Reports, newsletters, presentations and social media posts are key aspects of the Inspectorate’s guidance and education program. Engagement occurs across various channels to ensure the Inspectorate’s reactive and proactive work is communicated effectively to state government, councils, council representative bodies, the community and other stakeholders.
Reports – public and internal
|Impressions of @CMI_Vic tweets||110,800|
|Website – unique views||50,902|
The Inspectorate published three newsletters to provide information and updates about significant reports, prosecutions, events and other relevant information. Newsletters were sent to more than 3210 subscribers and from the Winter 2018 edition, individual stories were also published on the Inspectorate website. This increased the reach of information beyond traditional mailing lists and assisted in meeting State Government accessibility requirements. Some of the most popular stories including advice and a case study on improving councillor/staff interactions and an explainer on the negative impacts of councillors releasing sensitive or confidential information.
Presentations to councils, sector representative bodies and partner agency events continued to build the Inspectorate’s engagement and visibility within the local government sector. Aside from visiting councils for investigations and examinations, the Inspectorate welcomes the opportunity to gain real-time feedback from the sector while delivering key findings from reports and expert perspectives on trending and systemic issues. Inspectorate representatives gave presentations at events including the LGPro CEOs forum, VLGA Mayors and FastTrack forums, governance groups and regional Corruption Prevention and Integrity Insights forums in Traralgon and Ballarat.
|Presentations and events||21||13|
The Inspectorate continues to use its Twitter account to provide updates on its work and highlight key issues for the sector in a more contemporary and immediate timeframe. The report on managing CEO employment was one of the most popular posts for the year, with 3800 views on LinkedIn and 4100 impressions and nearly 500 engagements on the @CMI_Vic Twitter channel. There were 2569 engagements with tweets and a 43% increase in followers over the previous year.
The Inspectorate website provides easy access to information about the Inspectorate’s work publications, news, media releases and the secure online complaint form. There was an increase of more than 10,000 unique views of webpages over the previous year and the CEO employment cycle report was the highest downloaded publication, with the 2017-published Central Goldfields report continuing to draw significant interest from visitors.
|Top downloads||1359 (Central Goldfields report)||1204 (CEO report)|
|Complaint form (clicks)||342||282|
A key factor in the integrity of local government is ensuring transparency on who has financially supported candidates and councillors. The Inspectorate plays a key role in the current campaign donation reporting system and our work in this area encompasses reactive and proactive work, and guidance and education function and also informs policy change. Campaign donation returns are a record of donations and gifts, including in-kind support, given to a candidate during the donation period. Candidates are required to declare each donation and/or gift received that exceeds the $500 threshold; or declare, on the campaign donation return form, that no donations were received. Persons nominating for council must currently lodge an accurate return to the CEO of council within 40 days after election day. If the return contains false or misleading material, the person lodging the return is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine of up to 60 penalty units. Following a lengthy program of reminders, warnings and, for 15 candidates, prosecution for failing to provide correct returns, the Inspectorate received specific complaints related to two candidates failing to disclose donations received towards campaign advertising costs. The Inspectorate completed an investigation into the two candidates and charged them in April 2019.
A candidate in the 2016 Moreland Council elections received a six month good behaviour bond for non-disclosure of campaign funding at Broadmeadows Magistrates Court on Wednesday 15 May. The Inspectorate alleged that the candidate failed to declare a $3000 gift from the an employees fund, which is associated with his employer. A Moonee Valley Council candidate was charged with two counts of failing to declare donations and after two adjourned hearings, will face court again in March 2020. Proposed reforms to the Local Government Act, supported by Inspectorate work and findings, will introduce tighter restrictions around donation returns and capping on the value of electoral campaign donations and gifts. Planned legislative reforms will see all returns submitted directly to the Chief Municipal Inspector, who will then publish campaign support for all communities’ information. These reforms are expected to vastly improve the immediacy and transparency of campaign funding disclosures, while also allowing the Inspectorate to more swiftly check the veracity of returns during the election period. Importantly, they will provide access to real-time information about outstanding returns, which will assist in actively promoting submission by the 40 day deadline and hopefully reduce resource-intensive compliance action.
Reviewed 01 February 2020