the duration of the election, or an expert, and limited to a specific issue.

8.4 The Chair may similarly authorize a public relations consultant nominated media spokesperson with the approval of a majority of the Executive.

9. MEMBERSHIP

9.1 Membership of The Australian Mental Health Party is open to any person who is not expressly excluded from membership and is not a member of another Australian political party, is entitled to vote in Australian Federal elections, is prepared to comply with this constitution, and pays the prescribed fees; provided that the Party may reject any application or cancel any membership without compensation on the grounds that its acceptance or continuing membership would be against the Party’s interests.

9.2 A person shall be entitled to join The Australian Mental Health Party as an associate member. Such people shall have the same rights as other members, except that they shall have no voting rights, and may not stand for any Mental Health Party or public office or publicly represent the Australian Mental Health Party (AMHP). Applications to become an associate member are subject to the same procedures for approval and rejection as ordinary membership applications.

9.3 Review of membership applications is the responsibility of the AMHP Executive or such other body as the Executive determines.

9.4 An application is rejected if it is opposed by the Executive or such other body as the Executive determines. Otherwise, the application is accepted.

9.5 A member is deemed to be enrolled upon receipt of the application by the membership officer.

9.6 Members are not entitled to vote in preselection at state, federal, branch or sub-branch level until six (6) months after they are enrolled, but may take part in all other party activities.

9.7 The membership enrolment of a person who is entitled to such enrolment in accordance with clause 2.1 must be effected by the secretary upon receipt of a written application from that person, provided that:

9.7.1 such application has been signed by the person;

9.7.2 such application is accompanied by the appropriate joining fee or evidence that this has been paid to the Party in a manner specified by or acceptable to the Executive; and
such application includes a declaration by the person that they subscribe to this constitution and are not a member of another political party.

9.8 The Executive must determine the amount payable by way of fee or fees and the fees must be paid:

9.8.1 by the person applying to be enrolled as a member, such fee to be referred to as the joining fee,

9.8.2 by the member renewing or continuing their membership, such fee to be referred to as the renewal fee;

9.8.3 by the person applying to be enrolled as an associate member, such fee to be referred to as the associate joining fee;

9.8.4 and in so determining, the AMHP Executive must also specify the period of time for which the payment of such fee or fees confers financial status to the relevant membership, and default such period of time is one year.

9.9 Any increase of the amount payable by way of membership fees performed in accordance with must be by resolution of the Executive after notice of that proposal has been published in an issue of the AMHP newsletter available to the membership at least thirty days prior to the meeting of the Executive where the question is to be decided.

9.10 A member must have their membership enrolment continued or renewed by the membership officer according to the procedures specified for this in the regulations of this constitution and resolutions of the Executive provided only that the appropriate renewal fee has been paid to the Party in a manner specified by or acceptable to the Executive.

9.11 A person ceases to be enrolled as a member if the financial status of their membership is more than six (6) months in arrears with respect to their renewal fee, or if they have resigned from the Party where such resignation is in writing and is signed by the member, or resigned by email where such email notification is verified by the Secretary and a 48 hour ‘cooling-off’ period has been observed, or if they have been expelled from the Party pursuant to the provisions of this constitution.

9.12 The rights, privileges, entitlements and duties of membership as specified in this constitution and any constitution of the sub-branch to which the member may belong must be extended to and honoured by a person enrolled as a member where that membership has the status of 10 financial voting members, or where that membership has had the status of non-financial for no more than three (3) months; otherwise while the person remains enrolled as a member they may not exercise or be permitted to exercise those rights, privileges, and entitlements other than to renew their membership.

9.13 It is the duty of each member to promptly forward to the membership officer all necessary renewals information and changes of information needed including postal and email addresses, to maintain accurate information about their membership enrolment.

9.14 It is the duty of the secretary or nominated membership officer and the Executive to do all that is reasonable to ensure that renewals and other information relevant to the membership roll are properly and promptly processed so as to ensure the accuracy of the membership roll; and such processing must be complete in less than three (3) months.

9.15 No person may be accepted as a member if convicted of a disqualifying electoral offence within the previous ten years.

