Supporting the development of Councillor Codes of Conduct as required by the Local Government Act 2020.
How to Create a Code that Works for Your Council
It is sound practice for councils to develop meaningful codes of conduct. Under the Local Government Act 2020 (Vic) (LGA), councils must review and adopt a Councillor Code of Conduct (Code) within 4 months of the general election, or 24 February 2020.
In addition to mandatory provisions such as standards of Councillor conduct, a Code may also include “any other matter which the Council considers appropriate”. So the Code of Conduct presents a valuable opportunity for Councils to establish some agreed “rules of engagement” or principles that Councillors agree will guide their interactions with each other, Council staff and the community.
The VLGA and Justitia Lawyers see a shared value in early intervention around conflict. We like to build the capacity of individuals to resolve conflict, or to escalate it in a way that ensures working relationships can be maintained rather than be permanently damaged.
Together, we aim to work with Councillors to equip them with the tools they need to ensure a safe and effective working environment. Our combined experience has shown that consultation, education and good communication, as well as documentation of intent and clear guidelines are necessary to effectively manage issues that commonly arise in the Council setting. It requires a constant focus and should be revisited on a regular basis as Council groups change their membership, and the relationship with executives evolves over time.
The VLGA and Justitia Lawyers are pleased to provide a training offering to Victorian councils in meeting their Code of Conduct responsibilities. This will take the form of an interactive workshop where Councils consider their current Code and what amendments are required to ensure compliance with the LGA, as well as exploring the opportunity for the Council to agree rules of engagement designed to promote healthy and effective working relationships, as well some tools for effectively managing conflict.
Further information is available here.