This report represents a significant body of work from the initial receipt of information to the investigation of allegations and an examination of Yarriambiack Shire Council’s governance arrangements.
Our work focussed on specific allegations where community assets and resources had either not been properly managed or were used to the benefit of individuals, not the community as a whole. Importantly, our focus was also on the prevailing management, oversight and governance arrangements that should ensure community assets and funds are used equitably and responsibly. In many instances, this was found to be deficient.
I must acknowledge the significant improvements and change the council has implemented in the 12 months since the involvement of the Inspectorate. Many of the issues raised in this report have since been addressed or are in the process of rectification. However, broader concerns revolve around the effectiveness of council in monitoring organisational performance, accountable and responsible use of resources and adherence to legislated governance arrangements.
What we found in the course of this investigation unfortunately is not unique to Yarriambiack. Similar issues or themes have been present at all recent regional council examinations conducted by this office. With the increasing complexity of council organisations as a service delivery business, our work has shown healthy involvement of councillors in the function of democratic representation but identified gaps in the required skills and capacity to provide the necessary governance oversight. This is an issue my office will continue to provide information and guidance on across the local government sector.
The council and individuals that may be identified due to their current or former position were provided a copy of this report in advance and invited to provide comment. One formal response was received from the council which is reproduced in this report.
Our investigation has presented challenges for Yarriambiack Shire Council but we have been encouraged by the willingness to improve and a cohesive councillor group. I also wish to acknowledge the administrative and operational staff who willingly participated in this investigation.
Reviewed 07 February 2020