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Special Committees - Holding meetings

There are procedures to be followed when the committee holds a meeting. These include notice of the meeting, preparation of the agenda, the way to make decisions, declaring conflicts of interest, and the accurate recording of the meeting through the minutes.

The number of committee meetings that should be held is noted in the instrument of delegation (Section 10 – Meetings of the special committee). It is usually at least four times a year including the annual general meeting.

Notice of the meeting

The committee is representing the community and Council in the management of the facility and meetings must be open to the public.

Visitors can take part in discussions only at the invitation of the chairperson, and cannot propose motions or vote. The committee is allowed to exclude visitors from confidential issues.

The committee must give public notice of at least 7 days before a regular meeting or Annual General Meeting (AGM). A “public notice” may constitute a notice in the local newspaper, flyers posted on notice boards, or meeting information posted on social media.

If the committee has notified Council of their meeting schedule, the date of the AGM will be published in the Council Column in the Midland Express and on Council’s website. The committee should also publish general meeting dates online, on community notice boards, or in local newsletters.

The meeting schedule should be included in the committee’s Annual Return.

Preparing the agenda

An agenda template has been provided on the Templates page. The committee may use its own template, but similar information must be included.

Usually the secretary, in consultation with the chairperson, prepares the agenda, but all committee members can nominate items of business to be included.

The agenda should be sent to all committee members at least a week before the meeting, along with minutes of the previous meeting.

Members of the public can nominate an item for discussion as well, but they must raise it with the secretary in writing before the meeting, and the committee can then decide if the issue needs to be raised at that meeting or deferred to the next one.

A typical agenda will include the following:

• Details of time and place of meeting (Notice of Meeting);
• List of all members, and any non-members invited to attend;
• Apologies;
• Minutes of the previous meeting;
• Conflict of Interest;
• Correspondence inwards;
• Correspondence outwards;
• Secretary’s report;
• Treasurer’s report;
• General business.

Attending meetings

Committee members are expected to attend all meetings, though unexpected circumstances such as illness, family crisis or other approved reasons may result in absences. If a committee member cannot attend a meeting, they should contact the chairperson, secretary or other office bearer, and the apology will be recorded in the minutes. It is important that apologies are sent and accepted by the committee. A member may lose their position on a committee if they miss three consecutive meetings without approval.

If the chairperson has not arrived within 15 minutes after the meeting start time, the committee can elect an alternative chairperson, provided there is a quorum present.

Making sure there is a quorum

For the decision made at a meeting to have legal standing, there must be a quorum present. A quorum is half the membership of the committee plus one, that is, a majority of members. The number of members the committee should have is defined in the Instrument of Delegation.

If a quorum is not present, members can either elect to continue the meeting but hold decisions over until the next meeting, or choose to postpone the meeting. If the meeting is postponed, it must be held within two weeks of the original meeting date.

Making decisions / motions

Each decision of the committee should be made by a formal motion, even if everyone agrees, and recorded in the minutes. Any committee member can raise a motion. Members of the public, co-opted members and ex-officio members cannot raise motions or vote. Committee proposes action or direction > Committee makes a formal motion > Motion is seconded by another committee member or defeated > if motion is seconded, all members vote > motion is passed if it receives a majority vote

The minutes should record the wording of the motion, who moved it, who seconded it, and whether it was passed or defeated. Committees can record who voted for and against a motion if they wish.

Committees may have motions that are more complicated and contentious, arising from their discussions on how to proceed with a project or manage their reserve/facility. In such cases, it may be useful for the motion to be written down and read out or circulated before voting, so that everyone is clear about what is being decided.

If a vote is tied, the chairperson has a second or casting vote. A committee can only make decisions (i.e. move and pass motions) if a quorum of its membership is at the meeting.

Public participation

All committee meetings are open to the public, though members of the public cannot vote. The form of public participation at any committee meeting is at the discretion of the committee, and may range from simply allowing the public to witness the committee’s proceedings to actively encouraging input into the discussion of general business.

If a member of the public is disruptive or interrupts a meeting, the chairperson should intervene and request that they be quiet and be seated. If the interruption continues, the chairperson can request that the person leave the meeting.

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.

Keeping good public records is crucial for a committee to be regarded as open and transparent in managing conflicts of interest. The committee minutes must record how conflicts of interest were handled.

The minutes must record:

• Which members declared a conflict and what the conflict was;
• If the committee member left the room (at what time he left/returned and at what stage of the discussion), and;
• The result of the discussion and the decision made.

