How to have your say in Council
How can you have your say?
All Councils in NSW are independent, locally elected corporate bodies. Local communities are encouraged to have a say in what their Council does and how they do it. There are a number of ways that you can participate in council affairs.
Vote in elections, referendums and polls
Elections of Councillors are held every four years in NSW. You don’t have to own a house or be a ratepayer to vote, but your name must be on the council electoral roll in your local government area (Narrabri Shire). It is very important to vote because the people who are elected are responsible for deciding what the council does. You may be fined by the Australian Electoral Commission if you don’t vote.
Run for election as a local government councillor
Your Council One of the best ways to have a say in your council is to stand for election as a councillor. Our booklet ‘So you’re thinking of becoming a Local Government councillor’ helps to explain how to go about this.
Attend council meetings
Anyone can attend council meetings, whether it is a meeting of the whole council or one of council’s committees. To find out the times and places of these meetings, contact your council or check your local newspaper. Narrabri Shire Council sets aside time at the beginning of its meetings for members of the public to speak on items within the agenda. This is called Speaking in the Public Forum. You need to contact Council prior to the meeting if you wish to do this. Council meetings may sometimes be closed to the public if they are discussing confidential information.
Participate in council committees
Councils often set up committees to help them develop various plans and policies. If you want to find out about or participate in these committees, contact council.
Look at council documents
Members of the public are entitled to have access to a range of council documents. Access is usually free, but you may have to pay reasonable photocopying charges.
For more information about obtaining council documents, please visit the page on How to Access Council Information.
Participating in the development of council plans and policies
Having a say in the development of council plans and policies helps to make sure that your needs are taken into account and the final plan or policy benefits you and your community.
Draft plans are usually put on public exhibition for at least 28 days in which time you can submit your comment to Council.
Some of the plans you can have a say in include your council’s:
Operational Plan- this plan contains the main activities the council plans to carry out and what they hope to achieve by these activities. This plan is part of Council's Integrated Planning and Reporting framework.
Social or community plans- this plan identifies and includes action to address the needs of specific groups in the community such as children, women, older people, people with disabilities, and people from different cultural backgrounds.
Plans of management for community land- these plans indentify important features of community land, explain how it will be managed, and how it may be used or developed.
Read councils Annual Report
Your council’s annual report can show you whether programs that affect your community have actually been implemented and how well they have been implemented.
Provide customer feedback
If you are pleased with a particular council service or member of staff, contact the council and let them know this.
If you have a problem with your council, talk to council staff first. If you are not satisfied with their response, you could contact the mayor or your elected councilors. If you are not satisfied with the way council has handled your complaint, you should contact the Department of Local Government or the NSW Ombudsman.