City of Whittlesea residents are invited to have their say on Council’s Draft Governance Rules, which outline the way in which Council Meetings are conducted, decisions are made and communicated and elections of Mayor and Deputy Mayor are managed.
Among the new changes to the rules, which were last updated in 2021, are provisions for virtual meetings, clearer definitions of meeting roles and the introduction of an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners and a diversity statement to open Council Meetings.
|Statement to Acknowledge Traditional Owners|| |
“On behalf of the City of Whittlesea I recognise the rich Aboriginal heritage of this country and acknowledge the Wurundjeri Willum Clan as the Traditional owners of this place. I would also like to personally acknowledge Elders past, present and emerging”
A statement to reflect the purpose of the governance process to ensure decision making is reflective of the diverse community and Council’s vision:A Place for All.
“At the City of Whittlesea we are proud of our diversity and the many cultures, faiths and beliefs that make up our community. We strive to be an inclusive welcoming City that fosters participation, wellbeing and connection to each other and this land. We commit as a Council to making informed good decisions to benefit the people of the City of Whittlesea now and in the future to support our community’s vision of A Place For All.”
The new provisions to the Local Government Act 2020 requires Council Governance Rules to be updated to include procedures relating to virtual meetings, this has given Council an opportunity to also look at other changes to the rules to ensure that Council Meetings are more inclusive and accessible and make it easier for people get involved.
What has changed
- Non gender specific references
- The addition of reasonable adjustments to enable participation to ensure all our Community have fair and equal access to participate in Council processes. This includes making reasonable adjustments for Council participation, where required, as well as for the Community. Assistance may include physical assistance and/or translation services. The Governance Rules will be supported by internal Protocols to support access and engagement.
- Clearer language for better community understanding and practices
- A commitment to review the Rules within 12 months following a general election
- Acknowledgement of traditional owners and diversity governance statement. Previous versions of the Rules included that minutes would record if a prayer, good governance pledge or reconciliation statement was read at the Meeting. Past practice has been that the Chair reads an acknowledgement of traditional owners statement and a religious prayer is read by the CEO, praying for blessing to make informed and good decisions. The new version proposes to embed the following:
- Acknowledgement of traditional owners
- A diversity governance statement in line with Council’s vision: A place for all.
- Rules to detail the process for the Election of Mayor and Deputy Mayor (if any)
- Provisions for virtual meetings, including:
- Voting methods
- Provision for the CEO to change the meeting to a virtual platform when deemed necessary
- Process for Councillors to request attendance via a virtual platform
- Method for approval of Councillor attendance at a Council Meeting virtually
- Public Question Time
- Provision for the CEO to read a public question when the person who has submitted the question is unable to
- Allowance for public question time to be extended (at the discretion of Council) for up to 30 minutes
- Public statements as well as public questions being able to be read at a Council Meeting.
- Priority given to questions received by 12pm on the day of a meeting (adjusted from up until the start of the meeting). This will allow time for Council Officers to provide appropriate background information
- Procedures for accommodating more than two questions or statements per person
- Questions to be dealt with on an On Notice basis only where the entire question and appropriate contact details have been provided in writing. Incomplete questions will not to be prioritised during public question time.
- Petitions and Joint Letters
- Ability for the CEO and Chairperson to reject Petitions and Joint Letters that are matters outside Council jurisdiction
- Ability to address petitions in conjunction with a related Agenda Item;
- Direction that no motion is to be made on a petition, or joint letter until (at least) the next Council meeting after that at which it was presented – with the exception of those that Council agrees to consider in conjunction with a current, relevant Agenda item
- Definitions of Meeting Roles to assist the community and new Councillors to understand the role of participants at the Council Meeting
- Method for documenting apologies and absences in the Council Meeting minutes to ensure that Councillor attendance is recorded accurately.
Consultation and Feedback
There was significant community consultation undertaken in early 2021 which was considered prior to endorsing the Governance Rules 2021.
We are proposing to include an Acknowledgement of Traditional Owners as well as a diversity statement in line with our Council vision of A Place for All, which will replace the prayer that is currently said at the beginning of Council Meetings. We have worked closely with the Whittlesea Interfaith Network on this proposed change to a diversity statement and will continue to work with them and the wider City of Whittlesea community during this consultation period.
We invite feedback from community with their thoughts on the Draft Governance Rules
This can be done by letting us know how you feel about these rules below and following the prompts.