Mitchell Shire Council to trial live-streaming

By Jackson Russell

Mitchell Shire Council will trial live-streaming of council meetings with a report to determine whether council could host a live-stream on its website or social media channels.

The trial will test the use a mobile phone and camera, already owned by council or council staff, to record a range of council-led meetings for end-user quality.

The trial comes after a notice of motion from north ward councillor Rhonda Sanderson in November asking officers to prepare a report about the feasibility of low-cost options.

Other councils across Victoria have already adopted live-streaming, with Macedon Ranges Shire Council and City of Whittlesea meetings both available live or on demand.

Four options are under consideration by council: audio only recording using current equipment; streaming on Facebook Live; streaming on Vimeo; or an outsourced option on council’s website.

The cost of live-streaming council meetings could be up to $24,000, according to council officer estimates.

Central ward councillor Annie Goble said she was a naysayer when live-streaming was first put to her.

“No one had come to me and asked for a live-stream. However, over my time on council and especially over winter, I started to think it would make it more convenient for the community to see what we’re doing and easier for someone who can’t get here,” she said.

“I think if we lose the gallery, it could be a disadvantage for councils because we get a lot from the gallery’s body language.”

North ward councillor Bill Chisholm said a stream would be more convenient for residents in the shire’s north.

“It’s an hour and a half drive across the top of the shire. We have a lot of people spread out across the shire and this would make it easier for them,” he said.

The trial was passed with a vote of eight to one with councillor Bob Humm voting against a live-streaming trial.

Cr Stevens said she agreed with the benefits but she hadn’t heard of a need for live-streaming from the community.

“There are advantages but on the other side, it’s great to have personal interactions with the community and to see interaction between community members is fantastic,” she said.

“Ratings would have to be monitored and I will be watching very closely. It has to be effective.”

Cr Humm said he was concerned council was ill-prepared for live-streaming.

“At the moment, I don’t believe Mitchell Shire Council is ready for this,” he said.