The most significant reform of Victoria’s local government law in decades came into effect at a difficult time for Victoria’s 79 councils. Tasked with meeting the requirements of the new Local Government Act 2020, councils were also dealing with the considerable challenge of a global pandemic.
The implementation of the Act in mid-2020, placed significant governance requirements on councils across an 18-month period. It is our role to measure compliance across the local government sector, so in early 2022, we asked councils to supply us with new and updated policies required by the new legislation.
All 79 councils promptly complied with our request. This report is the result of our review of more than 1,000 individual policies and documents.
Overall, the review found that councils had very high rates of compliance with the strict deadlines required under the Act. The average compliance rate for the adoption of all policies and documents by the 79 councils was 93 per cent.
We were pleased to see that councils had acted quickly in adopting the new and updated policies required by the new Act – despite the challenging circumstances in the past two years.
We also selected a random sample of policies from a range of councils for a closer look. This deep dive revealed some minor issues but overall, the quality of policies was pleasing. We have made eight recommendations in this report to help councils improve their documentation and to alert them to a small number of common errors. We have also made a further recommendation to Local Government Victoria to provide clarification on an area of the Act.
Our project also aimed to provide councils with a resource of sample policies and documents which would allow them to compare to their own policies. The policies we chose met legislative requirements and came from a cross section of councils. These sample policies are now available on our website in the ‘Resources for councils’ section.
We hope this policy review will help lift capability and compliance across the sector.
I would like to thank those staff in all 79 councils for their prompt responses to our request and also commend them on the quality of the material provided to us.
Michael Stefanovic AM
Chief Municipal Inspector