ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing - Terms of Reference and Guidelines (February 2018)

Function

Role

The ACT Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing (the MACA) provides strategic advice to the ACT Government on issues affecting older people in the ACT. The MACA assists the Government to develop and implement positive ageing policies, in order to advance the status and interest of older people. The MACA also provides a link between the Minister for Veterans and Seniors (the Minister) and older members of the ACT Community.

The work of the MACA reflects the objectives of the ACT Active Ageing Action Plan 2015-2018. The MACA monitors the progress of achievements towards these objectives through consultation with older people in the community and relevant organisations.

Terms of Reference

  • Undertake research, monitor and provide advice on positive ageing matters referred by the Minister for Veterans and Seniors or raised as a result of community consultation;
  • Evaluate and provide advice on ACT Government positive ageing policies and programs affecting the community and recommend changes where necessary;
  • Consult with relevant community organisations and individuals to identify concerns and propose action. Act as a link between these organisations and the ACT Government on these issues;
  • Disseminate and communicate (in person, electronically or otherwise) information to community interest groups on the proceedings of the MACA;
  • Provide regular advice to the Minister about the progress of achievements towards the objectives of the ACT Active Ageing Action Plan 2015-2018;
  • Establish and maintain cooperative networks with other ministerial advisory bodies and relevant ACT Government agencies; and
  • Provide a term report on the progress of work undertaken by the MACA to the Minister.

The MACA will develop an annual plan of its proposed activities and submit it to the Minister for review and endorsement.

Membership

Structure

The MACA will consist of a minimum of seven to a maximum of 12 members, including a Chair and a Deputy Chair. Individual community members, including the positions of Chair and Deputy Chair, will be appointed by the Minister.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members of the Council are entitled to nominate a proxy to support them in their role on the Council. When the member attends, the proxy is an observer and may not vote. When the member is absent, the proxy may vote as a represented organisation member in place of the member.

Composition and Representation

MACA members will be:

  • Representatives from various organisations and peak bodies representing older people in the ACT (applicants from all positions and levels within organisations are encouraged); or
  • Older people who are able to satisfy the selection criteria but who may have less formal affiliations with organisations;
  • A member or representative from COTA ACT; and
  • A member or representative from Dementia Australia ACT.

Another represented organisation may also be appointed at the Minister’s discretion. This organisation is able to send a proxy to meetings with agreement of the Chair.

The Minister will appoint a Ministerial Liaison Officer, who will attend meetings as a non-member.

Advisers

Non-members who are subject matter experts may be invited by the MACA to provide advice to inform the work of the MACA.

Working Groups

Working groups may be formed by the MACA to progress the work of council between council meetings in key priority areas.

Non-members who are subject matter experts may be invited to participate in MACA working groups in an advisory role. However, all working groups will be led by a current member of MACA.

Selection Criteria

The Minister may consider the composition of the MACA as a whole when selecting members to ensure that the MACA represents older people in the ACT and includes an appropriate gender balance, people with disabilities, people of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people of different ages and from different locations.

The selection criteria for the MACA are:

  • Demonstrated commitment to the advancement of older people;
  • Demonstrated knowledge of the interests and concerns of older people in the ACT community;
  • Ability to consult and represent a wide range of views of older members of the ACT community; and
  • Commitment to participate fully in MACA activities (e.g. consultations), in accordance with the Code of Conduct.

Terms of Appointment

  • Appointments will be for two year terms, unless otherwise determined by the Minister;
  • No member may serve more than two terms;
  • The MACA may form working parties and / or engage individuals with expertise for particular tasks;
  • The MACA should aim, where possible, for a 50 per cent rotation of members each term; and
  • The Minister has the power to appoint persons to casual vacancies.

Leave of absence and apologies

  • Where a member is unable to attend a meeting, that member should submit an apology to the Secretariat stating the reason for the absence. Apologies must be accepted by MACA resolution to be effective;
  • Proxies and/or observers will not be accepted to replace the absent member (with the exception of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and represented organisations as referred to in “Composition and Representation” above);
  • Members’ terms may be cancelled if they fail to attend three consecutive meetings without leave from the Chair; and
  • Members may apply to the MACA for Leave of Absence for up to three months. The Council must agree to a request for Leave of Absence for it to be effective. Applications for Leave of Absence for a longer period must be submitted to the Minister.

