Item 13.1 - Attachment 2

Full Notes Councillor Workshop


Notes Councillor Workshop: Advisory Committees


2nd February 2009


Advisory Committee Councillor Workshop 2/2/09




1. Lord Mayor Clr Issa opened the Workshop, acknowledged the role of the Advisory Committees and explained the purpose of the workshop:

 to identify how we can move forward.

The Lord Mayor also noted that this was an opportunity for new Councillors to learn from Advisory Committee representatives.


The Lord Mayor proposed, and it was agreed, that each representative would speak for 5 minutes and then there would be 40 minutes set aside for questions from Councillors and discussion.


2. ATSI Advisory Committee- represented by Chairperson, Bruce Gale

Bruce Gale thanked the Lord Mayor and Councillors for the invitation to speak. The main points of Bruce’s presentation included:


Bruce had been a member of the ATSI Advisory Committee since 1991

-     the Committee has a lot to do with Council events including NAIDOC Flag Raising and Burramatta Family Day and Sorry Day Flag Raising. These events have helped to raise the profile of indigenous communities and have generated a lot of interest in Parramatta as the 2nd Settlement city

-     an email network has been developed between committee members

-     the Committee has developed a 5 year Plan which outlines their achievements over the last 5 years and their plans for the next 5 years

Action: Plan to be re-distributed to Councillors

-     the Terms of Reference state what the Committee needs to provide- community issues are raised via members and then presented to Council

-     the Committee receives a lot of support from Council- including support for NAIDOC which is the best NAIDOC event in Sydney

-     different schools are encouraged for different projects regarding culture

-     the Committee recognises it can improve its work


3. Access Advisory Committee- represented by John Moxon

John Moxon thanked the Lord Mayor and Councillors for the opportunity to speak. The main points of John’s presentation included: 

-     it is important to understand the Committee is not about welfare but about doing what we can to help Council enable people with disabilities to participate in Parramatta- in education, recreation, business, life… so people can get out of their houses and into Parramatta

-     the Committee is also about assisting Council to make decisions that will not have financial implications in the longer term i.e. uninformed decisions can be inadvertently made that need undoing or turn out to be discriminatory

-     20% of people within the community have a disability i.e. something that prevents them undertaking daily activities with ease

-     15% of people have a long-term condition

-     20% of Indigenous peoples, Culturally And Linguistically Diverse (CALD) groups also have a disability. The only variation is across ages- i.e. older people often develop disabilities with ageing

-     the ageing population means we will have more people with disabilities- but these people will continue to want to access services

-     96% of people with a disability live in their homes and 55% have paid jobs

i.e. vast majority want to participate in society

-     disabilities covers a broad range and Council needs to consider all disabilities in pre-planning processes

-     under the Anti-Discrimination Act, Council must take into account the needs of people with disabilities. For example:

o Building Code of Australia (and other legislation) sets out minimum requirements. Some of Council’s buildings meet these standards but minimum standards do not always ensure easy access.  For example, Council Officers responsible for constructing the ramps at the front of Council Chambers could have consulted with the Access Committee. As this was not done, there are ongoing access issues around Council Chambers

o Town Hall ramps at front of the building – the angle of the turn is too tight for some motorized vehicles. There is also no ramp that allows exit from the back of the Hall in the event of a fire in the front of the building. This is an OH&S hazard.

-     the Access Advisory Committee wants to help Council and can save Council money, loss of face and disability discrimination claims.

