Public Gallery Conduct Standards
If you're coming along to one of our Council meetings, these are the rules you will need to follow.
Our Council Chamber is located on Level 10 of our administration building at 41 Burelli Street, Wollongong. The Chamber is reached using a security lift.
Lift access will be closed half an hour after the start of each meeting. If you arrive later than this, ask for assistance at our central library, which is on the ground floor of the building.
If the Chamber is declared full, no further access to the public will be granted.
Everyone in the public gallery (the area set aside for the public) must sit in one of the seats provided. For safety reasons, no standing is permitted. We have several spaces on the western side of the Chamber for people with wheelchairs.
If all seats are occupied, the Chamber will be declared full, and no further public access will be allowed.
These are the standards you must follow when in the Public Gallery:
- Members of the public are invited to attend Council meetings as observers. You must not interrupt meeting procedures or engage in any disorderly conduct.
- You may not address or approach the Councillors during the meeting.
- Any items that are considered by Council staff to potentially cause discomfort or a safety risk to anyone else in the Chamber will not be permitted.
- Mobile phones and other electronic devices must be switched off or set to silent during the meeting.
- No food or drink is allowed in the Chamber.
- You cannot film, photograph or record the meeting (even in part) without prior written permission from Council. Media representatives are excepted, however no audio recordings can be made. Media representatives must identify themselves to Council staff before filming or photographing in the Chamber.
Under the Local Government Act, the Chair may exclude any member of the public from the gallery for disorderly conduct.
This may include eviction by the Police where necessary.
Members of the public can ask to speak at Council meetings. This is called our Public Access Forum.
A limited number of places are available to speak at each meeting.
To speak at a public forum, a person must first make an application to Council using our Public Access Forum application form PDF, 78.4 KB
Applications to speak at the public forum must be received by 12 noon on the working day before the date on which the public forum is to be held. Applications must identify the item of business on the meeting agenda which the person wishes to speak on, and whether they wish to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ the item.
Legal representatives acting on behalf of others are not permitted to speak at a public forum unless they identify their status as a legal representative when applying to speak at the public forum.
The General Manager or their delegate may refuse an application to speak at a public forum. No more than two speakers will be permitted to speak ‘for’ or ‘against’ each item of business on the agenda for the Council meeting
Each speaker will be allowed five minutes to address the Council. This will be strictly enforced by the chairperson.
For more details see our Code of Meeting Practice policy PDF, 280.83 KB.
Council meetings are public gatherings. Any person making a remark or acting in a way which is offensive, defamatory or discriminatory should consider the legal implications before doing so.
All Council meetings are broadcast live via the internet to enhance public access to the deliberations of Council.
By attending a meeting you consent to the possibility that your image and any statements made may be broadcast to the public.
Any personal and health information voluntarily disclosed by any person at Council meetings may be broadcast to the public, held by Council and made available to the public for later viewing.
Recordings of meetings are “government information” held by Council in accordance with the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.
Council accepts no responsibility for defamatory, discriminatory or offensive statements made by any person which may be broadcast or held by Council.
Parts of the meeting that have been closed to the public are not webcast.
Sometimes Council may discuss items that are confidential, and the meeting moves into 'closed session' mode. When this happens, the reasons for the discussion to be confidential will be explained before the discussion begins. Under the Local Government Act, all members of the gallery, including media, must leave the Chamber.
Where a matter is identified in the Council meeting agenda as likely to be considered in closed session, members of the public can submit a request that the matter not be closed. Clear reasons must be provided. Applications must be received by using the Closed Session Representation application PDF, 17.95 KB no later than 12 noon on the working day before the meeting at which the matter is to be considered.
The General Manager (or their delegate) may refuse an application. The General Manager or their delegate must give reasons in writing for a decision to refuse an application.
During a meeting, before any part of the meeting is closed to the public, the Council may allow members of the public to present an argument against closing that part of the meeting. No more than two speakers are allowed on each matter.
Minutes of Council meetings will usually be posted to our website the day after the meeting. Time frames may vary due to technical or other issues.
See our Business Papers page for minutes.
If you have a question or comment about how Council meetings are run, please email us or call (02) 4227 7111.
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