Council meeting guidelines - public participation

1. Overview

At every Ordinary Council Meeting, members of the Community can: 

  • Present a Submission 
  • Submit a Petition 
  • Submit a Question 
  • Attend Public Council Meetings 

The following information is a guide to follow if you want to ask a question, submit a petition or make a submission to Council. 

These guidelines have been developed in relation to the Yarra Ranges Shire Council Meeting Procedures and Use of Common Seal Local Law 2015. 

2. Public Submissions 

You can make submissions to Council on matters that are not listed on the agenda and can also speak in regards to 

items that are included on the agenda. 

  • You can speak for up to 5 minutes (at the 4 minute mark a bell will sound to signify that 1 minute is remaining). 
  • You must extend due courtesy and respect to the Council and the processes under which it operates and must take direction from the Chair whenever called upon to do so. 
  • You may not ask questions of, or enter into a debate with, the Council during your presentation. 

Submissions to Council on matters not listed on the Ordinary Council Meeting agenda: 

  • Will generally be heard before the items listed on the agenda. 
  • Should not relate to matters on the agenda for the meeting, or matters that have been already considered by Council 
  • Should not relate to operational issues. 

You must provide the following information at least eleven (11) days before the meeting you wish to attend, to allow for consideration of your request and appropriate arrangements to be made: 

  1. Your name (or the person speaking if someone else) and the name of the group you are representing (if any) 
  2. What your submission is about 
  3. Whether you have a preferred Council meeting date at which your submission can be made 
  4. Your contact details (or if somebody else will speak, we will need their contact details as well) 

The Governance Team will be in touch to confirm the details of your request. 

Submissions in relation to a specific item listed on the agenda under ‘Business Paper’: 

  • Speakers will be invited to come forward by the Chair in the order items are listed on the agenda for the 
  • meeting. 
  • For planning applications and policy issues, the Chair will invite one person to speak on behalf of any objectors 
  • and one person to speak on behalf of the applicant. 
  • For other matters on the agenda, only one person will be invited to address Council, unless there are opposing 
  • views. 
  • At the discretion of the Chair, additional speakers may be invited for items of large interest. 
  • Submissions must be made in a way that is respectful of Councillors and staff. 
  • As no register is taken for those who wish to speak to an item listed on the agenda, you should make sure that you are present at the meeting when the item you wish to speak about is considered, as there will no opportunity for you to speak after the Chair has invited speakers and Councillors have begun to consider the  item. 

Supporting Materials

You are welcome to present visual or written supporting materials for your submission. 

You should provide sufficient copies of any supporting information you want to be distributed to all Councillors  and this will be circulated upon request. 

If you want to use any electronic supporting material, including images and PowerPoint presentations, you should make sure these are given to Corporate Support staff by midday on the date of the meeting so that we can check these work with our computer system. 

Further opportunity for the public to have their views heard: 

For some items, such as a proposed planning scheme amendment, officers may recommend to Council that a formal 

Exhibition Process (public consultation) commence. This is an opportunity for the public to submit their views for consideration. Following completion of this public consultation process, a subsequent ‘Recommendation’ may be made for the Council to request the Minister to appoint a Panel for the item be referred to, which will give a further opportunity for any submitters to present their views to the Panel. 

The formal Exhibitions (public consultation) and Panels (if one is appointed) are the most appropriate forum for the community to have their say. 

3. Petitions

You can submit a petition to Council as a way to show the collective support of the local community about a particular issue. 

  • Petitions, or joint letters as they are sometimes called, submitted to Council will be tabled and received at the next appropriate Council meeting. 
  • We will write to the Lead Petitioner to tell them the date of the Council meeting their petition will be tabled at. 
  • The meeting will acknowledge that the Petition has been received and refer it to the relevant Director to action. 
  • As there are no discussions regarding the receipt of a petition, there is no requirement for any supporters of the petition to attend the meeting. 
  • If you want to submit a petition to be tabled at a Council meeting you should apply the following: 
  1. 1. To be listed on an agenda the original document should be supplied to Council at least eleven (11) days before a Council meeting. A late petition will be accepted up until 5.00pm the day before. 
  2. Your petition needs to clearly state the issue to be raised on each page, along with original signatures and contact details of each petitioner. 
  3. Your petition must include the original signatures of at least seven different individuals who live, work, study or do business in the Yarra Ranges Shire. 
  4. Your petition should not relate to matters already considered by Council or matters relating to operational issues. 

Please refer to the Petition to Yarra Ranges Council Template Sample document for more information. 

4. Submit a Public Question to Council 

Questions can be submitted to the Council, which are read out and responded to at the next appropriate Ordinary Council Meeting. 

  • You can submit your question by completing the form on the Council’s website; or by email 
  • Your question must be received no later than 5.00pm on the day before the Council meeting date. 
  • Questions relating to items on the agenda, or which are the same as previous questions, will not be considered. 
  • A question will not be accepted if, in the opinion of the Chief Executive Officer, it appears to be derogatory, defamatory or embarrassing to any Councillor, member of staff, ratepayer or member of the public. 
  • A limit of one question per person per meeting will apply. Multiple parts to a question will be treated as multiple questions. 
  • A maximum of 15 minutes will be allocated to ‘Question Time’ at each meeting. 
  • As far as practicable, questions will be considered in the order they were received. 
  • Your question will be read out on the night and if possible will be answered by the appropriate officer. If a question cannot be answered on the night or if time constraints restrict the ability to read out a question, it will be answered in writing in accordance with Council’s normal correspondence procedures. 
  • You are welcome to attend the meeting and hear the answer to your question, but it is not a requirement. 
  • If your question is addressed on the night, we will provide a copy of the answer to you in writing in the days following the meeting. 

5. Public Attendance at Council Meetings

You are welcome to attend the Ordinary and Special Council Meetings but we ask that you observe the following 


  • To show courtesy and respect all members of the public, councillors and staff at all times. 
  • To remain quiet while others are presenting their point of view. 
  • To remain in the public seating area unless invited to come forward. 
  • No offensive signage, stakes or poles (for safety reasons) are to be brought into the Council Chamber. 
  • No photograph, audio recording or film is to be taken without Council’s and the individual’s consent. 
  • Any statement which appears to the Chair to be derogatory, defamatory or embarrassing to any Councillor, member of staff, ratepayer or member of the public will not be accepted. 
  • Any person who is disruptive or unruly during any meeting will be called to order. 
  • Any person who has been called to order and fails to comply with the Chair's reasonable direction will be guilty  of an offence.
  • In accordance with Section 91A of the Local Government Act 1989, the Chair has discretion to cause the  removal of any person who disrupts any meeting or fails to comply with a direction. 

 Refer Meeting Procedures and Use of Common Seal Local Law 2015, Part 10 – Offences and Penalties