In 2020, the Local Government Act 2020 came into force. The Victorian Government wanted the new Act to increase accountability and transparency as well as improving financial management and community engagement.
The Act was proclaimed in 4 stages, starting on 6 April 2020, with the final stage being proclaimed on 1 July 2021. The multi-step process included a focus on:
- electoral processes, transparency and community engagement
- integrity and governance
- strategic planning and reporting
- procurement, complaints handling and key regulations that articulated the powers of councils.
The implementation of the new Act required councils to develop a suite of new policies and update or amend existing policies. The Act required councils to develop or adopt each policy within a set timeframe.
Unfortunately, councils were faced with the difficulty of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic during the majority of the period when the new Act was being implemented. Councils had to support their local communities and had a large percentage of staff working from home. Despite this, councils were still required to adopt the new or amended policies prior to the legislated deadlines.