How do I participate in a Council Meeting?
Council Meetings form an integral part of the planning, policy and decision-making process. Council encourages the public to attend Council Meetings and participate in its decision-making process. This can be done during the "Open Forum" section of the meeting.
Questions during "Open Forum" are an opportunity for yourself as a community member to clarify strategic, policy or any other appropriate matter that may not be listed on the Council Agenda. The objective of "Open Forum" is to assist Council to remain accountable to the community.
NOTE: Some questions are simple in format and can be answered during the "Open Forum" section at the start of a Council Meeting. However, some questions are technical in nature and will require some time for Council staff to prepare answers. The earlier you submit your questions, the more chance Council will have to prepare a response for delivery during the "Open Forum" section.
Submitting a written question prior to the Council Meeting:
- Email: Preferably at least 2 days before a scheduled Council Meeting, you must submit your questions by email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line of 'Question for Council Meeting on ...insert date".
- In writing: To allow time for delivery by post, please submit your questions at least 3 days before a Council Meeting to the Chief Executive Officer, Question for Council Meeting, Indigo Shire Council, PO Box 28 Beechworth 3747.
- At Customer Service Centres: Your written questions can be handed in at Customer Service Centres, preferably at least a day before a Council Meeting,
- At the Council Meeting: Questions in writing need to be received at least 30 minutes prior to the beginning of a Council Meeting. The question must relate to matters that affect the Council, and a community member submitting a question must be present for the question to be raised and answered.
Ask a question without notice on a current agenda item at the meeting:
This will then either be answered or taken on notice, at the Chairperson's discretion.
Open Forum Procedure
Welcome to this meeting of Council
You are most welcome to ask questions during Open Forum at monthly Council Meetings. (Special meetings do not contain an Open Forum section). To streamline the process and allow Council staff time to prepare answers for you, we ask that you follow the procedure below.
Open Forum Procedure
- Visitors present at an Ordinary Meeting may ask a question or questions of the Council, but shall do so only after having written those questions on a form and provided them to the Chief Executive Officer or Chairperson at least thirty (30) minutes prior to the meeting commencing. No question may be dealt with unless the visitor is present in the public gallery.
- The Chairperson shall, at his sole discretion, allow the visitor so submitting a question to verbally ask that question and be verbally answered or advised that the question will be taken on notice and a written response provided to the question.
- Questions submitted after the thirty (30) minute period may be answered at the next Ordinary Meeting or, at the discretion of the Chief Executive Officer, may be answered in writing instead.
- An answer must only be given to the Meeting if the Chairperson has determined that the relevant question:
- does not relate to a matter beyond or outside the Council's power;
- is not defamatory indecent, abusive or objectionable;
- is not repetitive of a question already asked (whether at that meeting or a previous meeting);
- is not asked to embarrass a Councillor or a member of Council's staff; or
- does not involve the disclosure of confidential information or private information the disclosure of which is prohibited by law. No debate on questions asked or answers given is permitted.
- The time allowed for questions and the relevant answers and the number of questions from any one visitor shall be at the sole discretion of the Chairperson.
Other Local Law #3 clauses relating to community interaction at meetings
Outside of Open Forum the gallery is required to be silent and to "not interject or take part in the debate" (Local law #3, clause 4.25).
In cases of the local law being breached the Mayor has the power under local law #3 (section 4.26) to call the meeting (including the gallery) to order, and remove or adjourn the meeting. Penalties apply for breaches of Local Law #3 — Meeting Procedure.
Thank you for participating in this meeting.
Download Open Forum Procedure (One A4 page):
Last updated: 20 March 2017