Opinion: Have you attended a local council meeting?

When was the last time you attended a local council meeting?

That was the question City of Mandurah Town Ward councillor Matt Rogers put to the community on social media last week. It is also a topic we have explored in this week's Mandurah Mail.

Discussing how well communities engage with their local governments is a timely debate to have, given our elected representatives in the West Australian Parliament are currently deliberating over reforms to the sector.

Since I moved to Mandurah in late 2017, I have covered the City of Mandurah's council meetings.

Each meeting I've enjoyed hearing our elected representatives debate and eventually decide on important matters in our community.

However, throughout that time I have rarely seen the (relatively small) public gallery, packed out.

Sure, when a controversial agenda item rolls around there might be a few more faces but most often than not it is just a handful of people.

Whether the issue is the accessibility of each meeting like Cr Rogers has suggested or not, it is easy to make the assumption that there is just a general lack of engagement.

I commend Cr Rogers for starting the debate as I believe live streaming council meetings are a step in the right direction.

And no, that is not so I can report in my pyjamas from the comfort of my bed as Mandurah mayor Rhys Williams jokingly suggested when we discussed the matter on Friday.

While the potential of boosted engagement seems like an obvious benefit to me, accountability and transparency are also on the list.

Quite often when I'm discussing issues with community members, they tell me they feel in the dark over decisions made in their local government.

But generally, it has been thoroughly discussed and is available in several publicly listed documents.

It is quite disheartening and it might be wishful thinking but maybe broadcasting meetings could stamp out that common issue.

What are your thoughts on live streaming council meetings? Send a letter to our team via editor.mandurahmail@fairfaxmedia.com.au.

Follow Caitlyn Rintoul on Twitter via @caitlynrintoul or get in touch with her through caitlyn.rintoul@fairfaxmedia.com.au.