Vacation of Office

Members may resign from the MACA at any time provided, they notify the Minister in writing, stating their intention to resign from the MACA, with a copy to the Chair, at least four weeks prior to the date of resignation. The appointment of replacement members is at the discretion of the Minister.

Role of the Chair

The Chair is ultimately responsible to the Minister for Veterans and Seniors for the operations of the MACA. The role of the Chair is to:

  • Act as a public spokesperson for the MACA;
  • Facilitate orderly and constructive discussions between members on matters within the MACA’s Terms of Reference;
  • Assist members to work together as a group by facilitating discussion; ensuring all members have equal opportunity to contribute ideas, opinions and concerns; and drawing participation from all members;
  • Maintain a positive and constructive atmosphere at MACA meetings by encouraging courtesy, respect and openness;
  • Ensure that any action required is appropriately assigned; and
  • Liaise with the Secretariat to develop meeting agendas and ensure the progression of actions arising from meetings.

Operation

General Meetings

  • The MACA is to meet a minimum of four times and a maximum of 12 times a year. Working group meetings may be formed as deemed necessary.
  • A draft agenda will be developed prior to each meeting by the Secretariat in consultation with the Chair. In developing the agenda, consideration will be given to the references provided from the Minister to the MACA. The agenda should have clear objectives that will advance the MACA’s work program.
  • The agenda and related papers are to be circulated to members no less than one week prior to the meeting.
  • Meetings are to be facilitated by the Chair, or in their absence, the Deputy Chair; or in their absence, a member. Whenever possible, decisions of the MACA are to be made by consensus, or if consensus cannot be reached, by a majority vote of those members present. Diversity of opinion on issues will be reflected in the advice provided to the Minister.
  • A member who abstains from voting, or dissents from the majority ruling, can request to have their action recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
  • At each meeting, MACA members are to provide brief reports on consultations they have attended or held and any significant issues arising.
  • Following each meeting, a report is to be provided to the Minister highlighting significant achievements arising from meetings.
  • At least one Community Consultation Forum is to be held annually in partnership with the Minister.

Quorum

In order for decisions to be made at meetings there is to be a quorum of no less than half the total current number of members plus one.

Confidentiality

Unless otherwise indicated, all MACA papers and minutes are confidential and the Council will make determinations on what papers are marked for release at the end of each meeting or in subsequent meetings. Members may, on occasion, be provided with other confidential material, which they should not disclose to anyone outside the Council and should treat with the utmost care and discretion.

Secretariat Support

Secretariat support to the Council will be provided by the Community Services Directorate (CSD). The Secretariat is responsible for:

  • Developing agendas (for MACA meetings and other business involving the Community Services Directorate and members of the MACA) in consultation with the Chair;
  • Assisting MACA members to prepare agenda papers and submit business to the MACA;
  • Distributing the agenda and meeting papers in appropriate formats;
  • Taking minutes, clearing them with MACA members, revising as needed, producing them in the required format and distributing them, normally within two weeks of a MACA meeting;
  • Monitoring action items arising from MACA business and assisting in their implementation, including liaising between the MACA and Government agencies;
  • Supporting members to complete paperwork for reimbursement, ensuring information is verified (for example, meetings attended) and submitted to the Secretariat; and
  • Arranging appropriate venues for meetings held outside CSD premises and arranging refreshments for meetings within budget.

Business between Meetings

The Chair may write and sign letters and conduct business between meetings on behalf of the MACA, and the Secretariat should be provided with copies of all correspondence. The Chair may delegate these operations to the Deputy Chair (or other members) as needed. All submissions and significant correspondence (for example, a response to a statutory body) should be cleared through the Chair and the Minister.

Members are expected to advise the Secretariat when they have completed agreed actions arising from previous meetings.

The MACA may deal with some matters out-of-session, usually where feedback is sought from MACA members, rather than a policy decision. Where a matter requiring resolution is to be dealt with in an out-of-session paper, agreement by two-thirds of Council members is required for assent.

Open Access Information Scheme (OAIS)

From 1 January 2018, the Freedom of Information Act 2016 (the FOI Act) came into effect. Under the FOI Act CSD is required to publish reports and recommendations prepared by MACA.

