Australia-Thailand Intstitute

Charter of the Australia-Thailand Institute

1. Background

The Australia-Thailand Institute (hereafter referred to as "the Institute") was established in June 2005 for an initial period of three years. Consistent with the terms of its establishment, the Institute was reviewed in April 2008. This review concluded that the Institute had had a positive impact on bilateral relations and on 4 July 2008 Mr Smith announced his decision to make the Institute permanent.

2. Mission

The Institute's mission is to Promote Australia's interests in Thailand by initiating and supporting activities designed to enhance awareness, links and understanding between people and institutions in Australia and Thailand.

3. Objectives

The Institute's objectives are:

  1. to increase awareness and understanding of Australia in Thailand and Thailand in Australia, particularly amongst people and institutions that have the capacity to influence others;
  2. to increase knowledge and understanding in Australia of Thailand and in Thailand of Australia of the extent, breadth and opportunities of the long standing political relationship between the two countries; and
  3. to broaden awareness and understanding in Australia and Thailand of each other’s culture, values and traditions.

4. Functions

The Institute will:

  1. provide advice to the Minister for Foreign Affairs (hereafter referred to as "the Minister") through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) on appropriate programs to achieve the mission and objectives of the Institute effectively and efficiently within the agreed budget;
  2. implement the approved Strategic and Business Plans through programs, grants and other activities as appropriate;
  3. implement any directives that may be issued from time to time by the Minister; and
  4. monitor Institute expenditure and make recommendations to the First Assistant Secretary of the South-East Asia Division of DFAT or the Assistant Secretary, South-East Asia Bilateral Branch of DFAT for expenditure within the context of the approved Business Plan.

5. Structure and Membership

The Institute is an advisory body for the Minister, through DFAT, and has no executive powers. The Institute is directly responsible and accountable to the Minister for the exercise of its responsibilities.

  1. The Institute shall consist of:
    1. an advisory Board (hereafter referred to as "the Board") comprising
      1. a Chair;
      2. an ex officio member, being either the Secretary of DFAT or his/her representative;
      3. not fewer than four and not more than seven other members;
  2. a Secretariat provided by DFAT.
  3. The Chair and members (other than the ex officio member) shall be appointed by the Minister on a part-time basis for a period not exceeding three years.
  4. The Chair and members are eligible to be re-appointed although it is not envisaged that either the Chair or any other member (other than the ex officio member) would serve more than two consecutive terms.
  5. The Minister may terminate the appointment of the Chair or any member (other than the ex officio member) at any time by notice in writing.
  6. The Chair or any other member may resign his or her membership at any time by notice in writing to the Minister.
  7. Provided there are at least five members, including the Chair and ex officio member, the Board will be able to operate notwithstanding other vacancies.
  8. Neither the Chair nor any other member will be employees of DFAT or the Commonwealth by virtue only of their appointment to the Board.
  9. The Board does not have a legal identity separate to that of DFAT. The Board cannot, therefore, enter into contracts, incur debts or spend funds. To meet Government accountability requirements, the First Assistant Secretary of the South-East Asia Division or the Assistant Secretary of the South-East Asia Bilateral Branch or other relevant financial delegate of DFAT, will have responsibility for approving the expenditure of funds, the engagement of consultants and entering into contracts by DFAT for the performance of the activities mandated by the Institute's Business Plan and for other matters related to the carrying out of the Institute's purposes.

6. Governance

The Institute will:

  1. prepare a triennial Strategic Plan;
  2. prepare an annual Business Plan – within the parameters of its Strategic Plan – for approval by the Minister;
  3. conduct an annual review of the performance of the Board;
  4. conduct a comprehensive review of the Institute's mission, objectives, strategies, activities and administrative arrangements at least once every three years; and
  5. update and re-issue the Institute's Charter at least once every three years.

7. Responsibilities

  1. The responsibilities of members are to:
    1. be committed to the Institute's mission and objectives and act in its best interests;
    2. comply with DFAT's policies and procedures for the management of the Institute and any other DFAT accountability requirements; and
    3. meet all their fiduciary duties and responsibilities.
  2. In addition to sub-clause (1), the responsibilities of the Chair are to:
    1. approve an agenda for Board meetings;
    2. chair Board meetings (unless agreed otherwise);
    3. ensure there is effective participation and decision-making at Board meetings;
    4. manage potential conflicts of interest in accordance with DFAT's policies and procedures for the management of the Institute; and
    5. ensure adequate follow-up to Board meetings.
  3. In addition to sub-clause (1), the responsibilities of the ex officio member are to:
    1. provide recommendations on member appointments and extensions to the Minister;
    2. provide strategic-level policy advice to the Board on the Government's foreign and trade policy priorities;
    3. provide strategic-level advice on the administration and management of the Institute's programs; and
    4. ensure all spending proposals recommended for approval are consistent with DFAT's policies and procedures for the management of the Institute and any other DFAT accountability requirements.
  4. The responsibilities of the Secretariat are to:
    1. provide administrative support to the Board, including record, circulate and retain copies of the minutes of each Board meeting and maintain records of all out-of-session decisions made;
    2. implement recommendations of the Board; and
    3. undertake other activities that advance the Institute's mission.
  5. In assuming their responsibilities, the Chair, members and Secretariat should consult as widely as practicable individuals, organisations, enterprises and Government departments and agencies that share an interest in strengthening relations and promoting mutual understanding between Australia and Thailand.

