Councils consist of Council Members who set the policy directions and staff who are paid to carry out the decisions of the Council and elected members and to provide services. These services are decided by the elected Council members.
Each Council is different in size. While large metropolitan Councils employ hundreds of staff, smaller rural Councils may have very few staff. Generally, most Councils have 10 to 15 elected members.
Council members are elected by the public to represent them and set the strategic and policy direction for the Council. All the elected members combine to form the Council which meets formally and makes decisions by voting on motions. Elected members have no authority as individuals. All elected members have an equal voice in Council meetings and only decisions made by the Council can be acted upon.
Elected members should work to ensure that they make the best decisions for local communities. They discuss local issues with their community, then set policies and decide what action will be taken. Paid staff advise the Elected Members and carry out their decisions. Elected members are not paid a salary, however they do receive an allowance to help defray the cost of undertaking council duties.
Some Councils divide the Council area into several parts, known as wards. Each ward has one or more Councillors who pay particular attention to what happens in the area they represent. In Councils that do not have wards, Councillors are elected by all voters in the whole Council area. Unlike Federal and State Government elections, voting is not compulsory for Council elections.
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