The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
Advisory committee change for city
A“This council is committed to allowing the community to have a greater input into the decisions we make” –Robyn Gulline
policy framework involving community committees that provide management advice about council-owned facilities in Horsham will undergo reform.
Horsham Rural City Council has endorsed a draft plan to reshape committee structure. It is now seeking input from committee members about the changes.
More than 30 committees involving about 90 people provide advice to the council.
The council is reviewing its committee structures to comply with Victorian Local Government Act requirements and at a July meeting discussed at length the importance of the advisory groups.
Horsham mayor Robyn Gulline said the statewide changes were important because a committee structure had evolved without regular reviews.
She said this had led to a broad and inconsistent suite of groups, of which some were no longer effective or in some cases no longer operating.
“This council is committed to allowing the community to have a greater input into the decisions we make,” she said.
“We see an enhanced committee structure as one of the best things we can do to achieve that goal.”
Cr Ian Ross was among councillors who at the July meeting welcomed the review, outlining his belief that the ‘committees are one of the most important things to council’.
He stressed a need in the adoption of the framework that councillors have greater involvement in the various committees or through a committees forum.
Cr Ross argued, in a debate about how directly councillors should be involved in specific committees, that greater face-to-face engagement would lead to broader understanding of issues.
“We as councillors should be involved in this process,” he said.
Amid discussion about how best to frame wording in adopting the draft, councillors generally agreed on a need for a close relationship with committees.
The endorsement came at the meeting after the council review of committees that covered several months. The draft policy framework includes the creation of strategic planning committees, which will reflect the themes of a four-year council plan.
The draft also includes the creation of user groups independent of the council that can be contributors in strategic projects and feed into the strategic planning committee deliberations.
Cr Gulline said the proposed policy framework would ensure all committees were relevant and active.
“The number of committees has grown considerably over the years, while some have been inactive with stalwarts carrying the load,” she said.
“This new structure will reduce volunteer fatigue and empower the community with a greater say in the council’s strategic direction.
“We want our committee members to all play a significant role in advising the council on policies, major strategies and decisions.
“The development of a policy framework is the first step in supporting this.”
Councillors and staff will engage with committee members in coming weeks to discuss the draft policy framework and the role of their committees in the new structure.
The council will assess feedback before finalising the committee structure.