Council workshop new policy to manage 'unreasonable' people
LISMORE City Council will workshop a new policy that aims to deal with unreasonable conduct from the community.
The new policy would aim to create clear guidelines for staff to manage situations they might find themselves in when "interactions can become hostile and unreasonable" while dealing with a member of the public, according to the council business papers.
Councillor Elly Bird said this type of policy would ensure staff were working in a safe environment.
"I think we have an opportunity here where we can put something in place that provides appropriate workplace health and safety for staff and councillors," Cr Bird said.
"If someone doesn't feel safe with their interactions with anybody in the public that person should be protected in their work.
"It's not acceptable that anyone should be harassed, unsafe or abused in their workplace whether their a councillor or staff."
But during public access, Lismore resident Janine Wilson said she believed the policy was "one-sided" and had the potential to hinder the community's right to transparency.
She argued that the policy didn't give any allowances for the possibility a staff member might be "careless".
"There is a need for a policy for unreasonable conduct but under this policy as it stands it would be too easy for staff to push community members aside if they don't want to bother with them," Ms Wilson said.
"While it's a definite need to have a policy to protect staff it should be balanced to protect the community."
Cr Gianpiero Battista said he also couldn't support the policy in its current form.
"Everyone who is impacted by council in one way or another will not be happy with this," he said.
"If they have a point, council should be able to respond to that point.
"(People) only seem to become active when they get stung by council in one way or another.
"All these things are to tame the community out there who are asking for responses when they are dealing with the council.
"We need to be transparent, we want a community that engages with council. We don't want to stop them from reaching out to us."
The council unanimously decided to adjourn the decision in order to hold a workshop.
"I think there's consensus in the room that we need a policy but not everybody seems comfortable on the wording," Cr Eddie Lloyd said.
"The way it's worded can be interpreted in a number of ways.
"We need to go through the document carefully to ensure it's not inflammatory."