Mandatory Candidate Training Review

The 2020 election cycle was the first time candidates had to complete a mandatory training program to be able to nominate.

Clear messages were provided by councillors, CEOs, Councillor Conduct Officers and peak bodies about the mandatory candidate training module rolled out for the 2020 election cycle through our councillor conduct framework sector engagement processes.

We recognise that it was a challenge to prepare an online training module, particularly during times of lockdowns due to the Covid 19 pandemic, however the feedback we received was that the candidate training could be improved.

The LGI has had recent discussions with LGV around their intentions for a review of the mandatory candidate training program in the lead up to the October 2024 election cycle. 

Given the election is in the not-too-distant future, LGV were receptive to hearing our thoughts.

The Project Team made a decision to suspended our work on the conduct framework review to enable us to provide preliminary recommendations to LGV about the mandatory training, which we believe should be called a ‘Candidate Awareness Program’, along with extensive draft content for their consideration.

The final report on the Councillor Conduct Framework examination will include recommendations around the candidate awareness training, however in an effort to influence what is rolled out for the 2024 election cycle, it was imperative to provide preliminary recommendations now.

Key aspects of our recommendations around a revised mandatory awareness program include:

  • dividing the candidate awareness training into several modules to provide a deeper understanding of what councils do and what it means to be a councillor
  • supporting the mandatory online module with mandatory attendance at regional, face-to-face sessions 
  • requiring all candidates to attend at least two council meetings, one of which should relate to the council budget development/adoption, within 12 months of Election Day 
  • inclusion of case studies to provide ‘real life’ examples of the issues councillors face, which may include links to council meetings to highlight good practice
  • mandatory reviews of the candidate awareness program after every election cycle
  • review of the 2-year window currently available to complete the online mandatory training given the likelihood of changes to legislation and issues closer to Election Day (we believe completion within 6 months of Nomination Day is more appropriate).

The content we have developed, which would form the basis of a broader program, is divided into the following parts:

  • Overview of what it means to be a councillor – eligibility criteria, what councils do, role of a councillor, competencies candidates need to be effective councillors, role of the mayor, role of the CEO, role of council staff
  • Councillor Conduct – behaviour and conduct standards, councillor conduct framework, penalties for misconduct/serious misconduct/gross misconduct, confidentiality
  • Personal Interests – conflict of interests, personal interest returns, election campaign donations, transparency and accountability mechanisms under the Act
  • Decision Making – decision making powers of council, information provided to councillors to inform decisions, delegation of powers to officers, how council meetings operate, council as a planning authority/responsible authority
  • Legislation and Policies – key legislation, council policies (including mandatory policies required under the Act), including a timetable of key policies/strategies that council must prepare and adopt in the first 12 months of office
  • Support for Councillors – allowances and support from the administration
  • What else candidates need to know – steep learning curve for the first 12 months, the importance of strong relationships/ within and between the councillor group and the CEO/Executive, the types of documents that councillors need to review and understand, ongoing professional development opportunities
  • Where can candidates learn more – links to LGV, MAV, VLGA and RCV websites, along with a list of key documents candidates should look for on their council’s website.

LGI has also made recommendations that the eligibility criteria should be revised to add:

  • A mandatory requirement to attend at least 2 council meetings in person, one of which should relate to the preparation/adoption of the annual council budget (to address concerns raised by the sector that many new councillors in 2020 had no knowledge of how council meetings operated and had not attended a meeting before).
  • A National Police check (to address issues relating to suitability for office raised through the matters we have investigated over this council term and the need to improve the integrity/suitability of the Act).

If you'd like to provide feedback on our ideas around a revised candidate awareness program, please email