Council has endorsed a series of new policies to strengthen Council’s transparency and accountability and ensure good governance across the board.
Each policy has been prepared in accordance with the new Local Government Act 2020 (the Act) which received Royal Assent on 24 March 2020.
The Act aims to strengthen democracy, accountability and equity in local government, delivering a higher degree of transparency and integrity for the public. It focuses on a principles-based approach rather than prescriptive and provides Councils and their communities the opportunity to review and reset a number of policies and practices.
New endorsed governance policies include:
A new policy which will incorporate and replace the existing Meeting Procedure Local Law, Community Participation Time Policy and Election Period Policy. This policy will determine how Council Meetings are run and how the community can participate. This policy aims to encourage public participation in Council meetings and covers the permanent continuation of Open Community Briefings.
Public Transparency Policy
A new policy which guides how and when Council’s will make information available to the community. Council will always strive to be transparent and release information to the public without the need for a formal process.
Council Expenses Policy
This policy supports Councillors and members of Delegated Committees to perform their role, ensuring out of pocket expenses are reasonably incurred and reimbursed and that Councillors and members of Delegated Committees are supported to perform their duties without disadvantage.
Delegated Committee Policy
This policy supports Council in ensuring good governance and appropriate management of Delegated Committees by outlining how such committees can be formed, how they are to be governed and how they are to run to achieve the best outcomes for the community. At present Council has no Delegated Committees, however the establishment of this policy means Council is well placed to form such Committees if the need arises.
Audit and Risk Committee Charter
This charter supports Council in ensuring good governance and appropriate management of the Audit and Risk Committee – an independent committee established to strengthen Council’s governance, risk management, financial management and to drive continuous improvement.
Community Asset Committees
This structure supports Council in ensuring good governance and appropriate management of Community Asset Committees (previous referred to as Section 86 Committee of Management), who manage some Council Recreation Reserves and Public Halls on behalf of Council. It clarifies the powers and administrative arrangements related to those committees.
All policies were endorsed at last night’s Council meeting with unanimous support by all Councillors who acknowledged the power of work that went into updating each policy in line with the new Act.
The policies have been endorsed before the 1 September deadline.
As stated by Mayor Cr Danny Goss
“Council is committed to good governance, public transparency and accountability to the Baw Baw Shire community. These revised policies will help to achieve that by strengthening practices around availability of information, accountability in decision making, management of Council meetings, expenses and reimbursements and management of committees.”