Victorian council culture to come under the spotlight

The Victorian government has launched a project to look at the culture of the state’s councils and make them a safer space for women.

Professor Graham Sansom

The Local Government Culture Project will be delivered by Price Waterhouse Coopers and led by Professor Graham Sansom from UTS and Professor Anona Armstrong from the Victoria University College of Law and Justice.

The government says they study aims to identity past and present influences on local government culture and how to improve it in terms of better governance and increased public trust.

It also aims to make local government as safer space for women and help councils reach gender parity by 2025.

Local Government Minister Shaun Leane said women in local government, including those currently serving and those who would serve in the future, will be a significant focus of the project.

“Local councils play a crucial role in serving their communities and are a vital part of Victoria’s response to the coronavirus pandemic,” he said.

“We are working with councils to promote best practices and behaviours, for the benefit of all.”

The Victorian Local Government Association has welcomed the announcement saying councils across the state looked forward to providing input.

“As the local government peak body committed to supporting good governance in the sector, the VLGA recognises the value of a wide-ranging review into what influences culture and behaviour in Victorian councils,” VLGA President Cr Denise Massoud and CEO Kathryn Arndt said in a joint statement.

The said the business of local government is complex, and the ability to deliver value to the community is inextricably linked to the culture of individual councils.

“In particular, the ability for the council and elected representatives to model and uphold the principles of good governance – having regard for respect, collaboration, accountability, transparency, strategic focus, and delivery of the best possible outcomes,” they said.

Professor Sansom and Professor Armstrong will develop a discussion paper based on a research review and consultation with stakeholders which will be presented to the government.

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