-     Committee requests Council utilize their expertise regularly to ensure mistakes are not made in the planning stage that require rectification and are costly after construction

-     Committee wants to work with whole of Council to develop efficient, effective, appropriate input mechanism


4. Arts Advisory Committee- represented by Katherine Knight

Katherine Knight thanked the Lord Mayor and Councillors for the invitation to speak. The main points of Katherine’s presentation included:

-     the Arts Advisory Committee started in 1992 and has strong membership from its beginning

-     a number of Councillors have regularly attended especially in its early years

-     the Committee has been responsible for lifting  the importance and profile of the arts in the area- particularly in its early years when there was only one Council Arts Officer

-     the Terms of Reference have been updated regularly

-     the Committee has a number of achievements including the establishment of the Heritage Centre, arts infrastructure program, identifying the need for a new gallery, shopfront temporary gallery, feedback on the development of the arts in the area, assistance in the arts grants in Council’s Community Grants Program, Cultural Plan, Arts Facilities and Cultural Framework 

-     the Committee has effectively completed its work and there are now several additional stakeholders in the arts that are not part of the Committee including Riverside Theatre, new arts networks, Parramatta Artists Network, Information Cultural Exchange, Western Sydney Dance Action and Parramatta Artists Studios. In addition Council has a larger team of arts staff which will continue to grow

-     the Committee does not want to be re-established and suggests starting a new structure which needs more input from diverse people/ groups/ agencies

-     the recent report on tourism identified that visitors to the city want to see what is local. It is important that Parramatta celebrates its uniqueness and develops unique celebrations for example an inclusive Australia Day event

-     offered thanks to Val Squires and Andrew Overton for their work on and with the Committee


5. Community Safety- represented by Christine Berle

Christine Burle thanked the Lord Mayor and Councillors for the invitation to speak. The main points of Christine’s presentation included:

-     Christine  has been a member of the Committee since 2004

-     originally, the Committee presented the views and interests of Parramatta community and would provide feedback to Council regarding community safety. It was noted that ‘community safety’ extends beyond crime prevention

-     initially the Committee was very busy, however, it has since become less active and for some time membership has been low and attendance poor: agency representatives fall away due to staff turnover and it is difficult to get convenient times to meet

-     Christine has not been able to attend a Committee meeting for several months, however, no other member was available tonight to address Councillors

-     in 2007, the Committee tried to work on two projects: ‘Graffiti’ and ‘Positive Images of Parramatta’, however, commitment to the projects dropped away so the sub-committees did not achieve their aims.

-     More recently the Committee commented on the CBD Crime Prevention Plan and agreed to integrate it into their work

-     Successes have included the development of a Business Safety Kit and a letter regarding the name change of Parramatta Bail Court was written to the NSW Attorney General

-     the Committee currently does not have clear focus and has not been recently engaged by Council to input on any policy or  planning

-     if the Committee is to be re-established, the Terms of Reference need to be re-written; the Committee should not focus on the CBD alone; other groups’ safety needs/ concerns need to be addressed (including children’s, women’s, CALD communities and men’s needs and concerns).


 6.  Cycleways Advisory Committee -  represented by Ian Macindoe and Michael Goard

Ian Macindoe thanked the Lord Mayor and Councillors for the invitation to speak. The main points of Ian’s presentation included:

-     a brief history of the Committee was given

-     the Committee holds a high level of technical expertise which it provides to Council staff. One member of the Committee attends Council’s Traffic Committee

-     several RTA Technical Directions were circulated which the committee is aware of

-     Council would be required to pay external consultants for the advice the Committee can provide

-     an outline of various important issues which the Committee has discussed at various times was presented including:

o Feasibility of connecting Lake Parramatta Reserve and Baulkham Hills

o Parramatta Heritage Rides (i.e. using bikes to visit Heritage sites)

o Review of cycleways on northern side of river

o Liverpool to Parramatta Rail trail (actions forwarded to RTA)

o Northwest T-way cycleway


-     Examples of more recent Committee priorities were also given including:

o Pot holes Station Rd/ Fleet St.

o Coin operated bike cages

o Epping Railway Station bike parking

o $1.5 million Grant handled by Honourable Julie Owens office


- The Committee’s primary concerns are safety (on road and off road) and engineering/ designs that improve safety.


