Notice of Meeting


Communications Panel Meeting

A Communications Panel Meeting of Byron Shire Council will be held as follows:


Conference Room, Station Street, Mullumbimby


Monday, 15 February 2021








Mark Arnold

General Manager


                                                                                                                             Distributed 08/02/21




What is a “Conflict of Interests” - A conflict of interests can be of two types:

Pecuniary - an interest that a person has in a matter because of a reasonable likelihood or expectation of appreciable financial gain or loss to the person or another person with whom the person is associated.

Non-pecuniary – a private or personal interest that a Council official has that does not amount to a pecuniary interest as defined in the Code of Conduct for Councillors (eg. A friendship, membership of an association, society or trade union or involvement or interest in an activity and may include an interest of a financial nature).

Remoteness – a person does not have a pecuniary interest in a matter if the interest is so remote or insignificant that it could not reasonably be regarded as likely to influence any decision the person might make in relation to a matter or if the interest is of a kind specified in the Code of Conduct for Councillors.

Who has a Pecuniary Interest? - a person has a pecuniary interest in a matter if the pecuniary interest is the interest of the person, or another person with whom the person is associated (see below).

Relatives, Partners - a person is taken to have a pecuniary interest in a matter if:

·                The person’s spouse or de facto partner or a relative of the person has a pecuniary interest in the matter, or

·                The person, or a nominee, partners or employer of the person, is a member of a company or other body that has a pecuniary interest in the matter.

N.B. “Relative”, in relation to a person means any of the following:

(a)  the parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, lineal descends or adopted child of the person or of the person’s spouse;

(b)  the spouse or de facto partners of the person or of a person referred to in paragraph (a)

No Interest in the Matter - however, a person is not taken to have a pecuniary interest in a matter:

·                If the person is unaware of the relevant pecuniary interest of the spouse, de facto partner, relative or company or other body, or

·                Just because the person is a member of, or is employed by, the Council.

·                Just because the person is a member of, or a delegate of the Council to, a company or other body that has a pecuniary interest in the matter provided that the person has no beneficial interest in any shares of the company or body.

Disclosure and participation in meetings

·                A Councillor or a member of a Council Committee who has a pecuniary interest in any matter with which the Council is concerned and who is present at a meeting of the Council or Committee at which the matter is being considered must disclose the nature of the interest to the meeting as soon as practicable.

·                The Councillor or member must not be present at, or in sight of, the meeting of the Council or Committee:

(a)     at any time during which the matter is being considered or discussed by the Council or Committee, or

(b)     at any time during which the Council or Committee is voting on any question in relation to  the matter.

No Knowledge - a person does not breach this Clause if the person did not know and could not reasonably be expected to have known that the matter under consideration at the meeting was a matter in which he or she had a pecuniary interest.

Non-pecuniary Interests - Must be disclosed in meetings.

There are a broad range of options available for managing conflicts & the option chosen will depend on an assessment of the circumstances of the matter, the nature of the interest and the significance of the issue being dealt with.  Non-pecuniary conflicts of interests must be dealt with in at least one of the following ways:

·                It may be appropriate that no action be taken where the potential for conflict is minimal.  However, Councillors should consider providing an explanation of why they consider a conflict does not exist.

·                Limit involvement if practical (eg. Participate in discussion but not in decision making or vice-versa).  Care needs to be taken when exercising this option.

·                Remove the source of the conflict (eg. Relinquishing or divesting the personal interest that creates the conflict)

·                Have no involvement by absenting yourself from and not taking part in any debate or voting on the issue as of the provisions in the Code of Conduct (particularly if you have a significant non-pecuniary interest)


Clause 375A of the Local Government Act 1993 – Recording of voting on planning matters

(1)  In this section, planning decision means a decision made in the exercise of a function of a council under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979:

(a)  including a decision relating to a development application, an environmental planning instrument, a development control plan or a development contribution plan under that Act, but

(b)  not including the making of an order under that Act.

(2)  The general manager is required to keep a register containing, for each planning decision made at a meeting of the council or a council committee, the names of the councillors who supported the decision and the names of any councillors who opposed (or are taken to have opposed) the decision.

(3)  For the purpose of maintaining the register, a division is required to be called whenever a motion for a planning decision is put at a meeting of the council or a council committee.

(4)  Each decision recorded in the register is to be described in the register or identified in a manner that enables the description to be obtained from another publicly available document, and is to include the information required by the regulations.

(5)  This section extends to a meeting that is closed to the public.




