The Inspectorate conducts both council-specific governance examinations and broad reviews of systemic or thematic issues identified during council visits, investigations, feedback from the sector or the general community.
Examinations of council governance arrangements are a key proactive function of the Inspectorate in assessing the effectiveness of councils’ risk management and governance processes. The objective of this function is to review council process and procedures against the requisite legislation, identify deficiencies and provide suitable recommendations.
The governance arrangements and operations of Yarriambiack Shire Council was examined during the financial year resulting in a specific report to that council, setting out the scope and findings of the work.
Reports on examinations provide councils with a broad range of improvement opportunities and recommendations to improve compliance with the Act and meet community expectations. Inspectors of Municipal Administration also make recommendations to councils and elected councillors as part of their investigative work. A total of 56 recommendations were made in 2019–20. This included 45 recommendations made to Yarriambiack Shire Council in the November 2019 report and six made to Whittlesea City Council on policy and process improvements.
Under the Local Government Act 1989, Victorian councils were required to review and, if necessary, amend an election period policy no later than 12 months before the commencement of each general election period, that is by September 2019. This had to be conducted in accordance with section 93B of the Local Government Act 1989. New rules regarding election policies commenced on 1 May 2020 (Local Government Act 2020 ss 60(1)(e), 69).
In October 2019, the Inspectorate sent a brief survey to all councils on the adoption of their election period policy. By December, 66 councils had reviewed and amended their election period policy (also known as a caretaker period policy). While 32 councils adopted a policy outside of the required timeframe (in breach of statutory requirements), this does not invalidate the policy.
Common reasons given by councils for not adopting a policy in the required timeframe included:
- councils were not aware of the requirement
- legislation was not clear
- impending introduction of the Local Government Bill
- insufficient staff to carry out requirements
It was also found that 11 councils had not provided the policy to the community, through posting on their public website or other means, despite this also being a requirement under the Act.
Reviewed 17 December 2020