Senior students from Carroll College and St Peter’s Anglican College at Broulee, and Batemans Bay High School were given time to address Council – including Mayor, Liz Innes and Deputy Mayor, Anthony Mayne.
One of the Shire’s Federal MP’s was also taking notes – Member for Gilmore, Anne Sudmalis.
Courtney Fryer from Carroll College used the opportunity to advocate for young people living with physical and mental disability.
Harrison O’Keefe from Batemans Bay High, made a great point around youth engagement –“show them what they are missing out on” and he has an idea to do just that.
While Pippi Sparrius from St Peter’s presented some surprising stats around teenage pregnancy in the Eurobodalla.
Keen to give the students a ‘real council meeting’ experience, Cr Innes was watching the clock, with Courtney, Harrison, and Pippi all given five minutes each.
A Council spokesperson says, there were 39 submissions from the community, and the Jury considered all of them carefully.
“Although the Jury project was primarily set up to look at how Council currently spends its money, it did consider new ideas, for instance, a community ‘think tank’ activity to run as part of Local Government Week and investigating a mobile library service,” the spokesperson explains.
Kate Raymond agrees that the Jury considered new ideas, but was somewhat ambivalent about Council’s response,
“For instance, our report recommended (p.9) having an agricultural officer in Council, to supercharge the outcomes from the Rural Lands Strategy,” Kate says.
“Council’s response was, ‘We will look into this’ and if there is grant funding available (p.32) they’ve told us they will investigate options.
“Does this mean Council is actively looking for grant funding for this position? What does investigating options mean? That’s unclear,” Kate says.
Council’s spokesperson says the Citizens Jury worked well and achieved the goal of providing feedback on how Council spends its money.
“The jury made 86 recommendations, 76 of which align with the Draft Delivery Program 2017-21 and the Operational Plan 2017-18. These two documents inform upcoming Council spending in the immediate future,” the spokesperson says.
“We [Council] also realised that there’s quite a lot of confusion in the community about the three tiers of government (local, state and federal) and their respective roles. So we’re working at getting some information about this out there.”
The Deputy Mayor believes it was a worthwhile process.
“In the modern world of social media, to see 28 people deeply engaged and enquiring of any number of issues over a sustained period of time is to be applauded,” Cr Mayne says.
“These were volunteers, paid a small allowance to give up seven nights and many hours of reading over several months to listen, wonder, seek, exchange, explore and debate a variety of matters before finally presenting their outcomes to the Councillors”.