Code modified to allow virtual meetings

Changes to meeting rules for NSW councils will open them up up to an online platform for councillors who aren’t able to attend in person.

Shelley Hancock

Local Government Shelley Hancock says the changes to the Model Code of Meeting Practice introduced from this week will provide more flexibility by allowing councillors to attend meetings virtually.

“These changes to the Code will modernise best practice and could not come at a better time as candidate nominations for the December 4 elections are still open until midday Tuesday, November 3,” Mrs Hancock said.

“Councils will now have the option to allow councillors to be present for official meetings by audio-visual link if they can’t attend in person because of illness, disability, caring and work responsibilities or other reasons agreed to by council.”

Mrs Hancock says the changes will also allow councils to meet remotely during natural disasters and public health emergencies.

“We have heard loud and clear that councils want this flexibility into the future. It encourages more diversity among councillors and it means critical decisions can still be made during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mrs Hancock said in a statement.

“Councils play a vital democratic function and it is important councillors are able to deliberate and determine important matters on behalf of their community especially during crises such as COVID-19, bushfires and floods.”

The NSW Government has also strengthened requirements for councils to financially support councillors with carer responsibilities including meeting childcare expenses to allow them to undertake their civic duties.

The new Model Code of Meeting Practice for Local Councils in NSW can be found here.

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