1.    Apologies

2.    Declarations of Interest – Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary

3.    Adoption of Minutes from Previous Meetings

3.1       Adoption of Minutes from Previous Meeting............................................................. 5


4.    Staff Reports

General Manager

4.1       Mobile app for Council................................................................................................ 11

4.2       Promotion of Council activities.................................................................................. 19

4.3       Media and Communications Report......................................................................... 21     




Adoption of Minutes from Previous Meetings                                                    3.1

Adoption of Minutes from Previous Meetings


Report No. 3.1 Adoption of Minutes from Previous Meeting 

Directorate:                General Manager

Report Author:          Annie Lewis, Media and Communications Coordinator

File No:                       I2021/194




That the minutes of the Communications Panel Meeting held on 15 February 2021 be confirmed.




1        Minutes 29/10/2020 Communications Panel, I2020/1708 , page 7  




The attachment to this report provides the minutes of the Communications Panel Meeting of 15 February 2021 . 

Report to Council

The minutes were reported to Council on


In accordance with the Committee Recommendations, Council resolved the following:




Adoption of Minutes from Previous Meetings                                             3.1 - Attachment 1

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Staff Reports - General Manager                                                                             4.1

Staff Reports - General Manager


Report No. 4.1        Mobile app for Council

Directorate:                         General Manager

Report Author:          Annie Lewis, Media and Communications Coordinator

File No:                                 I2021/123


At the last meeting of the Communications Panel it was resolved that a report be prepared for the next meeting on the cost and potential use of an app for web purposes.

This report provides approximate costs of an app, as well as information about mobile-responsive websites and the Antenno app currently being used by Manjimup Council in Western Australia.





That the Communications Panel notes the report.





For several years there has been discussion by members of the Communications Panel as to the benefit or potential of a Byron Shire Council app for mobile phones and tablets.

This report looks at three options for Council:

·    Cost and use of a mobile app

·    Mobile responsive website

·    Antenno

·    Message Media integration

Mobile App

A mobile application (app) is a standalone product with content and features specifically designed to be accessed on a mobile device.

In order to develop a mobile app, it is important to understand what features we want to be accessible via mobile and what sort of notifications etc we’d like to be available. We also need to consider what personal information we intend to collect and how this information will be managed.

It would be a useful exercise to do a visioning session to develop a shared vision of what a Byron Shire app might look like and what things it might do. User research would be recommended as well as review of current website behaviour analytics.

In the current market, there are few off the shelf products to choose from (see Antenno). This would mean in the short to medium term, it is likely we would be paying premium price for a custom built app.

In the longer term, more bespoke products will be available so it may be more cost effective to wait. Timing is very important element to a sound/cost effective IT strategy.

To get the best out of an app, the services and content the app links to or uses must also be optimised for mobile devices.

For example the following third party tools are used for key services and linked to from our website. Some of these may be accessed via mobile but not all are mobile responsive or optimised.

·    DA Tracker

·    Scout -  Jobs vacancy and application portal

·    Eservices payment portal – For paying and checking rates

·    InfoCouncil – For Council meetings and agendas

·    Your Say Byron Shire

·    Report it

·    Recycle Coach

·    Emergency Dashboard

·    Climate Wise website

·    Many application forms – currently Word or PDF.

Even once a dedicated app is designed, developed and up and running, there is a level of friction for residents to navigate to the app store and download. This involves marketing and engagement activity to drive residents to the app.


It’s estimated that the cost to develop a basic custom built app for Byron Shire Council would be between $50,000 and $200,000 if the work was done in Australia. It would be cheaper if outsourced to another country such as India. There would also be an ongoing cost for maintenance of the app including updates if necessary.

Developing applications for Apple and Android devices is likely to be a costly exercise as upgrades and enhancements would also be expensive. 

There is a cross-platform app but this tends to be more expensive in the long run when considering upgrades.

There are also other costs incurred when taking payments, responses or other accepting user generated content. For example, Apple charge up to 30% transaction fee per interaction (if payment gateways etc added).

Mobile Responsive Website

Council’s website platform (Open Cities) is mobile responsive.  This means the website scales to suit the device or screen size it is being viewed on. For example an iphone, ipad, laptop.

Currently, visitors can pin a shortcut to council’s website to the homescreen of their smart phone, which provides an app-like shortcut directly to the council website.

As the site is mobile responsive, it provides an app-like experience while navigating the site and where appropriate, recognises swipe gestures and leverages GPS location etc.