To ensure full compliance by CSD under the FOI Act, MACA reports and recommendations must be provided to CSD (via the secretariat) no later than 30 days after finalisation of the document.

The secretariat will assess the document and apply a public interest test, which will examine the information in a document and identify factors for either public disclosure or non-disclosure.

The assessment and document will be approved by the relevant CSD OAIS Information Officer, being a staff member at Director level or above.

Where information in a document is approved for public release it will be uploaded to the ACT Government OAIS portal.

Where a Chair or member has specific public interest concerns about a report or recommendation, these need to be provided in writing by the Chair to the secretariat at the same time as the relevant report or recommendation is provided.

Official Business and the Representation of Council Views

The Chair and the Deputy Chair will be deemed to be on MACA business when representing the MACA at meetings and forums and when attending to the operation of MACA and meeting with ACT Government representatives and such other business as may reasonably be required in discharging the MACA’s Terms of Reference. The Chair and the Deputy Chair must represent existing MACA policy in the public domain, including the media, as needed to discharge the Council’s Terms of Reference.

A member will be deemed to be on official duties:

  • While attending meetings of the MACA; and
  • While undertaking a task at the request of MACA or as a representative of the Minister (these tasks could include representing the MACA on other committees, working parties and seminars).

Reasonable costs incurred by members during such activities will normally be met by the per diem Community Engagement payment, but can be considered on a case by case basis.

Member(s) on official business outside of meetings are expected to reflect the existing policies of the MACA and shall report on the matter to the Council at the meeting following the event or by a report sent to the MACA.

Formal speeches and papers to be delivered by a member on behalf of the MACA or the Minister; submissions to inquiries and committees; and significant correspondence will be cleared through the Secretariat and the Minister prior to their presentation and a copy made available to the Secretariat.

All contact with the media on behalf of the Council requires consultation with the Chair. Any information to be released to the media on behalf of the Council will need to be cleared through the Chair and the Minister.

The MACA currently operates a web site and material for the web site is to be coordinated by the MACA Secretariat and cleared with the Chair in line with the policy agreed by the MACA.

Reimbursement of Expenses

The Chair and acting Chair will be paid per diem at a rate determined by the ACT Remuneration Tribunal. The Deputy Chair and members are entitled to access the Community Engagement Payment of the Community Services Directorate. Claims will be limited to a maximum of 12 per annum. Payments will be coordinated by the Secretariat.

Reimbursement is in recognition of the work undertaken by members of the MACA to fulfil its role. Members are expected to actively contribute to the work of the MACA, including: supporting the Chair and Deputy Chair; taking part in community consultations and other business; maintaining links with the community; and acting in accordance with the provisions of these Guidelines. The Community Engagement Payment Policy and claim forms are available from the Council Secretariat.

Conflict of Interest

Conflict of interest is defined as any instance where a MACA member has a direct financial or other interest in matters under consideration, or proposed for consideration, by the MACA.

A member must disclose to the Chair any situation that may give rise to a conflict of interest, a potential conflict of interest, or a potential perceived conflict of interest. The Chair will make the determination whether there are adequate grounds for excluding a member from any related discussion or decision making regarding a conflict of interest issue.

In a situation where a Public Servant is a MACA member, this should not in any way constrict the independence of the advice provided by the MACA. Issues such as whether the duties of the Public Servant extend to reporting back to the Minister (or communicating with the MACA on behalf of the Minister) should be made explicit from the outset by the Chair and preferably in writing.

Conflicts of interest that are sufficient to justify the termination of a member’s appointment must be approved by the Minister. In such a situation, the Chair has the power to suspend the person’s membership until the Minister’s agreement is obtained.

Documentation outlining appropriate conduct in relation to ethical standards, conflict of interest and other issues is outlined in the Governance Principles 2017, available from the Office for Veterans and Seniors or the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate.

Termination

The Minister retains the discretion to terminate a member’s appointment to the MACA upon notice of not less than four weeks, for serious breaches of attendance or conflict of interest.

Contact Details

Secretariat
Ministerial Advisory Council on Ageing
Community Services Directorate

Footnote
1 '2.6.8. Government policy on boards and committees seeks to achieve and maintain 50% representation of women on all government boards and committees, and also increase the representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, people with a disability, persons from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and community organisations', Governance Principles 2017

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