BEFORE ADMINISTRATION As previously noted, your former council’s dismissal was brought about because of the many governance failures noted in the CCC’s Operation Windage report. Many councillors had a divisionally-based focus (cited further in 3.3). They directed officers and were heavily involved in the day-to-day delivery of council services, rather than focusing on the role of leading the strategies and policies in the best long-term interests of the city as a whole. Indeed, many policies were put in place to provide a specific role for councillors in a number of day-to-day operational activities undertaken by council officers. Some members of the community continue to be perplexed when it comes to the roles and responsibilities of elected representatives. Many still cannot understand why a councillor should not take personal responsibility for fixing a pothole, restraining a dog, fining a resident or that it is inappropriate (and indeed unlawful) to direct a council officer to do so. With council’s goal to prepare the city for its return to elected representation in March 2020, it was clear that greater awareness was needed of the lawful role of elected representatives, not just for future councillors but for the community as a whole. WHAT WE DID A Transformation Project team (i.e. one of the 18 Transformation Projects cited in 2.2 above) was established to ensure incoming elected representatives are set up for success, and that the organisation is best prepared for their return. After a considerable amount of research, a comprehensive 50-page Candidate Guide was developed as part of an “Ipswich, it’s your council” city-wide education and awareness campaign. The goal of this guide was to clarify the roles and responsibilities of a councillor and to provide candidates with the information they need to fully understand the commitment (and limitations) that comes with being an elected representative. It contains a ‘must read’ checklist for candidates. The Candidate Guide also provides an overview of the three levels of government, the city’s financial position, the major opportunities and challenges facing Ipswich, and a considerable amount of information about the importance of good governance.
A Candidate Information Session was held in late November to provide potential candidates with an opportunity to learn from guest speakers, including the Interim Administrator, CEO David Farmer and representatives from the Department of Local Government, Racing and Multicultural Affairs and Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ). A second Candidate Information Session is scheduled to be held on 4 February 2020 at the North Ipswich Reserve from 6pm. A communications program supporting these key messages has been running on billboards, in the Queensland Times, on Ipswichfirst.com.au, on social media and on posters placed in cafes and restaurants around the city. A comprehensive, four-week induction program has been formulated for incoming councillors following the March 2020 elections. This program will cover all aspects of council business as well as an overview of the priorities and issues the city and organisation is facing. The goal is to provide all new councillors with the information they need to fulfil their city-wide brief and support the future direction of the city. Councillors will also benefit from bespoke, ongoing professional development programs. The organisation is prepared to provide regular updates to council on the performance of the organisation along with a framework to brief councillors when a matter arises that is of interest or risk to the community. A set of tools to support incoming councillors was also created, including a paperless agenda system and a councillor portal to support councillors in their day-to-day duties and obligations under the Act. Councillors will also have a team of dedicated councillor support officers. The project team sought to reset the ways that residents and ratepayers can most effectively contact your council. Access to information about council has been improved by the inclusion of additional information on the council website, including updates on current works and major projects. A refreshed web presence that includes a new mobile app improves the ease in which a resident can lodge a request for service in just a few clicks.