‘They’re all just committees right?’

When thinking about committees, you might imagine a group of men in suits like our dapper gents above. However, committees are not always how we imagine.

Broadly speaking, committees are established to consider specific matters, advise on issues and make decisions on behalf of the wider group or agency. When you look at it this way, an argument can be made to describe governing bodies and advisory bodies as committees.

However, advisory bodies and governing bodies perform functions that can have bigger and more far-reaching effects when compared to a standard committee. Because of this, a new function has been added to the GRDS to cover the management and administration of governing bodies.

So what is the difference between advisory bodies, governing bodies and committees?

Advisory bodies

Advisory bodies provide advice to the government on many different issues and their recommendations may directly influence the actions of the government. Advisory bodies undertake no role in governance activities.

Take the example of the Radiation Advisory Council. This Council advises the Minister on the administration of the Radiation Safety Act 1999 and makes recommendations for the prevention or minimisation of dangers arising from radioactive substances and associated machinery. Advice and recommendations for action of this type are significant and may affect both the community and the Queensland Government.

Governing bodies

Governing bodies set an agency’s strategic and policy direction. They direct how an agency’s services are administered and delivered which will potentially affect both the Queensland Government and the wider community. Governing bodies, such as boards, trusts and councils, have executive powers and focus on administrative control of an agency’s governance framework.

Governing bodies, like the Public Trust Office Investment Board, are responsible for the long-term performance and business success of their agency. The governing body’s leadership and decision-making sets the strategic direction for the agency to meet its goals and objectives.


Committees can be internal, external and inter-agency (where your agency provides the secretariat). High level committee records are significant and are retained permanently. These are similar to advisory bodies and governing bodies because they have overall responsibility for making major policy and planning decisions for agencies. Other agency committees are less significant and have a temporary retention period because they are formed to consider specific matters, including operational matters.

So what does all this mean?

As you can see from the above definitions, advisory bodies and governing bodies are similar in that they both consider issues that may have implications for the agency, for the Queensland Government and for the wider community. Committees can be more focussed on the operational aspects of your agency’s core business.

As for how to sentence records about them and the ones created by all of them, there are 3 record classes in the GRDS for committees and advisory bodies (under Common Activities) – 1013, 1014, and 1015. Which one you use will depend on if it is an advisory body (1013), a normal kind of committee (1015) or a high-level important kind of committee (1014).

Governing bodies is a bit different – there is a whole function dedicated to these with 6 different classes for the various activities.

Remember, records must fit into the scope note of the record class so read that carefully to make sure you use the right one.

More information

If you’re still unsure as to the nature and significance of your committee records, let us know so we can provide further assistance.

Remember, you can contact us at any time via our online contact form, email, telephone (07 3037 6630), blog or Twitter.


Featured image: Portrait of Fruit Committee at the Interstate Conference of Ministers of Agriculture, Brisbane, 1926 Digital Image ID 2135

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