Discussion on cultural issues of local governments

A PROJECT to help improve the internal culture of local governments statewide is underway.

Victoria Local Government is currently seeking input to shape the Local Government Culture Project. A working paper on the issue was published late last year, highlighting that between 2016 and 2020 the Victorian government became involved in four anti-corruption investigations and five councils were removed from office.

The behavior of Frankston’s previous council saw a comptroller appointed by the state government in late 2017. She left in September 2019, leaving behind a damning report which said the councilors had acted in a “disrespectful, hostile and aggressive manner “(behaviour of the board ‘hostile and aggressive’, The temperature, 12/23/19). An adviser has been suspended for allegedly bullying a colleague during the 2016-20 term.

Only one Frankston councilor from 2016-2020 ended up being elected for the 2020-2024 term. During this council term, a first councilor was suspended for a month after posting social media posts denigrating council policy and decisions.

In a Local Government Inspectorate newsletter, Chief Municipal Inspector Michael Stefanovic AM said the local government culture project is important because “it is vital for democracy that local governments reflect the communities they serve. Behaviors such as bullying or sexual harassment can prevent good candidates from running for office.

“Misbehavior by councilors can affect the cohesiveness of a council group and lead to issues such as councilors voting en bloc, vexatious complaints to authorities, or a council’s inability to make decisions in the best interest of the council. the community,” he said. “Many complainants have approached us over the years with the mistaken impression that the Inspectorate can address issues of counselor misconduct. However, it is the responsibility of mayors and councilors to improve the culture of councils.

Local Government Minister Shaun Leane encouraged people to give their opinion on the project. “Victorians deserve the best from their elected representatives, and this is an opportunity for the local government sector to work to improve the culture of councils across the state so they can better serve their communities,” did he declare.

“Councils don’t get enough recognition for the great work they do in their communities. Unfortunately, the misbehavior of a few can taint the entire industry if not properly addressed. I invite members of the sector and community to speak out through this project to help strengthen the councils and build a sector we can all be proud of.

View the Local Government Culture Project discussion paper and provide feedback at localgovernment.vic.gov.au. Submissions are open until Monday, February 28, 2022.

First published in the Frankston Times – February 15, 2022