8. Conduct and Ethics

  1. The Chair and members are required to abide by the principles set out in the Australian Public Service (APS) Values and Code of Conduct and, where applicable, DFAT's Code of Conduct for Overseas Service with the exception that they shall not be subject to the DFAT's disciplinary procedures. In particular, the Chair and members are required to:
    1. disclose potential conflicts of interest and address any issues in accordance with Departmental policies;
    2. not use their position and information for personal benefit or advantage at the expense of the Institute;
    3. deal with other members and the Secretariat with courtesy and respect; and
    4. respect the privacy and confidentiality of information obtained in the course of their participation and not share information that members are instructed to keep confidential.
  2. Nothing in sub-clause (1) shall be taken as conferring any diplomatic or consular immunity, privileges or status on the Chair or members.

9. Remuneration

  1. A person appointed to the Board (other than the ex officio member) shall be:
    1. paid sitting fees, travel and accommodation expenses in accordance with Australian Government Remuneration Tribunal Determinations; and
    2. entitled to be reimbursed for other expenses actually incurred by the member in the performance of their duties as a member and as recommended by the Board and approved by the relevant financial delegate.
  2. This clause has effect subject to the Remuneration Tribunal Act 1973.
  3. A member who holds any office or appointment (or is otherwise employed) on a full time basis in the service of the Commonwealth, the Administration of a Territory or a public statutory corporation is not entitled to be paid any remuneration in respect of his or her holding or performing the duties of the Chair or member of the Institute. The member may be entitled to travelling allowances.

10. Meeting Procedures

  1. Board meetings shall be held at such times and at such places as the Board determines. At least one and no more than four meetings will be held each financial year.
  2. The Board may make "out-of-session" decisions or recommendations on routine matters as may be required from time to time. Such decisions may or may not involve all members in accordance with agreed procedures (subclause (10) refers).
  3. At a Board meeting a quorum shall be constituted by any three members or not fewer than half the members for the time being holding office, whichever is the larger.
  4. The Chair will preside at all Board meetings at which he or she is present.
  5. If the Chair is unable to attend any meeting, the members present will elect one of their number to preside. The member so elected will be entitled to remuneration that the Chair would have received.
  6. Questions arising at a Board meeting will be determined by a majority of the votes of members present and voting. Each member present at a meeting of the Institute (including the Chairman or member presiding at the meeting and the ex officio member) is entitled to one vote but, in the event of an equality of votes on any question, the Chair or member presiding at the meeting also has a casting vote.
  7. Should the Chair be temporarily unable to carry out functions which he or she may be required to undertake outside Board meetings, a replacement Chair will be appointed by the Minister to carry out those functions.
  8. Procedures for the conduct of meetings of the Institute, including procedures for the election by members from amongst their number of an acting Chair, shall be determined and fully documented at the first meeting after the appointment of a new Chair. The procedures may be reviewed from time to time by the Board as required. All amendments to existing procedures must be fully documented and the Secretariat must retain copies of the appropriate documentation.
  9. Procedures for "out-of-session" decisions or recommendations on routine matters shall be determined and fully documented at the first meeting after the appointment of a new Chair. The procedures may be reviewed from time to time by the Board as required. All amendments to existing procedures must be fully documented and the Secretariat must retain copies of the appropriate documentation.
  10. The agenda for each meeting will be prepared by the Secretariat in consultation with the Chair. The agenda and any briefing papers will be distributed to members no less than one week prior to each meeting.
  11. The minutes for each meeting will be circulated no more than two weeks after each meeting.

11. Reporting

  1. The Institute will participate in DFAT-coordinated annual reviews of its activities. The outcomes of these reviews are reported to the Minister.
  2. The Institute will contribute information on its programs to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s annual report.
  3. The Institute will ensure all discretionary grants awarded to third parties are included in and advertised on the DFAT website.
  4. DFAT will have the responsibility for fulfilling all financial reporting requirements in respect of the Institute.

12. Funding Arrangements

  1. Funding of the Institute will be partially provided through a departmental allocation from DFAT and partially from an administered allocation under the International Relations Grant Program (IRGP). The amount of IRGP funding will be determined annually by the Minister on the recommendation of DFAT.
  2. The Institute's budget will be administered by the First Assistant Secretary of the South-East Asia Division of DFAT or other relevant financial delegate in accordance with relevant financial legislation.
  3. DFAT will fulfil all financial reporting requirements in respect of the Institute and its activities.

Subject to DFAT guidelines and consistent with its mission, the Institute is encouraged to seek additional revenue by way of sponsorship and other means including the sale of publications. Such additional revenue will be allocated to the same cost centre as DFAT funding. All sponsorship should follow DFAT's policies and procedures for the management of the Institute.