So­cial me­dia use re­viewed

Cockburn Gazette - - NEWS - Belinda Cipri­ano

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.”

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