7. Heritage Advisory Committee- represented by Carol Liston

Carol Liston, a member since the Committee’s foundation, thanked the Council for the opportunity to participate in this discussion/dialogue and noted that this was the first time since the Heritage Committee’s inception that this has occurred.

The main points of Carol’s presentation included:

-     initially the Heritage Committee functioned as a lobbyist seeking heritage protection of buildings

-     during the late 1990s it was involved in considering development applications and preservation issues

-     in recent years, the Committee’s function has changed to respond to consultant and officer reports

-     the committee represents a wide range of interests

-     it provides assistance with grants under the Local Heritage Fund and this is considered a success story.  It was noted that it was no longer directly involved with community grants

-     a matter of importance is the 150 items of State significance in the LGA which should be on the State Heritage Register

-     the Committee wishes to help Council in any way it can, noting that it is dependent on advice from Council staff.  However, it will seek to get involved in relevant issues

-     the Committee remains enthusiastic about promoting heritage in the LGA.



8. Multicultural Advisory Committee- represented by Mlinder Kumar

Mlinder Kumar thanked the Lord Mayor and Councillors for the invitation to speak:

The main points of Mlinder’s presentation were:

-     the committee provides advice on a range of issues related to CALD communities

-     Mlinder joined the committee in 2005 and the Committee at this point was functioning

-     as time has passed there has not been enough interest as there are now many other multicultural platforms in Parramatta LGA,

-     there has been low attendance and as members do not bring up issues, the Committee has lacked focus

-     the Committee did undertake a successful Religious Understanding Project in 2007

-     membership is difficult to maintain as the same members attend different meetings i.e. members are too thinly spread across a number of meeting forums

-     currently some CALD communities are not represented on the Committee

-     for actions to be successful they require more focus, goals and objectives need to be set so a focus can be maintained and members need to be more committed

-     public involvement is very important – MAC could hold meetings and open them to the public


9. Youth Advisory Committee- represented by Lisa Kim

Lisa Kim thanked the Lord Mayor and Councillors for the invitation to speak. The main points of Lisa’s presentation included:

-     Lisa has been a member of the Committee for some years however has not attended as meeting for the last year as she has been on a student exchange program in Austria- no other representative was able to attend tonight, so she agreed to be the representative

-     the Committee has been involved in a number of projects in the last 4 years including:

o developed promotional flyers, posters and wrist bands in 2007

o commented on the Community Grants review

o discussed the Westfields Youth Protocol

o participated in workshop run by Commonwealth Department of  Family and Community Services on youth participation structures

o attended the YoWest Conference (for members of YACs across Western Sydney)

-     the Committee has planned a number of actions which have not eventuated including Youth Week activities in 2008- a lot of planning happened but people fell away in the end

-     for the last 2 years there have been many months in the year when there has not been a quorum and/or meetings have been cancelled because of a lack of quorum. There are a number of reasons why the Committee is not functioning well including:

o membership base is too narrow- members are all active students in Years 11 and 12 or 1st year university and have strong commitment to study so stop attending when school work / exams are on the horizon

o young people have a lot of things happening in their lives- examples of ‘changes’ for current members- moving house, exams, becoming engaged, being a carer for a grandparent/ siblings, going overseas

-     support from Council has been strong- the Committee has received a lot of resources and support

-     the current format of the Committee doesn’t really suit the needs of young people in terms of how they want to have input


10: Responses from Councillors


Clr  Paul Garrard

-     expressed his support of having this discussion

-     acknowledged all the work of members

-     recognized that some committees were bound by statutory requirements (Heritage, Cycleways and Access)

-     recognized that some committees have problems and that perhaps alternatives would be better options

-     suggestion that committees are set up to do certain jobs then disbanded once tasks were completed

-     he was impressed by the work of the Youth Advisory Committee but noted no Committee in 10 years could achieve the work they had listed

-     suggested Council hold a Year for Youth in Parramatta and focus on one event/ theme


