Article by Jane Tweedy, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre

Small business owners often fear they will be caught out by regulation changes that they didn’t know about. How do you keep up-to-date? One way is through Industry Associations, which always seems to be a surprise to people. This is unfortunate as they offer other member benefits too!


What are Industrial Organisations?

Industrial Organisations (IO) are registered under the Industrial Relations Act 1996 and are for employees or employers, and therefore primarily relate to the treatment of people within an industry. Most people when I mention Industry Associations confuse them with IOs and therefore think of them more as a union. Although many Industrial Organisations are Industry Associations, that doesn’t have to be the case.


What are Industry Associations?

Industry Associations exist to enhance the business interests of their members. In addition to the optional IO role, they may act as advocates for the industry. The rest of their roles are purely member focused and can include some or all of the following:

  • industry updates (legislation changes)
  • marketing and awareness programs
  • insurance
  • industry networking events and conferences
  • member directory
  • training and professional development
  • accreditation
  • loyalty and rewards programs
  • access to discounted legal advice and documents …


As can be seen there are MANY potential benefits but here are two key areas.



One of my clients was quoted by an insurance broker $2000 for public liability and professional indemnity insurance for her start-up business. I looked up her Industry Association which was $299 to join. For the same level of cover she could get insurance for $200! So for $500, a 75% saving, she could get the insurance AND all the other benefits! Obviously make sure the policies are genuinely the same level of cover (no funny exclusions) but they can be a great option as the association uses its buying power and spread of risk to get you a better deal.


Regulation update

You can go online and sign up to services like NSW Fair Trading eNews, and ATO updates, but you’ll get lots of information irrelevant to you and may not get the one you actually need as you didn’t sign up to that service. Industry Associations have an interest in making sure their members are compliant, and therefore they will often monitor and even liaise with the policy writers about changes to legislation and regulations. Therefore they will inform you of changes relevant to you. Although you are still ultimately responsible, they will help you keep up-to-date.


Industry Associations can be a valuable additional advisor to your business, so make sure to check them out!


Need help?


Are you still confused, or not even know where to start? Then please consider seeing us first. We can suggest Industry Associations that may be of relevance to you, but also connect you with independent providers like insurance brokers. Please make an appointment to see one of our business advisors for up to four hours of business advice at no cost with no catches! Book now!