GAA Clubs are increasingly busy and complex places. They do a lot of different work with a lot of different people in a lot of different ways. Sometimes they work in partnership with others and often use other people’s money to help them in their work.
Above all, they very largely work with and for young people.
Because of all the above, clubs can’t afford to be haphazard about the way they do things. Neither should they become bureaucracies – but they should have in place set, specified ways of carrying out their business.
To make sure that happens we should have in place a number of policies and procedures. These should cover our basic areas of work or activity and should spell out:
l How we approach things.
l What procedures we have in place for doing things.
l Who’s responsible?
l What our members; players; and others can expect from us.
l We need these so that:
l Our club will operate to the highest possible standards: anything less isn’t good enough in the GAA.
l We have a framework within which we make our decisions and which can help people learn about how our club works.
l Our club will be a safe and secure place for people, and they in turn can be confident about that.
l We don’t depend on unwritten knowledge held by a few people.
l We don’t end up with inconsistencies in our club, with how things are done just depending on the whims of individuals.
l Those of us running the club can be secure in our own minds that we have protected ourselves and everybody else in and associated with the club.
AREAS WHERE CLUBS NEED POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
All clubs should by now have in place a Child Protection Policy: it’s a fundamental part of any club’s governance system. But the basic list of policies that clubs should have is as follows:
l Code of Conduct.
l Child Protection.
l Health and Safety.
l Valuing Volunteers.
l Discipline and Appeals Procedure.
l Critical Response Procedures.
l Information and Data Protection.
l Equality and Inclusion.
l Conflict of Interest and Anti-Fraud.
l Drug and Alcohol Policy – ASAP.
l Disability and Special Needs.
l Health & Wellbeing.
l Respect Policy.
MAKING IT ALL HAPPEN
The good news is that Comhairle Uladh has a full suite of draft policy documents available for GAA clubs. Clubs don’t have to go off and draw up their own documents.
The Comhairle Uladh templates can be downloaded from the Club Maith website.
But it’s vital that clubs then:
l Edit or modify the draft to suit their own club and its circumstances.
l Get those club versions formally approved by the club, at either an Executive Committee meeting or an AGM.
l Keep copies available for people to access, e.g. post them on the club website and keep a policy binderfolder in the club’s premises.
Above all clubs need to live up to and implement what’s in the policies.