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New policy to allow for committee exemptions

A new Campaspe Shire policy will mean volunteers who work for the shire can apply for exemptions on requirements to supply certain personal information.

ELAINE COONEY February 28, 2013 4:11am

Campaspe Shire has adopted a new policy which makes it easier for volunteers of Special Committees of Council, Section 86 Committees, to avoid revealing personal information about members.

Section 86 committees are made up of volunteers who work on behalf of the Campaspe Shire.

They can be hall committees and recreation reserve committees.

Until last week’s policy, these groups previously had no alternative but to declare financial information about each member such as financial interests in property, business and shares as well as other personal details.

However, the new policy means there is now scope for individuals to be granted exemptions from declaring such information by filling out a Register of Interests Primary and Ordinary Returns form.

The new policy states an exemption can be granted if Campaspe Shire’s contribution to the group is less than $10,000, and, along with other factors, if the group’s operational budget is lower than $30,000 and the group’s bank balance less than $20,000.

Campaspe Shire mayor Ian Maddison said the newly-adopted ‘Policy 139 - Special Committees of Council’ provided guidance about the possible granting of exemptions.

‘‘Community volunteers on Section 86 Committees make an extremely valuable contribution to the community and council,’’ he said.

He believed the exemption would make it easier for community members to say ‘yes’ when considering becoming a member of a Section 86 Committee.

Last year, several Section 86 groups came to the Campaspe News stating they did not feel it was fair that the volunteers within the groups were obliged to fill out a Register of Interests Primary and Ordinary Returns form.

The general feeling among volunteers was that it was an invasion of privacy.

The Nanneella Hall Committee was one of the several groups to refuse to complete the required form.

Nanneella Hall Committee chair Alistar Gibson said he was pleased with the new policy.

He said the committee was dealing with small amounts of money and believed it would not have any problems being granted exemptions.

Treasurer Joan Jenkins welcomed Campaspe Shire’s new approach.

‘‘I’m glad the new councillors are taking some action and listening to the people,’’ she said.

The group plans to wait for a response from the council in relation to applications for exemptions.

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