Councils embrace live webcasting

Live webcast at Kingston City Council, Vic.


Australia’s local councils are increasingly opting to live webcast their monthly council meetings.

Central Coast Council is one of the newest recruits to the trend and is planning a six-month trial of live webcasting its meetings.

Fixed cameras will be installed Gosford and Wyong Civic Centres, with images and audio live streamed via the internet.

Administrator Ian Reynolds called for a report on live webcasting in the first meeting of the new council in May, a council created after the merger of Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils.

Mr Reynolds said it would give the community another, convenient way to see the decision-making processes of the council first-hand.

“Now with live webcasting they will get to see what the final decision is without having to be physically in the chamber which is a great outcome for the Central Coast community,” Mr Reynolds said.

A further public exhibition will get underway shortly to gauge community views on webcasting and also a proposal to hold monthly instead of fortnightly meetings.

The first live-streamed council meeting is likely be held on Wednesday October 26 at Gosford Chambers.

Director of the Institute for Public Policy and Governance at the University of Technology, Associate Professor Roberta Ryan, said her team’s research showed that people held their councils in higher regard when they had more contact and more exposure to what their councils did.

“It is difficult to necessarily understand the range of things that councils do – or the complexity of the decisions that they have to take – if you are not involved with councils,” Ms Ryan said.

“Web streaming is something people can use and take a peak into what is going on – they can do it when it suits them- must people wouldn’t go to s council meeting and wouldn’t have a clue what goes on.”

A host of other councils have already taken the plunge.  In NSW, this includes Eurobodalla Shire, Woollongong, Northern Beaches Councils; in Victoria, Kingston, Bayside City and Greater Dandenong Councils; in WA the City of Bunbury and the City of Geraldton in WA, as well as Launceston, Tas.

Many others are teetering on the edge of introducing it, including City of Parramatta, Queanbeyan-Palerang and Inner West Council.

General Manager of Northern Beaches Council Mark Ferguson said webcasting encouraged the community understand and be involved with local issues.

“Council recognises the value of webcasting as it provides greater engagement with the community, gives more visibility of councillors and members of the public speaking at the public forums and it provides an accurate record of the meetings for future reference.”

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