Hume Council has welcomed the Victorian Local Governance Association’s (VLGA) call to action on negative council culture, made by the Victorian Local Government Culture Review Project.
The project provides a platform for the local government sector to examine and embrace a positive and inclusive culture, to improve governance and public trust.
The VLGA is an independent governance organization that helps councils and councilors strive to achieve high standards of local governance and wants to see tangible results from the project.
VLGA chief executive Kathryn Arndt said it was “disheartening” to see the important work of the councils, which are the arm of government closest to the people, being undermined by workplace behaviour.
“Beyond the legal obligations of boards to maintain safe workplaces, nurturing a culture of civil conduct inside and outside the board chamber is at the heart of good governance,” Ms Arndt said. .
“There is a difference between the ‘cut and push’ of political debate and conduct that threatens the ability of councilors and council officers to do their jobs.
“We hope to see these complex dynamics addressed through the [project].”
In June, it was revealed that the total cost of complaints and in-house arbitrations by advisers to Hume’s board was nearly $143,000. With cases still ongoing, the cost is expected to increase.
Hume chief executive Sheena Frost said the board “welcomes” continued work on the culture review project.
“We recognize VLGA’s call to action for advice and interest in working further with local government in Victoria following the Insights report to ensure local government is an inclusive and safe place to work and that councils serve the best interests of their communities,” Ms. Frost said. .
The results the VLGA hopes to see include increased voter awareness of local governance, training for male and female candidates, support for diversity and inclusion and support for chief executives to complete their work safely.
In addition, VLGA calls for a culture of training for advisors, building conflict resolution skills, and increased external support through expanded roles for controllers and governance organizations.