Auckland Council’s demographic advisory panels kicked off a new three-year term this week, ensuring the views of Aucklanders spanning generations, cultures, ethnicities and abilities continue to be represented in council decisions.
During the recruitment period in December and January, a total of 523 Aucklanders applied for membership on the following panels:
- Disability Advisory Panel
- Ethnic Peoples Advisory Panel
- Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel
- Rainbow Communities Advisory Panel
- Seniors Advisory Panel
- Youth Advisory Panel
The inauguration came at the end of a lengthier than usual selection process which was heavily disrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown.
Selection panels were well underway when all face-to-face interviews ceased and the entire recruitment process had to move online, including this week’s inauguration.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff thanked those who had put their names forward to serve on the panels and congratulated the appointees.
“The advisory panels are an important way that the council gets feedback from the diversity of peoples who make up Auckland’s population,” he says.
“They help give voice to the perspectives and concerns of groups that may face challenges in having their voices heard. This includes the young and the old, those who are disabled, and our ethnic, Pacific and Rainbow communities.
“A clear example of how the advisory panels can be a channel into different communities was the recent Zoom conference I held with the Pacific Peoples Advisory Panel, even before they were inducted. They were able to update me on the impact that the current outbreak of COVID-19 was having on the Pasifika community,” the mayor said.
The advisory panels offer strategic advice to the council on regional policies, strategic issues and matters of interest to their respective communities. While the advisory panels do not have decision-making powers, their insights are vital to informing the work of council staff and recommendations presented to the Mayor and council committees.
Councillor Cathy Casey, Chief Liaison Councillor of the Advisory Panels said that while the recruitment process had been longer than planned, it was well worth the wait.
“It has been one of the most engaging and rewarding selection process I have ever been involved in as we adapted to new technology and new ways of communicating. And, I am incredibly proud of the amazing group of fellow Aucklanders we have selected. We have the best balance of former and new members with some real rising stars among them.
“I do this job as do all the liaison councilors, because I value the commitment, the experience and the enthusiasm that panel members selflessly give back to Auckland and I’m looking forward to the new term.”
As a result of the council’s emergency budget, the panels will meet less frequently this year but will start their regular meetings from September. More digital tools will be used to help ensure that communication can continue between meetings. A key area of focus over the coming year for the panels will be on Auckland’s recovery efforts and supporting the council’s focus on communities that need us most.
Read more about council advisory panels here.