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Employee support for councillors

To ensure accountability and transparency, legislation which commenced on 12 October 2020 introduced requirements for councils that wish to employ ‘councillor advisors’ and ‘councillor administrative support staff’ to help councillors complete their duties. Only category 4-8 councils prescribed by Regulation will be able to appoint councillor advisors.

There are also obligations for councillor advisors and administrative support staff themselves.

Summary of council employee types

CEO Council employees Administration support Councillor advisor
  • Appointed by council
  • Reports to councillor and mayor (mayor cannot give directions inconsistent with council decisions)
  • Performance matters managed by council
  • Appointed by CEO
  • Reports to CEO or council delegate
  • Cannot be directed by councillors or advisors
  • Performance matters managed by CEO or delegate
  • Appointed by CEO
  • Reports to CEO or council delegate
  • Councillor can direct day-to-day administrative tasks in accordance with any guidelines made by CEO
  • Performance matters managed by CEO or delegate
  • Only at larger councils as prescribed by Regulation
  • Appointed by CEO based on councillor nomination
  • Reports to a councillor
  • Can be directed by councillor to undertake any duties except campaigning
  • Performance matters managed by CEO or delegate

Councillor advisors

Only 15 councils are permitted under local government regulations to employ councillor advisors. This includes the larger category 4 – 8 councils (as prescribed by the Local Government Remuneration Commission) and Brisbane City Council.

Requirements for councils include the following:

  • must vote to pass a resolution to create councillor advisor positions (except Brisbane City Council) and must state the number of advisors up to the maximum allowed
  • must not appoint a close associate of the councillor
  • appoint advisor, at the discretion of councillors and only until the councillor’s term ends, unless re-appointed by a new councillor
  • must have a written contract of employment with the council providing conditions of employment, functions, and key responsibilities, and when disciplinary action may be taken
  • must report the number of councillor advisors appointed by the council and the total costs of councillor advisors to the council for the year in the council’s annual report.

Requirements for advisors include the following:

Examples of assistance that councillor advisors may provide include administrative support, coordinating media activities, event/function management, policy development and office management.

Advisors can also download the code of conduct supporting information ( 139.2 KB) to help comply with their responsibilities under the code of conduct.

Administrative support staff

Some councillors have support staff to help with administration tasks such as managing their calendar and appointments, answering phone calls and emails, filing, or helping prepare for council or community meetings. The type of activities undertaken by administrative support staff is broad and is a matter for each council.

Councillors and councillor advisors can only direct administration support staff strictly in accordance with guidelines developed by their council as required by the legislation. Administrative support staff can only be directed to undertake administrative tasks and cannot be used to help with the councillor’s future re-election or other ‘campaigning’ tasks.

Supporting information to assist councils with the development of guidelines is available on the resources for CEOs and council officers page practice information page.

Difference between support staff and advisors

Councillor administrative support staff Councillor advisors (larger councils only as prescribed by Regulation)
  • Can be directed by mayor or councillor to complete administration tasks only (e.g., filing, phone, email, resident enquiries), in line with the CEO’s guidelines about administrative support staff.
  • Can be given directions by mayor or councillor for day-to-day tasks in accordance with council’s guidelines but report to the CEO or council manager.
  • Can give directions to other administrative support staff, for example if appointed by the CEO as an office manager.
  • Employed as a regular council employee, appointed by the CEO.
  • Can be directed by mayor or councillor to complete any tasks except political campaigning (e.g., administration support, liaising with community and stakeholders, research, media and social media activities, events, managing correspondence).
  • Reports to the mayor or councillor.
  • Cannot give directions except a direction of an administrative nature on behalf of the councillor to a local government employee who works in the councillor’s office (including a ward office or mayoral office). Any such direction must be in line with the CEO’s guideline for councillor administrative support staff.
  • Employed by council, nominated by mayor or councillor, and role ends if councillor’s role ends (end of term or suspension as a councillor).
  • Mayors and councillors are accountable under the Code of conduct for councillors in Queensland for ensuring advisors are aware of the requirements of the code of conduct for councillor advisors.

More information

For more information, contact your nearest regional office within the department.

Last updated: 25 Jan 2023