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Special Committees - Management of committee

This section suggests good work practices. There are basic procedures to follow that provide solid structures for operations - large or small. Many of these procedures are common to all kinds of committees throughout the community, not just Special Committees of Council.

Code of Conduct

Special Committees of Council are expected to uphold Council’s values in all their responsibilities in managing the facility.

All committee members must:

• Act with integrity;
• Impartially exercise their responsibilities in the interests of the local community;
• Not improperly seek to confer an advantage or disadvantage on any person;
• Endeavour to ensure that public resources are used prudently and solely in the public interest;
• Fulfil obligations to transparently and honestly report the use of Council funds, resources and assets.

All committee members should:

• Treat people with dignity and respect;
• Debate contentious issues without resorting to personal acrimony or insult;
• Share the workload and work cooperatively;
• Accept majority decisions, respected by those for and against the argument;
• Seek advice and guidance when required.

Conflicts of Interest

A conflict of interest arises when a person has to make a decision on an issue in which they have, or are perceived to have, a personal interest in or where they may benefit in a particular outcome. For example, the Committee is voting on whether to hire Fred’s Mowing Services and Fred’s brother is a member of the committee.

A committee member with a conflict should be disqualified from discussing and voting on issues in which they have a conflict of interest. Often, people will leave the room once they have declared their conflict. However, this is not always practical, particularly since it could mean that the committee no longer has a majority of voting members present (a quorum).

Private interests should not be confused with specialist knowledge, which is not a conflict of interest. For example, a member who is in the field of work, but who is not tendering for the work, may have useful specialist knowledge.

Fraud Control

To ensure transparency and to reduce the risk of fraud:

• Office bearers (chair, treasurer and secretary) should not be related to one another;
• The two office bearers signing off on financial or banking matters should not be related to one another;
• Office bearers cannot reimburse or pay themselves, or a family member, for expenses.

Committee members will be dismissed from the committee if they are found to have committed fraud. Council may also pursue prosecution in the Civil or Criminal Courts, including action to recover losses.

It is the responsibility of all committee members to prevent, detect and report fraud in their area of operation.

Examples of common types of fraud relevant to the operation of a committee include:

• Abuse of position or power for personal gain;
• Accepting kickbacks, gifts or bribes in exchange for preferential treatment;
• Theft of cash collected by the committee;
• Theft of Council assets - this may include computers, stationery, tools, cameras etc;
• Intentional failure to raise invoices;
• Falsifying and paying invoices for goods and services not provided;
• Falsified petty cash claims;
• Purchasing items for unauthorised personal use;
• Unauthorised personal use of Council equipment;
• Misuse of Council information and branding.

Reporting fraud

All committee members are expected to report suspected fraud if they become aware of it. It is important not to confront a person suspected of fraud.

If a committee member is invited to participate in fraudulent activities, the committee member must report the suspicion of fraud in writing to Council’s Chief Executive Officer marked "Private and Confidential".

If a committee member suspects the CEO is potentially implicated in the fraud, the report must be made in writing to the Mayor marked "Private and Confidential".

The report should be as detailed as possible, including the details of the suspected fraud, the people allegedly involved, reasons for suspicions, and any available evidence.

Council is committed to the aims and objectives of the Whistleblowers Protection Act 2001. Therefore, the identity of the person reporting the suspected fraud will only be disclosed or discussed with those persons who require such knowledge in the proper performance of their office or function. The person reporting the suspected fraud will not be victimised or disadvantaged.

Members and risk management

It is the responsibility of all committee members to take all possible measures to ensure the safety of other members and users of the facility.

The committee may appoint a risk management officer to manage these responsibilities. This is strongly recommended as the most effective way of ensuring these obligations are met.

All members should:

• Develop a basic understanding of Occupational Health & Safety regulations and Risk Management Principles in accordance with Australian Standards;
• Ensure that the committee is aware of and implements measures to mitigate risks at the facility;
• Ensure that Council Occupational Health & Safety policies and procedures are implemented, monitored and reviewed for compliance;
• Ensure all reasonable steps are taken to protect the public, and take reasonable care to avoid foreseeable risk of injury to anyone lawfully entering the facility;
• Carry out inspections of assets under the control of the committee and any user groups. The committee should note any issues and send a copy of the report to Council;
• Report all incidents to Council involving actual or potential harm to persons or property. Reporting incidents to Council also prevents committee members from being prosecuted for failing to report notifiable incidents to WorkSafe, as required by Health and Safety legislation;
• Ensure that user groups of the facility have the necessary public liability and asset protection insurance, where applicable;
• Ensure that hirers of the facility (casual and seasonal) comply with Occupational Health And Safety guidelines;
• Ensure the committee notifies Council and the relevant emergency response agency in the event of a crisis at the facility (i.e. fire, serious injury, etc). Council will be able to provide advice and expertise in helping to manage the crisis.

More information is available on the Insurance and Risk page.

Council contact officers can assist if required.

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