Leading the conversation on standards of behaviour in local government - VLGA hosts FastTrack Program event on 17 November

Friday, 10 November 2023

The Victorian Local Governance Association (VLGA) has announced that the Victorian Minister for Local Government, The Hon Melissa Horne MP, will deliver an address at its recognised FastTrack Program event on Friday 17 November 2023 which is themed “Civility in Local Government”. She joins distinguished speakers, councillors and council officers from across Victoria’s 79 local councils. 

The program theme “Civility in Local Government” follows a Victorian government review into the culture of local councils commissioned in 2022 with an interim report making significant findings about the support infrastructure required to improve councillor behaviour and ethics, promote outstanding and diverse leadership, and cause structural sector-wide improvements. 

Other program speakers include Melissa Scadden, Managing Partner at Justitia Lawyers; Lydia Kahill, Research Fellow at the Lowy Institute; Associate Professor Dr Josh Roose, Deakin University; Cr Nicholas Reece, Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne; and Psychologist Monique Toohey. These discussions will be moderated by Chris Eddy, the host of VLGA Connect. 

The VLGA FastTrack Program is designed to engage and equip councillors and local government executives with the knowledge and skills required to become dynamic leaders within their communities and promises to be an inspiring day of growth and collaboration. 
VLGA President Cr Denise Massoud welcomed Minister Horne’s participation. 

“Having Minister Horne address our FastTrack Program will give councillors and council officers from across Victoria a chance to speak directly to the Victorian Government on a topic that is of urgent importance for local communities and their elected representatives.” 

“Our democracy relies on community participation and open and transparent meetings. Incivility and inappropriate behaviour threatens to weaken this foundation. Councils must prioritise maintaining public access and participation, while ensuring the safety of mayors, councillors, staff, and community members.” 

VLGA CEO, Kathryn Arndt, stressed the importance of tackling issues of civility and appropriate behaviour. 

“The conversation on civility and respect is a critical one for local councils and communities. There are new threats and dangers to local democracy that we have seen disrupting the functioning of local government.” 

“Victorian councils will go to the polls in late 2024 and issues of integrity and behaviour will be top of mind for many community members as they consider the performance of their local councillors. Councillors and councils need new tools to meet community expectations and to ensure they stay connected to the communities they serve in a time of rapid change.” 

About the VLGA FastTrack Program 

FastTrack is a comprehensive full-day program that includes dynamic panel discussions, each addressing critical facets of leadership in the local government context.  

In the first panel discussion Melissa Scadden, Managing Partner at Justitia Lawyers, Cr Nicholas Reece, Deputy Lord Mayor of the City of Melbourne, and Lydia Kahlil from the Lowy Institute, will bring their expertise to "Depolarising from Within: Managing Difficult Conversations with Constituents and Colleagues." Attendees will learn skills to focus on holding and maintaining productive conversations, even when not in agreeance.    

The second panel titled "Strategies to Improve Civil Discourse in Public Meetings," will feature insights from notable panellists to assists councils to develop effective management strategies. Hear from Associate Professor Dr. Josh Roose from Deakin University, Sheena Frost, CEO of Hume City Council, and Emily Keogh, Executive Manager Corporate Affairs, Wyndham City Council who will each bring their different perspectives to the topic. 

The final session will explore "Cultural Intelligence in Leadership: The Psychology of Doing Difference Well," led by Monique Toohey, a distinguished proponent of Cultural Intelligence, who is renowned as a Psychologist, Cultural Intelligence Advisor, and author. Cultural Intelligence is vital in today’s world to relate and work effectively with people from a diversity of backgrounds. Participants will gain insights into how these dimensions influence behaviour and learn to navigate cultural differences effectively. 

Throughout these panel discussions, guest speakers will offer their invaluable perspectives on the chosen theme, and participants will have the opportunity to engage in interactive Q&A sessions, promoting a lively exchange of ideas and knowledge. 

To register your place, click here