Social media use reviewed
THE appropriate use of social media by elected members will be considered as part of a mandatory code of conduct for councillors once the Local Government Act 1995 phase one reforms are legislated, says Local Government Minister David Templeman.
The cities of Cockburn and Fremantle currently do not specifically have mandatory policies regarding social media, although councillors and mayors do have guidelines.
City of Cockburn governance and community services director Don Green said guidelines for the use of social media by councillors and the Mayor were available on the City’s website.
Chief executive Stephen Cain said it recently held a training session on social media use for elected members, which was in part a response to complaints about the inappropriate use of this media.
“Where complaints were received they have been addressed in accordance with the City’s complaint protocols with the individuals concerned,” Mr Cain said.
The training session covered topics including how the City uses social media and alignment with strategic objectives.
It also covered how elected members can use social media to form a connection to community or build a personal brand, and discussed social media pitfalls.
Mr Templeman said he had been made aware of the use of social media by some City of Cockburn elected members and had been monitoring the situation for some time.
“Local governments are the foundation of local democracy and democracy involves disagreement,” he said.
“Social media presents a fantastic opportunity to engage with the public and I expect local governments and their elected members to use social media in constructive ways.
“Common sense should be used and each local government having a social media policy would be a good starting point to set some ground rules.”
A City of Fremantle spokesman said while it did not have a policy specifically on the use of social media by elected members, the City had a code of conduct that compelled them to, among other things, conduct themselves in a manner that maintained the reputation of their office and their local government.
City of Cockburn Councillor Michael Separovich, a prolific user of social media, said he believed he abided by parts of the City’s Code of Conduct.
“The parts that don’t hinder an elected member’s ability to actually freely discuss topics with the community,” he said.
“We recently had the results of a community perception survey come back and one of the top two biggest concerns was that elected members were seen as being ‘inaccessible’ to some parts of the community.”