A committee is a group of people who are appointed or elected by an organisation or group to provide advice and information on a particular area or topic.
Joining a committee is a great way to advocate for your rights, and develop leadership skills.
Lots of organisations have committees, including local councils.
Disability Advisory Councils
In Australia, there are disability advisory councils in federal, state and local levels of government.
If you are interested in speaking up for people with disability, making your community more accessible, or increasing the participation of women and girls with disability in the community, applying to join a local disability advisory council is a great way to start. Get in touch with your local council to find out how.
A board is a group of people who meet to oversee and make decisions for organisations and companies about policies, finances, branding, human resources and much more.
Board members can be appointed through an interview process or elected by members of an organisation. Anyone can apply to be on a board and there are a range of skills that can be useful to have as a board member. This includes lived experience of a relevant issue or membership of the organisation.
Some organisations require that board members have specific knowledge and skills. However, you do have a right to ask for any support and training that you may need to meet the position requirements.
What do Boards do?
As a member of a board you are involved in a range of activities including:
- attending meetings
- reading the meeting papers beforehand
- making decisions about finances and legal matters
- employing the chief executive officer or manager of an organisation
- taking part in planning days.
Board members have some legal responsibility for making sure the organisation they represent is run well. This is called fiduciary responsibility.
Why join a Board?
There are lots of benefits to joining a board or committee. As well as giving you opportunities to have a say about issues you care about, being involved in a board or committee can help you to:
- develop skills in leadership, debating and public speaking
- build your knowledge of business, government and the environment
- expand your network of professional contacts
- grow your career opportunities
- become a role model for other women with disability
- make improvements in your community.
What are my responsibilities as a Board member?
Different boards do different things, so your responsibilities as a board member will vary. However there are key things that all board members do. This includes:
- making sure that the organisation meets all legal requirements
- monitoring the organisation's spending and approving budgets
- representing the organisation at external events and in the community
- planning long term goals for the organisation and defining its values
- implementing policies to make sure the organisation is not at risk. This may include, conducting risk management audits and adopting insurance policies
- appointing a Chief Executive Officer (CEO), or equivalent person to oversee the day to day activities of the organisation.
What are my rights as a Board member?
If you are a board member, you have the right to be supported by that organisation. You have a right to access things like:
- support to take part in meetings and understand information
- monetary support for any costs related to your role, such as travel and stationary
- information about the organisation's finances, employees and activities
- training to build your knowledge and skills.
Tip: You can learn more about the rights and responsibilities of Board directors on the Australian Institute of Company Directors website (external link).
Women with disability on boards
It is important for women with disability to be included on boards and committees so that the issues that affect them are considered and addressed.
Women with disability can apply to join any board. However, to be on a board it is important you have knowledge and skills relevant to the needs of the organisation.
There are some organisations with boards that address issues specific to women and people with disability. Some examples include:
- Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs)
- National Women’s Alliances (NWAs)
- Disability representative organisations (DROs)
- Disability advocacy organisations
- Local council disability advisory committees
- Women’s health centres
- Women’s legal centres
- Women's shelters.
You can learn more about organisations that represent women and people with disability on our page about Leadership Organisations.