Local Government

Every time you walk outside of your house, you will come across something provided, supported or maintained by your council. From pathways and roads to the local library, from the bridge across your rural road to the annual community festival which brings everyone together – all these things and many more are likely to involve your elected council.

Kids-in-a-community-gardenThe function of Victoria’s 79 local governments is very broad. The Local Government Act 1989  states that local government’s purpose is ‘…the peace, order and good governance…’ of the municipal district.

In practice, this means that individual councils can determine what they need to do to ensure “…peace, order and good governance…”. Essentially each council makes its own decisions based on its collective beliefs, the advice it receives, various financial considerations, legislative powers and so on.

If a council restricts its activities to ‘roads, rates and rubbish’ and its statutory obligations only, it’s the result of a series of political decisions rather than a legal determination which is based on the Act. And whatever decisions a council makes in this regard are ultimately reflected in the Council Plan and other key strategic documents.

Keep in mind though that what local governments can do is often limited by the roles of the State and Federal governments. Sometimes local government is powerless to do anything except advocate on behalf of the communities it represents.

Councillors work together to achieve the “big picture” goals and outcomes on behalf of communities in the municipality. As a candidate and potential councillor you will learn more about democratic “good governance”  that is, the processes for making and implementing decisions. Good decision-making processes, and therefore good governance, have a positive effect on local democracy. Consultation policies and practices, meeting procedures, service quality, councillor and officer conduct, role clarification and good working relationships all benefit with good governance.

As a candidate you need to understand what local government is – this will make your campaign more effective as you can explain what you will aim to achieve in a realistic way. Remember you don’t have to know everything! Once elected, councillors receive training and support.

See more at the good governance in local government website.

Victorian Councillor Facts

The average councillor puts in between 11 and 30 hour a week (MAV Councillor Census 2013).

If you are elected, you will receive a councillor allowance and have the right to claim other expenses such as for child care while performing your role.

Over 50 per cent of female councillors report they have caring responsibilities.

1.5 per cent of councillors identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

More than 30 per cent have one or more parents born overseas

Six per cent of councillors indicated they had a disability.

Ten per cent of councilors are under 35

*ref MAV Councillor Census 2013