9.16 If a current member is convicted of an electoral offence during their period of membership that membership is immediately terminated.

10. SUB-BRANCHES

10.1 The Executive can assist in the formation of sub-branches for the purpose of furthering the goals of the AMHP.

10.2 A minimum of ten (10) members may apply to form a sub-branch of the AMHP.

10.3 The purpose of a sub-branch is to further the goals of the AMHP, to raise donations and memberships, to suggest policy and nominate and support candidates in elections.

10.4 All funds collected at sub-branch level are to be deposited in the AMHP account with relevant documentation forwarded to the party Treasurer within seven (7) days.

10.5 Sub-branches will have their own Executive consisting of no more than 5 office holders who will report to the AMHP Executive.

10.6 No member is authorized to incur expenditure for any reason on behalf of the party without prior written authorization from the Treasurer and one other member of the AMHP Executive.

11. WINDING UP

11.1 A sub-branch may be wound up at the Executives discretion without compensation or recourse, should the Executive decide that the be no longer effective or capable of supporting the goals of the AMHP.

11.2 At the request of members or at the Executives sole discretion a special meeting may be called to wind up the AMHP.

11.3 A vote of eighty percent (80%) of attending members (or proxy) is required to formally wind up the AMHP.

11.4 In the event of the organization being wound up, any of the AMHP funds after the satisfaction of all of debts, and the sale of assets shall be donated to a Mental Health Non Government Organisation or Associations as determined by the Chair.

12 GRIEVANCES DISPUTES AND APPEALS

12.1 Members who become involved in a dispute with each other must take all practicable steps to resolve it between themselves, if necessary with the help of a mutually acceptable conciliator.

12.2 There shall be an AMHP Registrar appointed by the Executive who must not hold any other positions within the party and must have demonstrated understanding of the party processes and ethos and an ability to facilitate conciliation.

12.2.1 Disputes in the first instance will be presented to the AMHP Registrar.

12.2.2 Grounds for a dispute must be that the conduct at issue:

12.2.3 significantly disadvantaged the appellant or the party; and

12.2.4 was either improper or unreasonable; or

12.2.5 a member has acted against the interests of the party either by:
(i) failing to comply with the requirements of the Constitution or Regulations; or
(ii) some other conduct (conduct is improper if it breaches valid constitutional or other formal provisions, is manifestly unjust or works against the best interest of the party); or
(iii) a member who holds executive or sub-branch, office or holds party endorsement for public office has failed to carry out the responsibilities of the position to such an extent, or to have carried them out in such a way, that such sub-branch or the party has been or probably will be seriously disadvantaged.

12.3 In general, disputes must be lodged with the Registrar within 14 days of the action in dispute taking place. If special circumstances are warranted this can be extended to 30 days.

12.4 Upon presentation of a dispute to the Registrar, he/she must determine:
a) if the dispute is frivolous or vexatious; if this is the finding the dispute must be dismissed and the appellant only is to be notified; or
b) if there is a prima facie case; if this is the finding all relevant parties must be informed and advised of the next steps in the process

12.5 The Registrar’s determination must be made within 14 days, or within 3 days in the case of ballots or if the claim is taken to be a matter of urgency. Any interested party may request that the matter be considered as urgent and the Registrar will make any determination as is appropriate, taking into account the nature of the dispute and political implications.

12.6 When a prima facie case exists the Registrar must progress the dispute to mediation as soon as practicable

12.7 In accordance with the gravity of the breach the registrar in his/her mediation may:
(i) take no further action;
(ii) issue a directive;
(iii) issue a reprimand or an advice to the member on future conduct;
(iv) In more serious cases, recommend to the Executive that any or all of the following rights of the member be suspended in whole or in part, for a specified or indefinite period:
(i) the period of grace of a member whose subscription has expired;
(ii) seeking or holding state, or sub-branch office;
(iii) seeking or retaining endorsement of the party for public office;
(iv) speaking on behalf of the party;
(v) attending or participating in meetings of party bodies;
(vi) Membership of the party. In the case of a ballot the Registrar may, in accordance with the gravity of the breach:
(i) Take no further action:
(ii) Provide advice on the conduct of future ballots;
(iii) Order a recount of the ballot
(iv) Order the ballot to be redone.

