Contracts and approvals

Method

Signed contracts and approvals are an essential step to gaining official government commitment and support for the implementation of a National Water Safety Plan. Contracts may be required when government funding has been offered for plan implementation, clarifying the amount of expected investment and any deliverables the government may request as a result. Approvals may be more appropriate when seeking official government support for plan implementation.  


Contracts 

Contracts are legally binding documents which detail all commitments and responsibilities of the parties who have signed them. These documents describe the penalties for not adhering to the terms and list the ways in which a contract may be breached or become void. Contracts are quite similar to a MoU in terms or purpose and context however, MoUs are not legally binding.  A contract is typically between two parties, but can be expanded to include multiple individuals and organisations. Contracts can also be very complicated and require the input of legal professionals. A contract should be reviewed carefully by all parties prior to it being signed, ensuring everyone is aware of their responsibilities and that there are no unreasonable clauses.  


Approvals 

In many contexts, it will not be necessary to have a contract signed by government in support of water safety plan implementation, but it may be important to have the national governing body informed and supportive of the plan.  

Approvals can be used to formally document the governments support of water safety plan implementation.  

This approval could be provided in a formal written document, informal agreement or through an in-person meeting. Remember to provide information on the burden and impact of drowning in the local context, presenting water safety plan as a way to improve the health and lives of the people the government is responsible for.  


Advantages

  • Contracts are legally binding and therefore increase accountability of both parties. 
  • They clearly outline the responsibilities and expectations for all involved. 
  • They protect the implementation of a National Water Safety Plan against some circumstances. 
  • Both contracts and approvals increase stakeholder engagement. 
  • Federal government approval boosts national support for water safety plan implementation. 
  • Governments may be more willing to give approval, rather than sign an MoU or contract. 


Disadvantages

  • A contract is not infallible: it can be voided if certain conditions are met.  
  • Contracts must be written and reviewed by legal professionals. 
  • Technical jargon and terms included in a contract can be hard to understand. 
  • MoU approvals are not legally binding and may be revoked or ignored. 


Context

It is appropriate to draft and sign a contract with a national governing body when inputs and outputs are required from both teams as part of the implementation of a National Water Safety Plan. Government approval is appropriate to seek if water safety plan implementation will not directly involve the government, but will benefit and be legitimised by their support.  

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