Focus on Vic Councils

Victorian Councils were focused on economic development but needed better methods to measure outcomes, according to a recently released Victorian Auditor-General Office report Local Government and Economic Development.

The report noted that “a number of Victorian Councils, particularly non-metropolitan Councils, have experienced a decline in their economic growth over the past 10 years. This report examines whether Councils’ economic development activities help to improve the economic viability and sustainability of their municipalities.”

Regional and rural Councils were the focus of the report because they faced greater economic challenges than metropolitan ones. The Councils included Bass Coast Shire Council, Corangamite Shire Council, Loddon Shire Council, Melton City Council and Southern Grampians Shire Council.

Also examined were the roles of Regional Development Victoria and Local Government Victoria in assisting Councils to facilitate local economic development.

The report found the Councils focused on economic development; their economic development strategies aligned with state and regional priorities; Councils had established teams responsible for economic development and there was evidence of robust engagement with all relevant stakeholders at the local level.

There were three recommendations for Councils:

  • Regularly review alignment between economic development strategies and Council plans to improve the continuity of longer term initiatives.
  • Development comprehensive performance measures for economic development with clearly articulated targets and benchmarks.
  • Monitor and report on economic development outcomes and clearly link actions to intended outcomes.

Recommendations for Regional Development Victoria:

  • Improve the existing work with Councils to assess the deficiencies in Councils’ funding grant applications and business cases,and provide support and training to develop the requisite skills.
  • Increase Council awareness of the Regional Development Victoria information portal and include further information and guidance to support Councils.
  • Assess the effectiveness of the newly established regional partnerships.

The report further recommended that RDV and LGV work with Councils to:

  • Identify their economic development guidance and training needs, and then provide or facilitate access to appropriate resources.
  • Identify and collect relevant information for planning and reporting on economic development, including completion of Local Government Victoria’s ongoing work with the (Economic Development Australia) Victorian State Practitioners Network.

The full report can be viewed here.