Councils look to counter rising disruption of meetings

·1-min read

Victorian councillors are finding ways to combat disruptive residents, weeks after activists crashed a council meeting in Melbourne's southeast.

Hundreds of people attended the Monash City council meeting on April 26 to protest a planned drag storytime event.

Monash later cancelled the event citing threats of violence against staff, families and a performer.

About 100 Victorian council representatives met in Melbourne on Thursday to discuss how they could uphold local democracy in the face of disruptive behaviour.

Mayors impacted by the disruptions, police and a resilient communities expert spoke at the event, hosted by the Municipal Association of Victoria.

Association president David Clark said councils were proud to be closely aligned to communities, with residents able to attend meetings and put questions to their representatives.

But he said councils would work closely with police to ensure the safety of staff and other residents.

"The ongoing behaviour we have seen at council meetings is threatening and unpredictable and it has no place in our communities," Mr Clark said in a statement.

"It shouldn't be accepted at any level of government.

"Councils are right to take a zero tolerance approach, as the people most at risk are often other community members who are in the gallery with the disruptive people."

Victorian councils were being caught up in a "global trend of community disruption", Mr Clark said.