12.8 A decision or ballot result will stand while a dispute is being considered.

12.9 Any findings and recommendations of the Registrar must be reported to the Executive,

12.10 The Registrar shall refer all disputes relating to parliamentarians, parliamentary performance or public comments made by parliamentarians to the relevant Parliamentary Team, or where the Team is less than 3 parliamentarians, to the Executive.

12.11 If the matter cannot be satisfactorily resolved within the Parliamentary Team it must then be referred back to the Registrar.

13. CONDUCT OF PARLIAMENTARY REPRESENTATIVES

13.1 Anyone applying to be a candidate for the Party will be required to give a signed undertaking regarding the following: not to speak publicly against the AMHP policy unless there is a genuinely strong conscientious objection, in which case the AMHP policy must be stated first and then any qualification/s can be given.

13.2 If elected the candidate agrees that whilst he/she may retain the right to resign from the Party, if he /she does so that person will resign the parliamentary seat beforehand.

13.3 An elected member of Parliament shall adhere to the policies formulated by this Party:

13.3.1 except that where the views of an elected member are in conflict with party policy, then the elected member may vote according to their conscience;

13.3.2 and where, in the opinions of an elected member, their duty to their electorate is in conflict with Party policy, then the elected member may vote according to their duty to their electorate.

13.4 When an elected member recognises a conflict between either their conscience or their duty to their electorate and AMHP policy, then they shall furnish a statement accounting for their position to the Executive, for their information.

13.5 When an elected member votes against the Party policy, then they shall at the earliest opportunity, furnish a statement accounting for the reason why they so voted to the Executive.

13.6 The Elected members shall elect a leader. In the event that a leader cannot be selected the Executive shall appoint the Parliamentary Leader.

Definitions

In this constitution, the definitions below apply:

absolute majority means more than half of the persons entitled to vote

body means a committee or officer of the Party at any level

sub-branch means a group of members who conduct meetings at a local level

debt any amount of money owing parliament, or municipal council or other similar body within Australia

Executive means the Executive of the Australian Mental Health Party Western Australia.

financial member means a member whose membership status is financial in accordance with the provisions of this constitution

Newsletter means the AMHP Journal of the Party as issued by the Secretary by mail or electronic means or both.

majority means more than half of the persons voting

member means a person who is correctly enrolled as a member of the Party

members are “natural persons” – , not organisations, companies or associations.

Party means The Australian Mental Health Party

party ballot means a ballot open to all members of the Party who are qualified under this constitution

policy means a public statement by the Party for and on behalf of the members and endorsed candidates and the Parliamentary representatives of the Party on matters of general and/or specific concern to the people of Australia, which statement shall take the form of a declaration, opinion and/or pledge and shall be determined according to the provisions of this constitution

Policy Frameworks: Each policy of The Australian Mental Health Party will have a policy framework as a preamble. These policy frameworks are not to be as broadly general as The Charter of The Australian Mental Health Party but are to be sufficiently general to permit people’s opinions to differ over the details of the policies.

preselection means the endorsement by the Party, in accordance with the relevant constitutional provisions, of a person to stand as a candidate of the Party for elected public office

Proxy: Written and signed authority given by one member to another nominated member to vote on his or her behalf at any nominated meeting.
The proxy may specify the manner in which the proxy vote is to be exercised or may the leave the vote at the discretion of the nominated member.

Related Parties : as defined in Part XI of the Commonwealth Electoral Act . Clause 123(2) of this Act states that “For the purposes of this Part, 2 political
parties shall be taken to be related if:
(a) one is a part of the other; or
(b) both are parts of the same political party”.

relevant members means the members of the Australian Mental Health Party

State means a state or territory of the Commonwealth of Australia

Signature: Any provision requiring a person’s signature on a document must be construed as meaning that such document be signed by that person with their personal signature, except that where a person is unable to sign their name in writing then their signature must be deemed to be their mark where this is identifiable as such and is made in the presence of a witness who must personally sign the document as such witness

Term: As defined as a period of time between State Conferences.

AMHP: is the abbreviation of The Australian Mental Health Party