Given the existing functionality in OpenCities, the cost of app development, maintenance and comms activity to councils has generally fallen short of any potential customer experience or digital service outcome.

For this reason, Open Cities has stated there is no dedicated app on their roadmap. This may change in the future, especially as they look at and think about the potential for a customer portal within OpenCities.

We regularly review mobile traffic to our website and optimise content for mobile viewing, adjusting top tasks, page content and features.

Our current roadmap for the website includes:

·    Moving towards using the Open Forms tool to create web accessible and mobile optimised forms. This includes payment gateways and integration with Authority/CRM systems.

·    Using Open Forms for submissions.

·    Updating our waste and recycling content to be more accessible via mobile and potentially moving away from using third party tool Recycle Coach, which users have told us isn’t a great experience. This has under 2,000 subscribers.

·    Making our documents web accessible and considering alternatives to PDFs.

·    Ongoing web accessibility training for staff to enhance web accessibility, which includes mobile responsiveness. .

Your Say Byron Shire

The third party tool we currently use as our community consultation site, Your Say Byron Shire, (Bang The Table’s Engagement HQ) is also mobile responsive and complies with relevant web accessibility standards. The content we provide on the site, for example, PDF documents are not web accessible. (see Message Media for third party integration tool).


Antenno is an app that can downloaded to a mobile device and provides information relating to Council services such as rubbish collection days, things that are on exhibition, roadside slashing etc.

Antenno is working with Manjimup Council in Western Australia currently but says it’s in discussions with City of Sydney and Lane Cove Councils. It also has several councils in New Zealand as clients.

It would cost Council approximately $10,000 to set up Antenno for its purposes with ongoing annual costs of more than $12,000.

When Antenno is downloaded from the app store it is an orange tile that is labelled Antenno. It cannot be labelled as Byron Shire Council although Council’s branding can be applied when it is open.

Bang The Table Message Media integration

Message Media is a third party tool that can be integrated with our current Your Say Byron Shire platform. This tool provides:

·    Bulk SMS to promote upcoming consultations or close the loop on past consultations.

·    Detailed analytic reports.

·    Shortened links, meaning that long links that would potentially push the message content beyond a single message are shortened automatically (premium package).

·      Trackable links. All links in SMS can be monitored for opening rates

·      Sender names and dedicated numbers. This means the recipient will receive SMS from the same number or even a name. For instance, instead of a phone number, it would show Byron Shire Council (premium package)

·      Mobile Landing Pages. A type of intermediate mobile landing page before hitting EHQ or the target destination of any links sent.

To get full benefit out of using this tool, all content and engagement tools would need to be optimised for mobile. So for example, where a consultation relies on the users reading large PDF documents and completing a long and complex survey, this may not be the best promotional tool. But where we utilise an idea generator or mapping tool, the user experience on a mobile would be optimised. 

Other information

Randwick City Council

Randwick City Council launched an app called My Randwick in 2012 but this was decommissioned on 1 July 2020 because the Council has “significantly invested in updating and improving its website interface and it now has the functionality of the old My Randwick app.

Tweed Shire Council

Tweed Shire Council has an app which it will be decommissioning shortly when its new mobile-responsive website is launched.  Tweed Council has two in-house web developers who can build an app but it is not deemed to be customer friendly or cost-effective. 

Lismore City Council

The Lismore app is not a Council-run application.

Cairns Regional Council

With a population of 170,000 Cairns Regional Council launched an app around two and a half years ago.  There have been approximately 30,000 downloads.  The top uses for the app are:

·    Water restrictions

·    Bin nights

·    Council jobs

·    Events

The Council does not use push notifications to alert people to things on exhibition because it has taken the approach that exhibitions of different projects and documents etc have a relatively limited appeal and are only of interest to a small fraction of users.  To send notifications could result in people opting out of the app. 

The time frame for the development of the app is believed to have been around 18 months.  The cost of the app was not divulged.

Gold Coast Council

Gold Coast Council, with a population of 620,000, has an app which has had very little update.  2% of contact with customers comes through the app and it expensive and time consuming for staff to operate and maintain.

This council is hoping to make its website more mobile responsive rather than depend on its app.

Newcastle City Council

Newcastle City Council updated its app in late 2019 with a budget line of $214,836.

Geelong City

Took two years to develop and four in-house web developers.


When deciding whether or not to invest in the development of a mobile app for Byron Shire Council following things need to be considered:

·    Before moving forward with any idea, the purpose of the app would need further scoping. For example, clarity over the purpose of the app and why users should use it instead of our mobile site.

