Section 355 Management Committees are provided under the Local Government Act 1993 for Councils to delegate some of their functions to a Committee of Council. Each Council may have several such Committees managing community facilities or providing advice to Council about such facilities.
Councils appoint members of the community to manage certain Council facilities (examples of such may include community recreation reserves/sports grounds). Section 355 Committees may also be appointed to provide advice to Councils on community needs in specific areas, such as future upgrade of such facilities.
As 'Section 355 Management Committees', these committees operate under the banner of the Council to provide assistance in carrying out some of Council's functions. This may also include aspects of financial management of such facilities they operate on behalf of Council.
Although Section 355 Committee members are community volunteers, they are covered by Council's Code of Conduct and other policies (including adhering to Council's risk management and good governance principles).
This requires Councils to ensure such community members undertake appropriate Code of Conduct training for consistent compliance as community volunteers with Council's conduct requirements and policies.
What Councils need to do
Councils which utilise Section 355 Committees should be ensuring an appropriate level of Code of Conduct awareness training for the community members who make up such Committees, in a similar manner to such training provided to Councillors and staff.
With the introduction of the new Model Code of Conduct, it is timely for Councils to take stock of the extent of Code of Conduct awareness training each of their Section 355 Committees has received (including any such training through effective induction of newly appointed Section 355 Committee members).
In some cases, such necessary Conduct awareness training for Section 355 Committee members may be as a more general training to members but nevertheless needs to ensure each Committee member understands their obligations under Council's Code of Conduct.
Areas that may need particular focus include General Conduct Obligations in personal interactions between Committee members, managing conflicts of interest, and personal benefits, as well as other specified areas of Council's Code of Conduct.
How Centium Can Help
Centium has been supporting a number of Councils in providing professional on-site training for Councillors and staff regarding their Code of Conduct obligations.
Through our extensive Code of Conduct training program for various Councils we note that some Councils have had difficulties in allocating their internal resources to conduct Code of Conduct training and inductions for Sections 355 Committee members (including newly appointed committee members).
Centium's Code of Conduct training provides dedicated resources and ongoing support to Councils (including Regional and Remote Councils) in addressing the Code of Conduct training needs for Section 355 Committee members for Councils across New South Wales.
We incorporate practical case studies in all our Code of Conduct training to ensure a clear understanding and commitment to Councils' conduct requirements and expectations that includes community members who make up Sections 355 Committees.
Centium's resourcing in this area includes our availability to conduct such Code of Conduct training for Section 355 Committee members outside office hours and at geographical locations where such Committees hold their regular Council facilities management meetings.
If you would like to discuss how Centium can assist you in ensuring ongoing effective Code of Conduct training for such community members of your Section 355 Committees please contact Roy Cottam, Director, Ethical Conduct & Investigations