Purpose and Intent
Council must adopt and maintain a Public Transparency Policy under section 57 of the Local Government Act 2020 (the Act). This policy gives effect to the public transparency principles outlined in section 58 of the Act. Council is committed to the principles of public transparency, good governance, open and accountable conduct and making council information publicly available, except where that information is confidential under the provisions of the Act or contrary to the public’s interest. This policy aims to formalise Council’s commitment to transparent decision-making processes and freely available public access to Council information.
This policy applies to all Councillors, delegated committees under the Act and Council staff.
Principles for Transparency
Council commits to the following principles for Public Transparency as detailed within the Local Government Act 2020:
a) Council decision making processes must be transparent except when the Council is dealing with information that is confidential by virtue of this Act or any other Act;
b) Council information must be publicly available unless:
i. the information is confidential by virtue of this Act or any other Act; or
ii. public availability of the information would be contrary to the public interest;
c) Council information must be understandable and accessible to members of the municipal community;
d) Public awareness of the availability of Council information must be facilitated.
Decisions making at Council Meetings
Decisions made at Council meetings will be:
- undertaken in accordance with the Act and the Governance Rules;
- will be conducted in an open and transparent forum with information available via Council reports,
- Council meetings will be open to the community or can be viewed on the livestream (and available as a recording) unless closed for reasons permitted by s.66(2) of the Act.
Closed Council and Confidential Attachments
Council will aim to as reasonably practicable to limit the number of decisions made at closed meetings of Council. Council practice where reasonably practicable is to have an open Council report with confidential attachments provided to Councillors. If a decision or attachment is not made or made available to the public, this will only be undertaken when the matter involves confidential information as defined under s 3 of the Act.
Availability of Council Information
Council’s activities are diverse and extensive. Significant infrastructure is maintained, a range of services are provided, and various laws are enforced for the community. Council performs its functions through the enforcement and administration of a large number of Victorian Acts and Regulations and Council Local Laws.
Information about these activities and functions can be obtained in various ways such as Council’s website or administratively through Council or for a fee or charge through Council or under various Acts.
Council shares large amounts of information and documents on our website. This includes but is not limited to information and documents on the services we provide, policies which relate to the public, public notices and public registers.
Council in line with any adopted policy and the Community Engagement principles will provide the community with genuine opportunities to inform projects, strategies, services and decisions that affect them. This includes providing the community with any relevant Council information.
Freedom of Information
The Freedom of Information Act 1982 gives members of public the right to request documents held by Council. Information on Council’s freedom of information processes can be found on Council’s website.
Other Acts – Part II Statement
Under the part 2 of the Freedom of Information Act 1982, Council lists various Acts and processes members of the public can obtain information and or documents from and through Council. Council’s Part II Statement can be found on Council’s website.
Understandable and Accessible
Council is aware that information must be made available in a way that is understandable and accessible to all members of the public, in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.
Council does this in many ways but not limited to by providing information in various formats such as hardcopy and digital, Council’s website has a text to voice/translation function , using plain English in Council documents and publishing documents in languages other than English where practicable.
Having information and documents available is only successful at informing the public and being transparent, if members of the public are aware that they exist and know where to access them.
Council highlights the availability of information and documents in various ways both legislated and proactively. Examples of this are, but not limited to:
- Public Notices
- Direct Mailouts
- Casey Conversations (digital engagement platform)
- Casey Catch Up (electronic direct mail)
- Casey Community News and
- Social Media
Information Not Available
Some Council information may not be made publicly available. This will only occur if the information is confidential information or if its release would be contrary to the public interest or in compliance with the Privacy and Data Protection Act 2014.
“Confidential information” is defined in section 3 of the Local Government Act 2020. It includes the types of information listed in the following table.
Council business information
Information that would prejudice the Council's position in commercial negotiations if prematurely released.
Information that is likely to endanger the security of Council property or the safety of any person if released.
Land use planning information
Information that is likely to encourage speculation in land values if prematurely released.
Law enforcement information
Information which would be reasonably likely to prejudice the investigation into an alleged breach of the law or the fair trial or hearing of any person if released.
Legal privileged information
Information to which legal professional privilege or client legal privilege applies.
Information which would result in the unreasonable disclosure of information about any person or their personal affairs if released.
Private commercial information
Information provided by a business, commercial or financial undertaking that relates to trade secrets or that would unreasonably expose the business, commercial or financial undertaking to disadvantage if released.
Confidential meeting information
Records of a Council and delegated committee meetings that are closed to the public to consider confidential information
Internal arbitration information
Confidential information relating internal arbitration about an alleged breach of the councillor code of conduct.
Councillor Conduct Panel confidential information
Confidential information relating to a Councillor Conduct Panel matter
Confidential information under the 1989 Act
Information that was confidential information for the purposes of section 77 of the Local Government Act 1989
The Council may decide, in the interests of transparency, to release information to the public even though it is confidential under the Act. However, this will not happen if release is contrary to law or if releasing the information is likely to cause harm to any person or is not in the public interest to do so.
Where information is not confidential, and not already available, Council will apply the principles of a public interest test with consideration also of the resources required to respond to the request.
Champion public transparency through leadership, modelling practice and decision-making
Champion behaviours that foster transparency and drive the principles through policy, process and leadership
Training and awareness of public transparency principles and the processing of Freedom of Information requests
Responsible for public transparency as appropriate to their role and function and assisting the Governance Department with Freedom of Information requests as required