Clr Andrew Bide

-      thanked everyone involved in the workshop, particularly those presenting

-      acknowledged the ‘refreshing candidness’ of some of the reports

-     questioned whether committees could be better utilized by Council

-     acknowledged all the work of members and that volunteers get tired and need re-invigorating

-     questioned the extent to which membership is representative of all wards and suggested a membership base of 30-40 people across all wards to avoid being ‘city-centric’. He also suggested Councillors could identify potential representatives from wards

-     made himself available to committees unless he was otherwise busy

-     recognized expertise available through committees to Council


Clr Glenn Elmore

-     impressed by the presentations of representatives and thanked them for their time

-     acknowledged all the work of members

-     while Committees can be ‘cumbersome’ he felt that all committees are important to Council and wants all kept. It is important that Council know what some groups want/ need – e.g. Youth and Disabled people

-     suggested committees are given more direction and support from Council and Councillors


Councillor Elmore asked the Lord Mayor for clarification regarding what would happen after this meeting regarding the Advisory Committees. Lord Mayor, Clr Issa advised that Council Officers would prepare a report and recommendations that would then be submitted to Council meeting for a decision.


Clr Xavier Lim

-     focussed on the lack of quantitative data related to outcomes of each committee eg how many people benefit from/use cycleways, how many new migrants have been successfully integrated into the LGA and how many use local services, how many people in Parramatta access our art etc

-     acknowledged all the work of members and the intriguing presentations

-     suggested the committees are too task focussed and not enough focus is given to how many people are impacted by the work of the committees or what their vision is

-     suggested new committees: environment, families and technology

-     suggested ongoing debate about relevance of committees

-     asked why Northcott & Technical Aid for the Disabled are not promoted more widely by the Access Committee– they are in our LGA and should be better promoted by Parramatta

-     concerned regarding the reports of some Committees as they suggest terminating them: he is not comfortable with terminating volunteers


Clr Lorraine Wearne

-     suggested committees are reinvented and re-invigorated and that Councillors attend Committees

-     acknowledged all the work of members

-     need to listen to what the membership wants to ensure input mechanism structure is relevant

-     Access, Cycleways /Heritage have a strong skills base in their membership which Council needs to tap into

-     noted that Council’s Heritage Consultant only works 2 days per week – an expansion of that role is needed

-     asked how Committees could be refocused/ restructured, eg could YAC look at engaging through technology such as facebook?

-     up to committees to say why they should be wound up – decision of committees, not Council

-     Council should look at the relevance of Terms of Reference


Clr  Prabir Maitra

-     acknowledged all the work of members and gave thanks to all who presented tonight

-     acknowledged that voluntary work is hard as people are very busy

-     offered more Council support to the committees

-     suggested re-invigoration of committees eg multicultural committee which could try to get representation from a broader range of cultural groups

-     some Committees are struggling and there is a correlation between the agenda/scope of their work and membership: it is important to set goals for the Committees


Clr Michael McDermott

-     acknowledged all the work of members

-     spoke to his experience in ATSI communities, access issues (through parks committees), arts (through family), community safety (common sense), cycleways (as former athlete), heritage (belief in heritage as the cradle of the nation), multiculturalism (belief that it should be celebrated), youth (belief that they need support to reach their potential)


Lord Mayor, Clr Tony Issa

-     acknowledged all the work of members

-     he has served on numerous committees in the past

-     recognised there needs to be commitment on the part of Councillors to serve on committees

-     the link between committees and Council is the Councillors It is important that all Councillors attend one or two Committees. The ATSI Committee has always invited all Councillors to attend their functions/ events and has the support of the Mayor or Deputy Lord Mayor. Council is supporting the 2010 Local Government and Aboriginal and Network Conference in 2010 as it will be a great benefit to Council

-     representatives from each ward should be on committees

-     in 1991 there were 14/16 Council Advisory Committees