Council has revised its Governance Rules so community members can submit a written statement and/or speak at Council meetings in response to agenda items. Please note that current public health directions prevent public attendance in the Council Chamber and so written statements only will continue temporarily.
“To me, hearing from the community during Council Meetings at the Council Chamber and listening to diverse points of view from different speakers is real grassroots democracy,” says Mayor Cr Laurence Evans OAM. “Councillors also find written statements beneficial as we can consider statements before the meeting and easily reference them as they’re published with the agenda.”
The change to a hybrid approach of both speakers and written statements was made in response to community feedback on proposed changes. Feedback overwhelmingly requested continuing to allow speakers to address Council and/or providing a choice of formats for community members.
Previously, community members only had the option to speak at Council meetings in respect of agenda items. However, since written statements temporarily replaced speakers from March 2020 due to COVID restrictions, engagement with Council meetings has increased 155%.
Meeting agendas 24 hours earlier
To provide more time for the community and Councillors to read and consider meeting agendas – which are usually hundreds of pages long – meeting agendas will now be published 24 hours earlier (the Wednesday before the relevant meeting, or earlier where possible).
Requests to be Heard deadline
Requests to speak and/or written statements must now be received by 9am the day before the relevant meeting. To keep meetings to a reasonable duration, speaker numbers will be capped at a maximum of 10 in response to eligible agenda items. For Council meetings, this will be up to five speakers ‘for’ and five ‘against the recommendation. For Planning and Amenity Delegated Committee meetings, this will be up to seven objectors and up to three supporters.
Please note that due to current COVID directions, temporary meeting procedures are still in place whereby written statements only are the method for addressing reports by the organisation.
Public attendance in the Council Chamber will be reinstated upon relaxation of Victoria’s COVID-safe settings and when density guidelines allow.