·    We can already do quite a bit by making our website mobile focused. In a lot of ways this can feel a lot like a mobile application.  The Open Cities strategy is aligned with this approach (optimising content for mobile).

·    Council has good traction on social media, Enews and ABC radio.

·    How does this align with our current IT Strategy? There is a currently a project initiation document for a proof of concept involving a Customer Portal. It is envisaged that a mobile app will be able to use these standards in the future.

·    Given the potential cost of the development of the app is it a cost effective IT Strategy to develop a bespoke app? What does success look like? How many subscribers would Council need to get?

·    You can download Council’s website to favourites on your website and it looks similar to an app albeit on the home screen of your browser page (e.g.  Safari)

In conclusion, the development of a Byron Shire Council app is not advised, given the cost of development and ongoing maintenance in relation to continued work and refinement of our mobile responsive website.

Financial Implications


Statutory and Policy Compliance Implications

Many of the most useful features for a mobile app will require BSC customer login. We are in the early stages of discussions with the NSW Government regarding using them as an Identity Provider. This means reusing Service NSW Connect email based identity for BSC customers.

This is to ensure we comply with privacy legislation.



Staff Reports - General Manager                                                                             4.2

Report No. 4.2        Promotion of Council activities

Directorate:                         General Manager

Report Author:          Annie Lewis, Media and Communications Coordinator

File No:                                 I2021/124


This report provides an update on the implementation of recommendations from the July 2020 meeting.





That the Communications Panel defers a proposal for additional film/video content.






At the Communications Panel meeting on 30 July 2020, staff were asked to develop a proposal for the use of video/film to promote Council activities.

Council was fortunate to be one of two councils short-listed for the prestigious Bluett Award and an independent filmmaker was engaged to do a 12-15 minute video presentation that was shown to judges during their visit to the Shire.

A shorter, succinct version is also on Council’s Facebook page and website. 

With a tight budget and with ongoing uncertainty relating to COVID-19, it is recommended that this initial video be used for Council promotion etc and further thought be given to the potential for video/film in the 2021/22 financial year.

With respect to discussion at an earlier Communications Panel meeting in relation to adding a section to capture the success of media releases – this has been looked at but not progressed due to budget constraints and additional projects.

Financial Implications



Statutory and Policy Compliance Implications




Staff Reports - General Manager                                                                             4.3

Report No. 4.3        Media and Communications Report

Directorate:                         General Manager

Report Author:          Annie Lewis, Media and Communications Coordinator

File No:                                 I2021/125


This report provides an update of the activities of the Media and Communications team from August 2020 – January 2021.





The Communications Panel notes this report.





From August 2020 to 19 January 2021 the Media and Communications team put out 103 media releases and responded to 112 media enquiries.



Media releases

December 2020 – January 2021

·    Brad Farmer

·    Agriculture Officer

·    Litter blitz

·    Bush regeneration

·    Illegal camping

·    Broken Head parking

·    Belongil oil slick

·    COVID water testing

·    Update COVID water testing

·    Public gatherings

·    New Year

·    Christmas bins

·    Illegal camping

·    Coastline survey

·    Criterion track

·    Disaster assistance

·    Highway signs

·    Weather update

·    DA experience

·    Connections week

·    Weather update x 5

·    West Byron L&E Court

·    Emergency dashboard x 2

·    Byron Creek Bridge

·    Roadworks update

·    Bypass opening

·    Water restrictions

·    7 Mile roadworks

·    Bluett Award

·    Bay Lane

·    COVID safe Summer

·    Skatepark survey


Media Statements

December 2020 – January 22 2021

·    Brad Farmer

·    Cycling track x 6

·    Linda Vidler Park – x2

·    Oceania magazine

·    Australia Day x 3

·    Bin days

·    DA tracker

·    Mullum signage

·    Coastal Management Plan

·    Beach erosion x 8

·    Federal dirt pile

·    South Golden Beach dog walk

·    Busking

·    Sewerage testing

·    Apex Park toilet

·    Filming

·    Weather x 2

·    Illegal camping

·    Tourism officer

·    Mullum weir

·    Traffic

·    Sewerage testing

·    Communications polity

·    Wildlife hospital

·    Emergency dashboard


Digital Comms

Social Media

January 2021

The Facebook statistics:

·    Page views – 1,581

·    Post reach – 50,059

·    Videos – 10,920

·    New followers – 140

·    Engagements – 18,031

Financial Implications


Statutory and Policy Compliance Implications