Council has a legislative requirement under the Local Government Act 1993 to ensure that community input is a part of the decision making process. Section 8 of the Act refers to Councils’ charter. Ten of the eleven points in the charter require community engagement:
- to provide directly or on behalf of other levels of government, after due consultation, adequate, equitable and appropriate services and facilities for the community and to ensure that those services and facilities are managed efficiently and effectively
- to exercise community leadership
- to exercise its functions with due regard for the cultural and linguistic diversity of its community
- to properly manage, develop, protect, restore, enhance and conserve the environment of the area for which it is responsible
- to have regard to the long term and cumulative effects of its decisions
- to bear in mind that it is the custodian and trustee of public assets and to effectively account for and manage the assets for which it is responsible
- to facilitate the involvement of councillors, members of the public, users of facilities and services and council staff in the development, improvement and co-ordination of local government
- to raise funds for local purposes by the fair imposition of rates, charges and fees, by income earned from investments and, when appropriate, by borrowings and grants
- to keep the local community and the State government (and through it, the wider community) informed about its activities
- to ensure that, in the exercise of its regulatory functions, it acts consistently and without bias, particularly where an activity of the council is affected.
Foreshadowed legislation by the State government will require Councils to have formally adopted a Community Engagement Strategy.