Now you're a councillor

Now you're a councillor

A site for women councillors in Victorian local government

Be yourself and you will be doing really well…

Di Moore was a councillor in the Shire of Yarra Ranges from 1997 – 2005.  Keeping a close eye on council matters, she decided to stand again in 2012.  Although not elected, Di feels satisfied with the result and looks forward to seeing the new council in action, able to see council meetings from the point of view of both a councillor and an ordinary citizen.  The most difficult meetings for new councillors can be those that require knowledge of formal meeting procedure.

“The meetings you’ll be attending will include formal council meetings or council committee meetings established by the council.  Committee meetings may have formal delegated status – meaning a committee can make decisions for the council or they may be advisory committees that provide recommendations to the council.

The procedures for both council and committee meetings and the establishment of such committees are governed by a Local Law.  It is critical that all councillors have a good working knowledge of the council Meeting Procedure Local Law.

However, don’t be too daunted!  Ultimately it is the council that decides what kind of Local Law it will have to govern meetings and what committees it will establish.  While all Meeting Procedure Local Laws model “formal meeting” practice it is up to you and your fellow councillors to decide what goes in the Local Law.

You will receive a formal notification of all council meetings.  Notification should include the date, times, location, and business of the meeting.  The Local Law will govern the amount of notice you receive of each meeting.

The council meeting agenda will include clear information in support of any proposed recommendation as well as a clear recommendations.  Most councils will provide councillors with an informal opportunity to discuss any issues with the chief executive officer or relevant officers prior to the council meeting.  If a councillor disagrees with the recommended resolution in the council agenda, it is necessary to follow the procedure set out in the Meeting Procedure Local Law for presenting an amended or alternative recommendation.  This may have to be achieved by proposing a formal notice of motion.

If you have not received or had the opportunity to discuss any information or proposed recommendations contained in the council agenda prior to the meeting, make sure you follow this up with the chief executive officer.

It is usually the CEO’s job to put the council agenda together.

The Local Government Act is a councillor’s bible.  It sets out what is required for the governance of a municipal district and its people.  It also establishes the authority and power of the council.

And finally the most important things in any debate are to:

  • participate
  • be issue centred
  • be well informed
  • be your self and you will be doing well.”