Monitors back at Darebin

Municipal monitors been appointed at Darebin City for the second time after the council failed to adequately address issues raised in a previous report.

Melissa Horne: not satisfied

Victoria’s minister for local government has the power to appoint monitors to councils that are experiencing governance issues, and Darebin is the tenth council to have monitors appointed since December 2021.

Local government minister Melissa Horne announced on Monday that June Anstee and Ross Millard have been appointed from April 29 until December 31, and are tasked with providing the minister with a report at the end of their term.

The minister had previously appointed municipal monitor John Watson from April 2022 to January 2023 following governance concerns at the council including bullying, conflict of interest issues and inadequate community engagement.

Other concerns related to processes used to appoint the CEO.

“The presence of a Monitor has positively influenced councillor behaivour,” Mr Watson said in his February 2, 2023 report.

“Notwithstanding this observation, personal and political divisions between councillors are still present.”

Ms Horne said While Darebin City Council has taken steps to address concerns raised in Mr Watson’s report, work is still needed to improve its governance processes and practices.

“The monitors will work closely with Darebin City Council to ensure governance and other improvements are fully implemented and will ensure stability at the council following the October 2024 elections,” she said.

Ms Anstee and Mr Millard will support Darebin City Council to improve governance and better meet the needs of the community it serves.”

Ms Anstee is a former President of the Councillor Conduct Tribunal for Brisbane City Council and Mr Millard previously held a role with the Local Government Inspectorate in Victoria.

The monitors will focus on a range of issues including relationships between councillors and staff; dispute resolution; councillors’ understanding of confidentiality requirements; and the adequacy of Council’s community engagement policies and practices.

It comes less than a week after Ms Horne announced monitors had been reappointed at Glenelg Shire Council amid ongoing concerns.

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