Changes to City of Onkaparinga Council meetings

Published on 25 January 2023

Following the disruption to the 17 January Council meeting, the City of Onkaparinga will introduce several changes to ensure meetings can continue safely and effectively.

“Our number one priority is to ensure the public, staff and elected members are safe, and remain safe, when participating in the democratic process of a Council meeting,” Mayor Moira Were said.

The adjourned meeting will resume next Monday 30 January, and to make sure everyone is safe, the following changes will remain in place until further notice:

  • Additional seats will be brought back into the public gallery. The capacity of the gallery will be 35 people, and reserved seats will be available for people making a deputation.
  • The room activated to respond to COVID-19 capacity limits was never designed to be used for public viewing of Council meetings, and will now remain locked during Council meetings.
  • There will be security on site, as per normal practice for all Council meetings.
  • As per common practice in meetings held by other SA councils, attendees in the public gallery will need to sign in and provide their name and phone number. They will also need to sign out. Security staff will manage this process.
  • Once the public gallery is full, no further people will be allowed to enter the building until someone leaves.
  • Anyone unable to sit in the public gallery due to capacity limits will be able to view a complete video of the council meeting, along with detailed minutes, both of which are uploaded to the council website, usually on the Thursday following each meeting.

“These changes were informed by our own WHS incident investigation into the disruption at the 17 January meeting, and consultation with other councils, the Local Government Association and SAPOL,” Mayor Were said.

“We will continue to review our WHS risk assessments to ensure they are effective and appropriate.

“Our aim is to facilitate the objectives of the Local Government Act 1999, which includes conducting Council meetings in a place open to the public, while complying with our duty under the Work Health Safety Act 2012 to protect the health and safety of our staff and all other persons who enter our workplace.

“We will not tolerate any disruptive or aggressive behaviour that jeopardises anyone’s safety or attempts to circumvent the democratic process.

“Councils have always been the level of government closest to the community. It is disappointing that the actions of a few have impacted on our ability to maintain a more open and accessible meeting process, but the safety of our people is paramount.”

A report regarding the possible introduction of live streaming of Council meetings will be presented at a future meeting for consideration.