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OIA helps remote Indigenous councils

25 February 2021

The Office of the Independent Assessor (OIA) is making it easier for councillors in remote Indigenous communities to address complaints about them.

Independent Assessor Kathleen Florian today announced a trial period in which councillors could respond to allegations about their conduct by phone, or continue to reply via email or post.

“All Queensland councillors are given an opportunity to respond in writing to complaints about lower-level conduct,” Ms Florian said.

“However, the OIA has seen that it is sometimes difficult for councillors in remote Indigenous communities to access computers and the internet.

“Providing the option to respond to allegations by phone gives those councillors a chance to have their say as complaints arise so that matters can be dealt with as quickly as possible.”

The trial will run from 1 March-1 September 2021 and will only apply to inappropriate conduct matters, while the more serious misconduct allegations will still require written responses.

It comes after a snapshot review of complaints in Indigenous councils following the 2020 elections which identified some unique challenges including high councillor turnover, conflicts of interest arising from relationships in small communities, and councillors’ additional roles in trusts and other entities that engage with councils.

“Last year there was a 100 per cent turnover in three of the 17 Indigenous councils in Queensland and only four mayors returned to office after the March elections,” Ms Florian said.

“We’ve identified some opportunities to assist councillors in these communities to be alert to and avoid misconduct risks, including training that is tailored to their unique issues and experiences.”

Overall, the OIA received 2273 complaints about the conduct of Queensland councillors in its first two years in operation.

The latest complaints data and more details of the report on Indigenous councils can be found in the OIA’s latest Insight report.

ENDS

Media contact: OIAmedia@oia.qld.gov.au or 0477 385 727

Last updated: Thursday, Feb 25, 2021