Review of Victorian councils aims for ‘cultural improvement’

The Victorian Government will look at the “behaviour and culture” of local councils with a view to strengthening respect, integrity, and trust across the sector.

The review will be overseen by Local Government Victoria and will “be undertaken by a research institute, academic or person with appropriate skills and experience from the sector”.

The Minister for Local Government, Shaun Leane, says the review will begin with a discussion paper examining cultural issues within councils and ways to promote a more positive and inclusive work environment, including boosting the number of women in local government and making the sector a more welcoming and safe environment for women.

An audit report published in December found more than one in four councillors and council staff surveyed by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office had experienced sexual harassment in the past 12 months.

Mr Leane said: “The vast majority of councils and councillors do a fantastic job for their communities.

“But there have been examples of poor behaviour and bad governance in recent times – not just in Victoria but across the country. By working together we can improve the culture overall.”

A series of workshops with the local government sector will follow the publication of the discussion paper, with the final report due to be published in the last quarter of 2021.