A Local Government Inspectorate review into the implementation of the new Local Government Act 2020 found that councils were largely in compliance with the legislation which required a range of documents to be created or updated.
During 2022, the Local Government Inspectorate reviewed more than 1,000 individual policies and documents in a project to measure how well councils have complied with requirements placed on them by the new Act.
The 2020 Act was the most significant reform of Victoria’s local government law in decades and required councils to create or update policies to comply with the new legislation over an 18-month period.
The enactment of the new Act in 2020 unfortunately coincided with the global pandemic and councils were dealing with online meetings and staff working from home during the period the new policies and documents were mandated to be completed
The average compliance rate for the adoption of each of the policies and documents by the 79 councils was 93%.
Chief Municipal Inspector Michael Stefanovic AM said: “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 last two years.”
The level of compliance across the sector was extremely high, with nine of the 11 topics recording compliance rates of over 90%. Another topic had a compliance rate of 87%.
Because the requirements were mandatory, it was anticipated that compliance rates would be high. While the target for councils to comply was 100%, we considered that the results achieved by councils was very positive given the extraordinary circumstances that prevailed at the time they were being implemented.
The Inspectorate 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,” Mr Stefanovic said.
“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 provided councils with a new resource of sample policies and documents The policies we chose met legislative requirements and came from a cross-section of councils. The new resource will allow them to compare to their own policies against the sample ones.
“We hope this policy review will help lift capability and compliance across the sector,” Mr Stefanovic said.
Reviewed 15 January 2023