Civic Citizenship

1.5 hour Governance Tour

Phone 4044 3386 or via email

Civic and citizenship education promotes students' participation in Australia's democracy by equipping them with the knowledge, skills, values, and dispositions of active and informed citizenship.

Students are invited to tour the Cairns Regional Council’s administration building where one of our Councillors will take them through the Council Chambers and Committee Room and provide the students with the opportunity to be a ‘Mayor for the day’ and/ or conduct a mock meeting.

The tours can be tailored to align with the Australian curriculum objectives and teachers may request other departments to present the students with an overview of their role with Council.

Click on a topic in the list below for more details about the topic.

About Council

Council is one of the three tiers of government in Australia. It has a specific set of functions and responsibilities, and plays an important role in improving the liveability of local communities. Councils are set up by state legislation. In Queensland, their powers come mainly from the Local Government Act.

What does Council do?

Cairns Regional Council provides more than 400 important services, facilities and functions including:

  • community infrastructure (parks, playgrounds, gardens, sporting fields, footpaths, cycleways etc)
  • arts and cultural services and facilities) libraries, civic events, community celebrations, performing and visual arts centres
  • building regulation and development controls
  • sewerage and wastewater treatment
  • water supply
  • waste collection, disposal and recycling
  • cemeteries
  • animal management
  • pest and weed control
  • town planning and land use management
  • local roads, kerbing and drainage
  • building approvals, and more!

Who runs Council?

Cairns Regional Council consists of the Mayor and nine Councillors. The people who live in each local government division choose who they want to be their representative on their council. The Mayoralty is decided on a majority popular vote across the entire local government area. Local government elections in Queensland are held every four years, and the next election is due in 2020.

Councillors are elected to represent the interests of everyone in the community. Their role is to make decisions relating to facilities and services in their local area. They make local laws to help provide a safe and orderly community. Councillors have regular meetings at which they make decisions and discuss local issues. Meetings are held at the council chambers.

The Mayor presides at council meetings and represents the council on formal occasions. As well as council meetings, Councillors attend committee meetings. Each committee deals with specific matters such as water and waste, planning and environment, sport and community services, governance, etc. Members of the public can attend all council and committee meetings.

The administration of Council is headed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Council's six departments are headed by General Managers who report directly to the CEO. Daily operational responsibilities rest with the Executive Team, headed by the CEO.  The Executive Team is implements adopted Council policy and the Operational Plan, and oversees Council's operations with the assistance of branch managers.

Council meetings

Council conducts Ordinary and Committee meetings each month. Special meetings are called when Council needs to consider extra-ordinary business items, including the handing down of the annual budget.

Meetings are attended by the committee members (or all Councillors in the case of Ordinary meetings), the Chief Executive Officer (or representative), the General Managers, and, where necessary, other Council officers. The Mayor is a delegate member of all committees and Chair of the Ordinary meeting.

Matters discussed at Committee level do not become resolutions of Council until the recommendations of the committee are adopted and carried at an Ordinary meeting.

The Mayor acts as the impartial chair of all Council meetings. During the meeting, Council considers reports from the committees, delivered by the respective committee chairs.

Items are discussed and debated, with Council deciding whether to adopt the committee’s recommendations or carry an alternative recommendation. It is usual practice for Councillors to raise any recommendations from committees that they wish to be discussed. All committee recommendations that have not otherwise been amended by Council are then carried in a block resolution.

Some items may be deferred, and others may have recommendations amended. Some report items are included “for information”. These items do not represent a decision, and do not require action by Council, they are simply an update on an issue Council is following or investigating. Once the report has been adopted, all recommendations become resolutions that will be implemented by staff.

City symbols

CrestOfficial crest of Cairns Regional Council

The crest is the official symbol of the Council.  It is used for ceremonial applications, such as the Council Chambers and official City documents such as international agreements and civic events.

The crest is sometimes referred to as a coat of arms, but this is a misnomer.

The crest’s colours are gold, blue and green.  The crest features:

  • picks and shovels, symbolising the historical significance of mining to the region (left)
  • stylised bales of commerce and industry (centre)
  • sugar cane (right)
  • foliage depicting the region’s diverse range of flora
  • ribbons of water for the city’s close proximity to the Great Barrier Reef
  • a sun burst for the tropics

Floral emblemThe golden penda is the floral emblem of Cairns

The Golden Penda - one of the tropical north's splendid flowering trees - is the city's official floral emblem.

The bright Penda (Xanthostemon chrysanthus) bursts into yellow bloom several times a year and is a prolific grower.

The tree enjoys full sun and thrives even in the driest conditions.

Council Tours and "Mayor for a day"

Phone 4044 3304 or contact via email

Council is pleased to provide the ability for Schools to come and visit the Council Chambers and talk to one of our Councillors about Local Government. There is also the option to run a mock Council Meeting and have a student selected to be the 'Mayor for the day'.

While the students are at the Council, it may be a great idea to request a representative from a particular area such as Water and Waste or Local Laws to come and speak a little on their roles within Council and how that effects our local community.

For further information and a booking form, please email

Council timeline

The first local government of Cairns, the Cairns Divisional Board, was established in 1879. Since then there have been amalgamations and deamalgamations. Below is a short history of the Cairns Regional Council.

1879: Cairns Divisional Board formed

1885: Cairns Divisional Board divided into Divisional Board and Cairns Municipal Council

Cairns Divisional Board

1902: Cairns Divisional Board becomes Cairns Shire Council

1940: Cairns Shire Council becomes Mulgrave Shire Council

1995:  Mulgrave Shire Council merges with Cairns City Council

Cairns Municipal Council

1923: Cairns Municipal Council becomes Cairns City Council

Cairns Regional Council

2008: formed from the amalgamation of Cairns City Council and Douglas Shire Council

2014: Douglas Shire reforms after deamalgamation with Cairns Regional Council

Teachers Resources:

  • Printable student worksheets
  • Council Tour bookings form
Last updated: 26 October 2017