Earlier this year, Maurice Blackburn wrote to the Melbourne eastern suburbs council about the issue on behalf of councillor Victor Franco, who has been campaigning for the removal of the prayer.
This legal letter said the governance rule that allowed the prayer to be read at the opening of the meetings was in breach of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
The letter also said the same rule went beyond the powers of local councils and was not authorised by the Local Government Act.
Maurice Blackburn principal lawyer Jennifer Kanis said:
“In our view, the council prayer was unlawful, so it’s a positive step to see Boroondara council has last night voted to remove this unlawful practice from council meetings.
“We hope this decision by Boroondara will prompt other councils who still recite a prayer at the start of their meetings to review how they operate.”
Cr Franco said the decision meant that Boroondara council meetings would be more inclusive and representative.
“This decision means all councillors can now participate in the entirety of council meetings without having to participate in someone else's religious rituals.
“During this year’s public consultation on the prayer, council received hundreds of submissions, with 86% of these calling for the removal of the prayer.
“This result means that Boroondara council meetings will not only be more inclusive, but they will better represent how the community want to see their council at work.”
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