Public forums

Council encourages you to participate in its decision-making processes and to voice your opinion on matters it's considering.

Before each ordinary meeting, Council holds a public forum to hear from members of the community about items on its agenda.

Public forums may also be held before extraordinary Council meetings and Council committee meetings.

If you wish to speak at a public forum, you must apply using the online form.

Register to speak at a public forum

Application process

Before you can speak at a public forum, you must apply using the online form.

Applications to speak open when the Council business paper is published, usually on the Wednesday before the meeting, and close at noon on the Friday before the meeting.

In your application, you must tell us:

  • the item of business on the Council meeting agenda that you wish to address, and
  • whether you are ‘for’ or ‘against’ the item.

Council does not accept applications to speak on matters that are not on the meeting agenda. 

The General Manager or their delegate may refuse an application to speak at a public forum. If this occurs, you will be given written reasons for the refusal.

We will notify you of the outcome of your application by 4.30pm on the Friday before the meeting.

Supporting information

If you wish to distribute material such as written statements, drawings or photographs to Councillors, please provide 14 copies to Council’s Governance section by midday on the Friday before the public forum. 

If you wish to make an electronic presentation (for example, using PowerPoint) you must attach a copy to your application. The General Manager must approve this material before it's used on the day of the forum.

Public forum times and location

The public forum is usually held at 4.30pm on the Monday before the ordinary Council meeting.

If your application to speak at the public forum has been accepted, you must arrive at the Council Chambers, corner of Elbow and Tozer Streets, West Kempsey, no later than 4.15pm. 

Conduct of speakers

When speaking at the public forum, you must adhere to Council’s Code of Meeting Practice(PDF, 493KB). You can view a paper copy of the code at the Kempsey Library and on request from Council’s Customer Service Centre at 22 Tozer Street, West Kempsey.

You must not engage in disorderly conduct, publicly allege breaches of the Council’s Code of Conduct  or make other potentially defamatory statements.

Speaking at the public forum does not include an opportunity to ask questions of Councillors or Council staff. 

Time limits

If your application is approved, you will be given five minutes to address Council. The chairperson strictly enforces this time limit.

A Councillor may ask you questions after you address the public forum. Your answer to each question is limited to one minute. You are not obliged to answer any question if you do not wish to. 

If the chairperson consents, the General Manager or their nominee may address the Council for up to five minutes in response to your address. This would occur once any questions and answers had been finalised.

Withdrawing your application

If you no longer wish to make an address at the public forum, please phone or email Council immediately to withdraw your application.

Your questions answered

What happens after I submit my application?

Your application will be sent to Council’s Governance section and considered on the Friday before the public forum.

Council’s Governance team apply the following criteria to decide on applications:

  • Applications must be complete and include a summary of the proposed address to Council.
  • Only one speaker is permitted to speak ‘for’ each item of business on the agenda and one ‘against’.
  • Applications are selected that allow Council to hear a broad range of views on the item of business.
  • Priority is given to people who have not addressed the public forum about the same item previously.
  • A person may apply to speak on no more than two items of business on the agenda of the Council meeting.

Can my application be refused?

Yes. Under Council’s Code of Meeting Practice, the General Manager or their delegate may refuse an application. If this occurs, you will be notified in writing of this decision and the reasons for it.

How will I know if my application has been approved?

If your application has been approved, you will be advised by email by 4.30pm on the Friday before the public forum. If you have not provided an email address, you will be notified by phone.

What time should I arrive and where is the public forum held?

Please be at Council by 4.15 pm on the day of the public forum, make your way up the stairs and into the Council Chambers, and make yourself known to the staff present.

Where should I wait to address Council before the public forum?

Please wait in the public gallery area of the Council Chambers.

How will I know when to address Council?

The Mayor will call on individuals to address the Council in the order set by the General Manager. When you are called, you should make your way to the lectern at the front of the Council Chambers.

What protocol should be observed?

When speaking, you must follow the Code of Meeting Practice. You should address the elected members as ‘Councillors’ or ‘Mayor’.

What should I do at the end of my address?

You may return to the public gallery area or leave the public forum.

When will Council consider the matter?

Council will consider the matters discussed at the public forum at the Council meeting the next day.