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 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. Council meetings deal 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 meetings, but some sessions are "closed" to the public.

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 meetings twice 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 Chaired by the Mayor and are attended by all Councillors, the Chief Executive Officer (or representative), the General Managers, and, where necessary, other Council officers.

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

LogoCairns Regional Council

The Cairns Regional Council logo was adopted in 2008, following the amalgamation of Cairns City Council and Douglas Shire Council (which subsequently de-amalgamated in 2014).

The design features the leaf structure of the Queensland Fan Palm, Licuala ramsayii, which is endemic to lowland rainforests of north east Queensland. The range of this palm covers the entire footprint of the Cairns Regional Council.

The logo is a direct artistic translation combining several ideas generated by community members at a logo development workshop in 2008. Workshop participants voiced a very strong desire for the logo to express residents' connection to our natural environment, our warm and festive culture, and our community spirit.

  • The green upper leaf represents the mountain range and rainforest clad coastline
  • The lower blue leaf elements represent the ocean, the reef and the community’s connection with both elements of nature.
  • The dynamic splash at the heart of the leaf design represents the festive spirit of the Cairns regional community.

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: 15 June 2018