For more information on Conflicts of Interest, please see the Victorian State Government Conflict of Interest Guide for members of Council Committees.

Minutes

Minutes are a legal record of a meeting and must be kept for all meetings of the committee. They should record decisions, rather than who said what. Minutes can be taken by any member of the committee. A template is provided on the Templates page.

At a minimum, the minutes should record:

•    The time the meeting started and finished;
•    The place of the meeting;
•    The names of the committee members present;
•    The time of any arrivals or departures of members during the meeting;
•    A list of all items of business considered;
•    The exact wording of any motions moved, including the name of the mover and seconder, and the mover and seconder of any amendments to the motion;
•    A record of any or all of the members who supported or opposed the motion, if requested by any member;
•    The failure of a quorum;
•    The results of consideration of any motions – carried, lost, withdrawn, lapsed or amended;
•    Details of any questions taken on notice;
•    Details of any deputations made to the committee, or any guest speakers;
•    Disclosure of any conflict of interest of any member.

The minutes should enable Council, a committee member or member of the community not present at the meeting to be informed of all actions and decisions arising from the meeting, and the reasons for those actions and decisions.

The minutes should be sent to the chairperson, who reviews them to ensure that they are accurate. The reviewed minutes must be forwarded to the Council contact officer within one month of the meeting. 

The minutes should be circulated to the committee with the agenda for the next meeting at least 7 days before the meeting. They are presented at the next committee meeting to be confirmed as being a true and accurate record. The motion endorsing the minutes of a previous meeting should only be moved and seconded by members who actually attended.

Once the minutes have been endorsed by the committee they cannot be altered.Agenda sent to committee members > Meeting held, decision made only is a quorum is present > all decisions recorded > Minutes completed by secretary and sent to chairperson for review > minutes forwarded to council contact officer within one month of meeting

The Annual General Meeting (AGM)

The AGM is a public meeting where the committee reports to its community. The AGM should be held after the end of the financial year, and before the Annual Return is due in November. The AGM is held to:

• Confirm the minutes of the previous AGM;
• Receive and adopt the statements of the chairperson and secretary on the previous 12 months activities;
• Receive and adopt the treasurer’s report, including financial statements;
• Confirm the Annual Return is a true and correct record;
• Nominate and elect committee members and office bearers for the coming year.

The AGM should be advertised one month in advance in local newspapers, on public notice boards and via a mail-out to users of the facility. The public notice of an AGM should include the time and place of the meeting and how people can view the agenda and previous minutes.

Committee members should receive the agenda, reports, and minutes from the last AGM at least one week before the meeting. Attendees can ask questions of the committee (only in the time set aside in the meeting to do so), but the AGM is not a forum for taking motions from the floor or for voting on proposals. These actions can only be undertaken by committee members, and any such business should be held over to the next regular meeting.

Voting

The chairperson will declare the committee and office bearer positions vacant and hand over the proceedings of the meeting to a third party who is not a member of the committee to:
• List all nominations for membership received prior to the meeting;
• Call for additional nominations;
• Verify the eligibility of all nominations as defined by the instrument of delegation;
• After a reasonable interval, declare nominations closed;
• If the number of candidates is less than the number of vacancies, declare all candidates as the successful recommended candidates;
• If the number of candidates exceeds the number of vacancies, announce that an election will be held;
• Check that all persons wishing to vote are eligible;
• Conduct the vote;
• Announce the result of the vote and confirm the members of the committee.

Everyone present at the AGM is allowed to vote on committee membership. Voting should be should be done by a show of hands. Proxy votes and postal votes are not allowed.

Once the committee has been appointed, the chairperson can call for nominations for office bearers.

Nominating office bearers

Once the committee members have been appointed, the committee needs to elect office bearers.

Any committee member can nominate to become an office bearer. Nominations can be filed in writing with the committee before the AGM or be tabled at the meeting. Candidates can self-nominate or be nominated by another member of the committee. The committee then vote to accept the nomination or not.

Only committee members present can vote to appoint office bearers.

Where the previous office bearers wish to retain their positions, and there are no new nominations, the committee can vote to reappoint all office bearers.

Appointing office bearers to the committee

After the AGM, a list of members and office bearers must be forwarded to the Council contact officer. The nominations will go to Council for appointment at a Council Meeting. The committee will receive formal notification that its members have been appointed (within two months of nominations being received).

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