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Hearing venue and hybrid requirements

Hearings for EES projects can be face to face, by video conference, or as a hybrid – both video conference and with limited in-person attendance. The hearing format will be determined by the inquiry/committee when they are appointed.

The project proponent handles making in-person and/or video conferencing arrangements and the associated costs.

Video conference hearings

A proponent of a larger matter organises the video conference component of the hearing. This may include outsourcing it to a professional audio-visual provider. Inquiries and committees are familiar with MS Teams and Zoom.

The Chair and the Planning Panels Victoria contact must have co-host status to ensure they can:

  • mute parties and participants
  • turn cameras on and off
  • assign attendee or presenter status to participants if it is a webinar
  • remove participants if necessary
  • lower raised hands.

Provide our team with a link to be published on Engage Victoria for people to use to observe hearings but not take part.

Hearing participants need the ability to share documents on screen and some may need technical support to do this.

Enable the raise hand function for participants and attendees to ask questions. Disable the chat function.

All parties can access the hearing through the same link, unless it is a very large hearing where it is preferable to have a presenters/participants room and a separate gallery.

Provide a telephone dial-in function for those without computer access.

In person hearings

Hearing venue

The hearing venue should be close to the geographic area of the proposed project and large enough to accommodate a high number of parties and submitters.

Sometimes hearings may need to be in more than one venue, or in one central venue such as in the Melbourne CBD.

The venue should have access to public transport. You will be notified in advance if car parking is required for the inquiry/committee.

Hearing room layout

  • In the hearing room, preference is a U shape layout.
  • Seat the inquiry/committee at the front of the room. The door must not be behind them.
  • The table should be large enough to seat the members with extra room for computers and documentation.
  • No one is to access the area behind the members.
  • Seat the PPV project officer close to the members to provide support.
  • The proponent, council, statutory authorities and some submitters will sit at other tables in the hearing room.
  • The hearing room will need public seating where parties and submitters can come and go.
  • Provide ergonomic chairs for members and PPV staff.

Main hearing

For the main hearing provide:

  • a dedicated table with at least 2 seats for parties and expert witnesses to present
  • small bookshelves behind the inquiry/committee
  • a public table for display of the EES and associated documents at the rear of the hearing room
  • a lockable breakout room for the inquiry/committee – away from other parties/proponent and not too far from the hearing room.

The inquiry/committee must be able to access its seated area from the side, so it does not have to walk through the room.

Requirements for display boards and screens will be discussed at the directions hearing.

Hearing room facilities and equipment

Audio

Provide speakers and microphones for the inquiry/committee, key parties, and the expert witness/submitter table, including:

  • 3 microphones with on/off switches for the inquiry/committee table, including one for the Chair with a ‘master mute’ function
  • for other party tables, at least one microphone with on/off switch per 2-3 seats at tables.

Hearings are generally not recorded, to encourage public participation. The terms of reference may specify recording of hearings. The inquiry/committee will provide guidance on audio recording if it is required.

If the hearing is being recorded:

  • Provide a space in the hearing room for a desk and area staffed by a full-time audio-visual technician to manage audio-visual systems and recording.
  • Start and stop recording at the direction of the Chair.
  • Recordings may need to be published to a public website such as YouTube. The proponent and/or audio-visual technician should provide the link to us no later than 12 noon the following business day.

Visual

The following are required in the hearing room:

  • adequate screens for viewing by the inquiry/committee, parties, and the public gallery
  • data point input by an audio-visual technician – either Clickshare or similar, or hardware input (cable/USB) to share information from parties’ computers to the screens in the room
  • a laptop and mouse at the expert witness/submitter table.

Other technical matters

Ensure access to:

  • high speed Wi-Fi – if possible, separate networks for the inquiry/committee and other parties
  • many points for power access – one power board per table is adequate, more are needed at the inquiry/committee’s table
  • multiple power boards are required in the breakout room
  • a webcam and associated software such as MS Teams or Zoom.

The hearing should be accessible for submitters and the public to observe online.

Practice Note 2 — Hearing requirements for EES projects

Page last updated: 08/11/22