Councillors’ use of social media was not the only topic at last week’s City of Gosnells council meeting.
The issue of children’s image distribution was also a strong topic of conversation.
The proposed policy on communications and use of social media by elected members was first recommended to the city by the State Government earlier this year but at the time council did not consider the policy to be useful.
As a result of social media problems arising, councillor Dave Griffiths said he believed it was time council developed a policy to alert councillors to stick to their code of conduct and keep the council in order.
“This is for a healthier and more honest council,” he said.
“I believe this is something all councillors will do as time goes on and maybe they already have.”
During the debate councillor Serena Williamson added an additional clause in relation to the distribution of images, particularly those involving children.
“When posting pictures of other people on social media pages, councillors should have the consent, preferably in writing, of those people,” she said
“In the case of minors, councillors should ensure they have signed written consent from the child’s parents or guardian prior to posting.”
The city already has a corporate procedure in place, which requires staff members to obtain consent from people captured in images before publishing them on any councillor’s advertorial publication.
Schools and sport clubs currently have certain regulations they follow to protect children.
Ms Williamson said written consent was necessary.
“This amendment is not intended to restrict your use of social media, it is intended to protect the children and members of the community,” she said.
Mayor Glenn Dewhurst spoke against the amendment and said that from his experience he did not consider the policy to be realistic.
In regards to a sporting event the Mayor attended two weeks ago he mentioned it was more realistic to ask and receive verbal consent.
The Mayor also said 99 out of 100 parents would consent to their children’s pictures being taken by the council.
“Realistically, you are not going to these places with 40 pieces of paper to ask for the parents’ written consent,” he said.
Councillor Olwen Searle said many children didn’t understand the repercussions of image distribution and would normally consent without asking their parents, which could have legal repercussions for council if images were distributed around the world.
“This is why we have to consistently monitor images because of the quick advancement that has been made on social media,” she said.
The policy is to ensure there was consent of children’s images whether there was written consent, sporting club consent or school consent as long as it is granted.
The majority of councillors voted in favour of the policy except Mr Dewhurst, who said he believed the policy was unachievable