VLGA wants helpline for councillors, execs

The Victorian Local Government Association wants to establish a helpline and early intervention services for elected officials and local government executives by 2024, as a way to improve governance across the sector.

Kathryn Arndt

It’s also aiming to foster more partnerships with professional organisations to provide councillor training, mentorship and mediation services, professional development and community education.

VLGA’s four-year Strategic Plan, which aims to strengthen good decision making and culture within local government, was launched at the peak’s annual councillor development day in Melbourne on Friday.

It identifies a range existing challenges to good governance, including:

  • insufficient support for councils and councillors to address conflict  early and respectfully
  • poor awareness and understanding of governance standards under the Local Government Act
  • poor community understanding of the role of local government
  • structural barriers

The plan aims to strengthen the VLGA brand and increase its engagement with councils, councillors and other interested parties, and evolve into a national councillor support network by 2027.

VLGA CEO Kathryn Arndt said the objectives are designed to translate into programs to support good governance and better decision making.

“The fact is, we know when communities, economies and the environment are well governed; people feel that they belong, can contribute, and thrive,” she said.

“We look forward to working with our members and all those passionate in our community around the role of councils, to now bring this plan to life.” 

Local government insights

The plan was informed by member and stakeholder consultation last year and aligned with state-wide research from PwC in the Local Government Culture Project Insights Report, VLGA Presdient Denise Massoud said.

The report, released last May, identified a number of key issues for improvement including leadership skills, ‘councillor journey’ and dispute resolution.

“As the only peak body for good governance in local government in Australia, we are committed to bring about the programs, support and guidance that local elected representatives need to ensure good governance and leadership,” Cr Massoud said in a statement.  

“This Strategic Plan outlines directly how we will do this by using our seat at the table in Victoria, and across borders, to bring about the skills and capacities that our current and future councillors need.”

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