The mayoral chain worn by the lord mayor is a civic symbol of authority and is worn on official occasions including ceremonial meetings of council, citizenship ceremonies, and official receptions. The City of Sydney mayoral chain dates from 1902 and is made up of links with the names of the lord mayors who have served Sydney.
Create your own mayoral chain using cardboard. Make a list of the responsibilities of council and the services they provide in the City of Sydney, such as trees, skate parks, rubbish, parking etc.
Design links for the mayoral chain which represent the areas council looks after and draw a picture for each. Colour and cut each one out, then assemble them as a large necklace to create a mayoral chain.
Mock Council Meeting
A good way to introduce students to the role and responsibilities of local government is to conduct a mock council meeting following the formal traditions which are upheld in a chamber environment.
How to hold a mock Council Meeting
1. Read a current edition of the local newspaper. Identify and discuss projects in the local area which have received media coverage or which the local community feel strongly about. Discuss those issues in the context of a democratic system of government. Form your own council to demonstrate how the democratic process works. Organise an election among the class members. Each student could present a short description of what he/she would do for their local area if they were elected. Organise a voting procedure to elect a lord mayor and 6 councillors.
2. Decide on an issue which students feel strongly about and which can be discussed for about 10-15 minutes. These issues would require students to develop a proposal which they put to council, and in turn, council would need to discuss, debate and decide upon. Students would need to explore the arguments for and against the case and identify residents concerns about various issues, environmental impacts, costs etc.
3. Organise students who don’t have council positions to act as council staff (engineer, landscape designer, planner), assessing the application and residents who are against/for the project. A cross section of the community with different points of view should be represented (aged people, people with disabilities, children).
4. The Local Government Act has specific requirements about how meetings must be conducted and there is a set of regulations, which must be followed. Councils produce a code of practice and review this code within the first year of every new council. The Act allows some flexibility so the procedures listed below may not be exactly the same for all councils. Use these notes to develop the way you want to run your meeting. There is an established protocol for how meetings are held and managed.
Suggested Topics for Debate at the Mock Council Meeting could include:
- Council is considering introducing parking meters and resident parking zones which will require cars to display paid permits.
- A large retail developer wants to build a huge shopping centre 2 blocks away from the main shopping street.
- Local children have lobbied for a skate park in a large public park but residents from the aged care home across the road are unhappy because they think it will bring crime and vandalism to the area and a lot of noisy late night activity.
- Council is tightening controls on household pets – introducing registration for cats and dogs, restricting the numbers of cats and dogs people might be allowed to keep, designating reserves for ‘off leash’ activity for dogs and introducing night-time curfews.
- Council is allowing a developer permission to demolish an old building with a lovely old garden which locals consider to be a heritage item and which will be replaced by a four-storey block of flats.
Barwick, J. and Barwick, J. 1999
Heinemann Library, Australia
Curriculum Corporation, 2001
Australians All – Discovering Democracy
Australian Readers, Lower Primary
Australian System of Government. 2008.
Spinney Press, Thirroul.
Kelly, A. 1999
Australian Knowledge Series: Local Government
Franklin Watts, Hong Kong
McNab, N. 1999
Focus on Australia Series: Government
McNab, N. 1999
Macmillan Highlights Series: Government in Australia
Meehan, C and Sydenham, S. 2003
Civics Australia Series: Australian Governance
Meehan, C. and Sydenham, S. 2003
Civics Australia Series: Federal. State and Local Government
Sydneham, S. 1994
Local Government in Australia
Nadia Wheatley and Donna Rawlins 2008 (reprinted)
Walker Books Australia Pty. Ltd
Useful Websites for Democracy, Civics and Citizenship
There are more than 680 local governments in Australia and more than 150 in NSW.
For information on NSW local governments see:
» The Parliament@work site is particularly useful
» New South Wales Constitution
Free and fair elections for all levels of government is a central feature of Australian democracy. The elections are conducted by independent statutory authorities. Most of their websites have electoral education materials and other information.