Foreword from Chief Municipal Inspector David Wolf

From my perspective, the Local Government Inspectorate achieved incredibly positive results for the local government sector in the 2018/19 period. The year was not without challenges, primarily in meeting sector and community expectations with our finite resources but this was offset by the recent government budget commitment of additional investment in this office to assist in our integrity role. We welcome this investment and are committed to continuing the excellent performance with greater capacity. Throughout the year we continued to provide an avenue for the sector and the community to raise concerns or seek advice relating to the governance operations of councils. Our complaints function received and assessed more than 420 formal complaints for the period, which is the highest number of complaints for a non-election year and continues the trend of an 11% increase per year calculated across the four year council term.

There are three pieces of work from the past year that I would like to highlight, the first being the review and report into the relationship between the elected council and their employee, the Chief Executive Officer. This work explored this very complex relationship and highlighted cases where either the employer, the employee or a combination had failed their local community and their organisation. The resulting report highlighted areas to assist councils and CEOs in this complex employer/employee relationship and I am pleased to see this report referenced across our state and in other jurisdictions. Secondly, a component of one of our more complex investigations related to a challenge of our investigative powers. This matter was heard in the Supreme Court of Victoria and the finding supported the legitimacy and fairness of our processes and the necessity of our powers, both being essential when delivering an integrity service for the sector and the community.

Finally, I would like to thank my team for their dedication in working with and at many smaller regional councils through the year as part of our governance examination work to assess and help improve their operations. The challenges of travel and resources aside, we have developed positive relationships with these councils and delivered excellent outcomes to assist their delivery of contemporary council governance.