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Why local government?

The role of local government

Local government deals with the issues that affect communities every day.

Councils spend over $8 billion annually to provide more than 100 different services to communities, and are responsible for more than 85 per cent of Victoria’s road network, and other community facilities. (Source: Vic Councils)

Every day, local councils make decisions about:

  • Arts & cultural services and events
  • Business services
  • Cleaning & waste
  • Community development
  • Emergency management
  • Environment
  • Equality & diversity
  • Family & children
  • Health & safety
  • Local laws & permits
  • Parks & gardens
  • Pets & animals
  • Planning & building
  • Roads & transport
  • Sport & recreation
  • Youth services

Local councillors should be as diverse as the communities they represent.

In Victoria, there are 79 councils which represent over 5.9 million people. All councils have between five and twelve councillors, who are elected by the people who live in the area or who own a local property or business. Depending on financial resources and the needs of the community, services provided can vary.

Find out more about councils in Victoria and their jurisdictions.

The role of a councillor

Councillors perform a diverse range of tasks every day. They receive an allowance determined by the council and set by the state government.

Councillors play important roles in reflecting and responding to their specific community needs, in the following ways:
  • Representing and engaging with their community
  • Leadership and advocacy
  • Decision-making
  • Working to improve community outcomes

All councillors must attend a minimum number of council meetings. It’s up to each councillor to decide how much time they want to spend on council activities on top of these meetings. Most councillors spend between 10-20 hours a week fulfilling their roles as a councillor and work irregular hours attending meetings and functions.

Often councillors undertake their work on a part-time basis, while balancing family, community work and other paid work. It’s important to consider how you may manage these commitments within current work, life and family commitments.

Why run for council

Running for council can give you the opportunity to:

  • Influence outcomes on issues that you believe in
  • Contribute to policy and programs that impact on the local community
  • Meet people from other places and from all walks of life
  • Work on interesting and diverse local issues
  • Learn more about your community through an interesting and diverse workload
  • Develop a range of policy, negotiation, and procedural skills.

The importance of good governance

Good governance is an important aspect of leadership. It’s about the processes for making and implementing decisions. It’s not about making ‘correct’ decisions, but about the best possible process for making those decisions.

Practising good governance looks like:

  • Accountability and transparency
  • Equitable, inclusive and participatory leadership
  • Following the rules
  • Effective, efficient and responsive behaviour
Not ready to nominate, but know a woman who should? Then #TapHerOnTheShoulder and #AskHer. Your encouragement could help her to realise that she’s the right woman to stand. Your actions (and your vote) matter this year, more than ever. And don’t forget, you can always nominate yourself in the 2024 council elections.

Source: Local Women Leading Change – Your Campaign Toolkit, Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA), 2020.

Campaign Playbook

A guide to council elections in Victoria.

PDF | 2.1MB
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