Section 3: Now you’re a council member
Once the election is ﬁnalised, the CEO will advise when the next council meeting will occur. The time between the end of the election and the ﬁrst council meeting will vary from council to council. It may be almost straight away or could be as long as
three weeks after.
You should prepare yourself by learning about:
- the procedure for taking your place on your council
- meeting procedures set down in your local government’s local law (Standing Orders or Meeting Procedures Local Law).
The CEO may arrange an orientation and induction process for newly elected councillors. This may include:
- general information about local government and speciﬁc information on how your council operates
- a tour of the local government area and facilities
- information on the organisational and operational structure including an overview of each of the functions or departments
- introduction to key staff members.
In the meantime, you may ﬁnd it valuable to acquaint yourself with:
- the Local Government Act 1995 and regulations
- strategic management plan and other associated plans
- policies and procedures
- current year’s budget and budget proposals
- most recent annual report.
Most of this information can be found on your local government’s website.
The local government’s website also provides a range of useful contextual information including policies, legislation, manuals, codes and guidelines.
If your council does not have a formal induction program, you could make a time to meet with the CEO and mayor / shire president.
Once you have been elected, you will be required to make a Declaration of Ofﬁce before you are ofﬁcially on the council. This is a formal declaration that you undertake to carry out your duties faithfully, honestly, with integrity and to the best of your
ability. It is signed in the presence of an authorised person. This normally occurs at the ﬁrst council meeting after the election.
Each council has its own procedure for this ceremony. If a speech is required, it is usually most appropriate to make a simple statement thanking your supporters and expressing your desire to contribute to the work of your council.
You must also complete a primary return of your ﬁnancial and other interests within three months of the conclusion of the election, and an annual return (an update of changes to the primary return) each year. The CEO will brief you on the procedure as
it applies to your council. For transparency and accountability purposes, your primary and annual returns will be accessible to the public via the local government’s website and will be available for public inspection at the local government’s
As councillors have no authority in relation to staff, you should ask about the procedures for lodging enquiries regarding local government works and services. You should also seek opportunities to meet your fellow councillors with whom you will be working
for the next few years.
Training and development
As part of recent reforms to the Local Government Act 1995, a universal training program for all council members has been introduced. The Council Member Essentials has been developed to better equip council members in undertaking their role. Following election, council members will be required to complete five modules of training within the first 12 months of being in office.
It’s not about winning for yourself. It’s about looking at the bigger picture, taking stock of all the information and facts, seeking community input and finding commonality with others about what is the greatest benefit to the community.