The Local Government Inspectorate is the dedicated integrity agency for Victorian councils. We are responsible for investigating offences against and breaches of the Local Government Act 2020 and examining any matter relating to a council or council operations, including electoral offences and activities.
As part of our role, we:
- assess and investigate complaints about some council operations, including councillors and council staff
- monitor governance and compliance with the Act
- provide guidance and education for councils
- encourage transparency and accountability across the sector.
The Chief Municipal Inspector heads the Inspectorate and reports to the Attorney-General (with respect to powers derived under the Local Government Act). This statutory position allows for the delegation of powers to Inspectors of Municipal Administration and has the remit to investigate offences and breaches under the Local Government Act or examine any matter relating to a council or council operations.
Our work can be categorised into three main areas.
Enquiries, complaints and investigations
The first part of our work responds to the community. We take enquiries from the community, councils and councillors. We provide advice and guidance on the Act and good governance principles. Sometimes we refer these enquiries to other agencies if they fall outside our jurisdiction.
We take complaints and conduct a thorough assessment to determine if they warrant further investigation. To start an investigation, we need to have sufficient information to suspect that a breach of the Act has occurred, which means conduct that would constitute a relevant offence. In serious cases, we will prosecute offences against Act.
By law, we are only able to investigate matters where we have jurisdiction, meaning we are not able to investigate all local government complaints.
The Inspectorate makes up one part of Victoria’s integrity framework that provides confidence in the state’s public sector. This framework is in place to mitigate the risk of poor behaviours, practices and even corruption in our councils, government departments and other agencies. Where required, the Inspectorate will refer complaints to other integrity agencies.
The second part of our work is to measure compliance with the Act. To facilitate this, we conduct governance examinations of
individual councils where a need has been identified, or of a particular topic across the entire sector. The results of these examinations are published on our website, along with best- practice examples, and other material that will help councils improve compliance. We conduct governance examinations and reviews of individual Victorian councils or look at topics that affect many or all councils. We often publish reports on our governance examinations, and provide examples of best practice governance directly to councils and on our website.
Guidance and education
The third part of our work is to provide guidance and education to the sector. This guidance is generated from ongoing or new themes and topics in complaints, investigations and governance examinations. While we do not have a specific legislative remit to provide guidance and education, it is a vital aspect of our work to make sure that councils and the community understand relevant laws and how the Inspectorate operates.
We provide presentations to councils and councillors, publish a newsletter and produce reports and other communications tools.
The integrity agencies that handle local government complaints
Local Government Inpsectorate
The Inspectorate investigates matters related to council operations including criminal offences involving councillors, senior council officers or any person subject to the conflict of interest provisions of the Local Government Act 2020.
The Ombudsman investigates the actions, decisions or conduct of public sector organisations and their staff. It also looks at whether a public sector organisation has acted in accordance with the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006.
Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission
IBAC is responsible for exposing and preventing corrupt conduct in the public sector. It deals with serious corruption and misconduct in: state government departments and agencies, Victoria Police, members of parliament, judges and magistrates, and council employees and councillors.
Reviewed 09 February 2023