Friday, May 21, 2010

Community Participation in Council Committees

This is an issue I have recently raised with other councillors- I would like to see our committees here in Glen Eira opened up to members of the community to enable and encourage participation and input.

A good example/model is Willoughby council in NSW-
where ALL committee meetings are open to the public who can participate and engage in discussions.These meetings are advertised with set dates throughout the year-

This would also rejuvenate our committees and enable a broader range of views to be expressed.I would like to see more community participation in Glen Eira along these lines.

Welcome readers comments.


  1. Yes, I recall you bringing this up in Council previously. It is a nice idea, but how would it work in practical terms?. I absolutely agree that the Animal Management, Community Consultation and Environmental Committees should have resident representation and input. However the Community Funding leaves me cold, because it would I fear. be dominated by the more savvy in our community, perhaps at the expense of the less well versed - the more shy would be overwhelmed by the expertise of the experienced negotiators.

    The few genuine community activists have a grasp of their own topics and can only add value to the debate. Rosetta and Kim would love to participate in the Animal Management, and I certainly would sit in on the Audit Committee....

    I had been advised some years ago that I should be able to ask at any time to sit in on a Committee Meeting but without active participation or commentary.

    I recall Cr Magee agreeing with the idea of yours and he went on record as saying he would support it as did Cr Tang! Cr Penhalluriack wouldn't have a problem either I believe as he is always motivating residents to be actively involved in community issues....So you're almost half way there!

    Public participation would definitely bring fresh ideas into any committee meeting simply because of their diverse views. Good luck with that idea.....

  2. These are admirable sentiments Neil, but councillors have had plenty of opportunities to make such views reality. There was the Local Law review and various recommendations that were rejected; there is now advisory committee recommendations that exclude external membership, etc. etc. etc. What the public invariably gets is council meetings that invariably produce 'unanimous' voting. Instead of 'robust discussion' as we're repeatedly told takes place, councillors hold their tongues and are content to give the impression that all is going along smoothingly. I do want to see open debate on such issues and I want to know who votes against such initiatives and thus be able to hold them to account at the ballot box. By presenting a 'closed shop' all that can be concluded is that decisions are made behind closed doors where we, your bosses, are excluded. What I want is councillors to be accountable for their decisions in an open and transparent fashion. This does not exist in Glen Eira unless you and others are willing to state your cases in open council meetings.

  3. Good idea Neil,

    To implement this you need to have support from other Councillors, wide community support, and the top bureaucrat's. As it stands I am not sure if you have the support from all around.

    Some Councillors prefer a specific lobbying process from those in community that have a large base. That gives them a direct benefit. The administration is also not that keen on processes that may interfere with their 'professional' work or take away their powers to influence Councillors decisions.

    Some community groups and developers in particular prefer the lobby approach that is done behind closed doors on individual cases, rather than have to argue their points with "uninformed" public.

    Participation and democracy are good to have, and may have benefits, but you need to convince others that it is better than what is happening now. For example would your scheme remove the constant Municipal Inspectors investigations?

    One positive idea that has now been implemented is the Complaints policy. But it took a long time and we still do not know how it works in practice.

    Hope you succeed in your endeavour for greater participation on Committees.

  4. Anonymous, has put her case forward perfectly. I would go one step further and remind you that you have been publicly supported in the Council Chambers, by both Crs Tang and Magee to promote the inclusion of community input into committee meetings. That was quite a long time ago, and still nothing has happened. What is holding up the process? or Who?

  5. As chairman of the consultation advisory committee Neil, the following press release by Bayside should be of interest to all and sundry. It clearly illustrates how consultation can be managed - if there is a genuine will and respect for community input. It is important to note that (1) the variety of methods and their comprehensiveness (2) plans are DERIVED from community input to begin with and not the other way around as is the Glen Eira way. Read and spot the differences -

    Help shape Bayside’s open spaces - Wednesday 09 June 2010

    Bayside City Council is holding community workshops to help shape Bayside’s Open Space Strategy which will provide guidelines for how open space is used, developed and managed in Bayside.

    Bayside City Council Mayor Cr Clifford Hayes said Council wanted the community’s involvement in the development of in the Open Space Strategy from the outset to ensure Council understands how different members of the community value open space in the municipality, including parks and reserves, sports grounds, foreshores, shared paths and streetscapes.

    “It is vital the community is involved at the start of the development of the Open Space Strategy to ensure policies, strategies and plans relating to open space in Bayside reflect the views, ideas and issues of the community, “ Cr Hayes said.

    “Our beaches, parks and open spaces are the heart and soul of Bayside and are used and valued in a variety of different ways by many different people. They provide places to walk, cycle, play sport, meet with friends and family, relax, celebrate events and enjoy our natural environment.

    “Anyone who cares about or uses open spaces in Bayside should take part in the workshops and contribute to the development of the Strategy.”

    A range of interactive workshops will be held across the municipality, including:

    Young People (aged 12–25 years): on 21 June 2010 from 6:30 – 8:00pm at the Peterson Youth Centre, Peterson Reserve, Cnr Highett Road and Peterson Street, Highett
    Families: on 23 June 2010 from 1:30 – 3:00pm at Hampton Community Centre Main Hall, 14 Willis Street, Hampton
    Older Adults: on 24 June 2010 from 2:00 – 3:30pm at Hampton Community Centre Main Hall, 14 Willis Street, Hampton
    Open space in Brighton/Brighton East: on 22 June 2010 from 6:30 – 8:00pm at Brighton Town Hall, Cnr Wilson and Carpenter Streets, Brighton
    Open space in Beaumaris/Black Rock/Cheltenham: on 23 June 2010 from 6:30 – 8:00pm at Black Rock Civic Hall, Balcombe Road, Black Rock
    Open space in Hampton/Hampton East/Highett/Sandringham: on 24 June 2010 from 6:30 – 8:00pm at Sandringham Senior Citizens Club, 18 Abbott Street, Sandringham.
    Community feedback from the workshops will be used to develop a draft scoping paper, which will identify the driving issues, ideas and themes from community groups and individuals in terms of how they use and value open spaces in Bayside, now and into the future. The draft scoping paper will go on to help shape the development of the Open Space Strategy.

    From 14 June, open space surveys will also be randomly distributed to more than 5000 households throughout the municipality, and interviews with members of the community will be held to provide further information for the development of the draft scoping paper, which will then be released for community feedback by early August.

    The Open Space Strategy will be finalised in December 2010 and will be used by Council, the community and other levels of government and organisations.

    To register for the workshops or for further information, contact CPG Australia, Samuel Marshall by Monday 21 June 2010 on (03) 9993 7988 or email For further information and other ways to get involved in the development of the Open Space Strategy, visit the Have Your Say section of Council's website.

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