Melbourne City Council has provided sample emails and the following checklist which can be used as part of the personal interests returns process. The checklist and emails are available to download, along with this report on our website.
Sample checklist from Melbourne City Council
The following checklist has been developed to provide guidance on managing the Personal Interests Return process38 for nominated officers, as this is the area that is the most resource intensive to manage, due to position or organisational changes that may occur from time to time.
There is a linkage between the Local Government Act 2020 and the Local Government (Governance and Integrity) Regulations 2020 and an organisations staff Code of Conduct and/or terms and conditions of employment. That is because there are penalties for failing to complete and submit a return within the prescribed period and an officer’s terms and conditions of employment/staff Code of Conduct, may stipulate that failure to comply with a statutory requirement may also lead to disciplinary action.
For further information, please refer to the guidance material prepared by Local Government Victoria. Prior to commencing the initial or biannual Personal Interests Return process, you should refer to the guidance material in case the guidance has changed.
Sections 132-136 of the Local Government Act 2020 set out a process for managing personal interests returns. The Act requires a specified person, being a Councillor, a member of a delegated Committee who is not a Councillor, a Chief Executive Officer or a nominated officer, to lodge an initial Personal Interests Return and thereafter a biannual Personal Interests Return (March and September).
For nominated officers, the CEO (delegate is Director Governance) will determine which staff are ‘nominated’ and therefore required to submit an initial Personal Interests Return. Council staff have 30 days to submit from the day they are advised that their position has been designated as a nominated officer and therefore requires them to submit a Personal Interests Return.
|1||2–4 weeks prior to requesting completion of a personal interests return, confirm the list of Nominated Officers. Nomination is to a position and the person occupying the position may have changed since the last communication.||
Section 132 and 133 of the Local Government Act 2020 sets out the definition of a nominated officer and the requirement to lodge an initial and subsequently biannual personal interests return. The Director Governance, as delegate of the CEO, has developed specific criteria, expanding on the legislation, to guide the process of determining which position should be ‘nominated’. (EDMS39 reference 123456789)
2–4 weeks prior to requesting completing a personal interests return, ensure the form is consistent with the details provided for in the Regulations.
|Refer to Local Government Victoria’s website for the template.|
2–4 weeks prior to requesting completing a personal interests return, update the FAQ document for nominated officers to support them in completing it.
|The FAQ document is available on the intranet. (EDMS reference 123456789)|
|4||Throughout the year, if a new staff member commences and that position is a nominated officer, confirm the start date with either the Executive Assistant of the area or People, Culture and Leadership. See step 5 below.||
Arrangements are in place for People, Culture and Leadership to advise Governance of changes tonominated officers.
Email a link or a copy of the Initial Personal Interests return on the day the nominated officer commences in the role or has been designated a nominated officer.
Email a link or a copy of the Initial Personal Interests Return on the first day the Return period.
|For example: Email sent to Bob Smith on 1 September 2021 at 9.05am (EDMS reference 123456789)|
|6||If the Initial Return has not been received by day 14, day 21 or day 28, send a reminder email to the nominated officer with the deadline.||
For example: First reminder email sent to Bob Smith on 15 September 2021 at 9.05am (EDMS reference 123456790)
|7||Contact the nominated officer to remind them that the Initial Personal Interests return must be completed and submitted by close of business on this day. Follow up with an email.||
For example: Final reminder sent to Bob Smith on 30 September 2021 at 9.05am (EDMS reference 123456791)
|8||Send an acknowledgement email to confirm receipt of the Initial Personal Interests Return||Indicate the Return is being reviewed.|
Review the Personal Interests Return.
Have all fields been completed?Is the information provided clear?
Have they entered information into all the fields?
If they had nothing to declare, has that been stated?
Is the information provide clear? Check for acronyms and obvious issues such as data in the wrong field, information that does not need declaration etc.
Has the nominated officer made a note that disclosure would place the personal safety of this person at risk or disclosure would unreasonably expose a business, commercial or financial undertaking to no advantage? If yes, ask the nominated officer to also make a formal request in writing to the CEO, as the CEO needs to consider, based on the application of the Officer, whether to publish the information in the summary.
Has it been signed by the nominated officer?Note: It is not the role of the Governance team to verify the property details, company details etc. Your role is to ensure all fields are completed and the information provided makes sense.
Accept/preliminary: check that all fields have been completed and the content is clear, send an email to the nominated officer to confirm status – if all fields are complete and information is clear, advise submitter that Return has been accepted.
It is the responsibility of the nominated officer to fully complete the form.Note: It is not the role of the Governance team to verify the property details, company details etc. Your role is to ensure all fields are completed and the information provided makes sense.
|11||Return/to be completed: if there are fields that have not been completed, return to the nominated officer, with an explanation as to what part(s) of the form need to be completed/updated. Ask that they return this as soon as possible. Review and if okay, then approve.||
It is the responsibility of the nominated officer to fully complete the form.
Note: It is not the role of the Governance team to verify the property details, company details etc. Your role is to ensure all fields are completed and the information provided makes sense.
|12||Prepare a summary of the information disclosed in the nominated officer’s personal interests return, with only the mandatory details that are required to be made public.||You can commence the preparation of the summary as returns are submitted.|
Forward a copy of the summary to the nominated officer to review prior to publishing. Check and make sure the nominated officer is comfortable with the details that will be published on-line.
Ensure that the nominated officer is aware, at the start of the process, the information that must be disclosed in the summary and there are only limited circumstances where information will not be published.
If a nominated officer expresses concerns about the information that will be published, have a conversation with them around the legislative constraints and ask them to apply to the CEO for certain information not to be published.
Publish the summary onto the Council website.
|Ideally publication should occur within 30 days of the date of submission.|
38 It is assumed that the Governance team is managing this process.
39 An EDMS, or electronic document management system, is software designed to centralise an organisation’s relevant documents.