Universal training 

The objective of stage 1 of the review was to:

  • modernise local government; and
  • better position local government to deliver services to the community. 

This priority reform delivers on the following principles which underpinned stage one of the review:

  • participatory: strengthening local democracy through increased community engagement; 
  • accountability: holding local governments accountable by strengthening integrity and good governance; 
  • modernising: embracing contemporary models for governance and public sector management; and
  • enabling: local governments will be empowered to deliver for communities as autonomous bodies with powers and responsibilities specified in legislation.

The previous system

  • Council members have a unique and challenging role.
  • Council members oversee multi-million budgets and make difficult decisions that impact the wellbeing of communities.
  • For some aspects of their role, council members are required to receive training. Under the Planning and Development (Development Assessment Panels) Regulations 2011, council members appointed as a Development Assessment Panel (DAP) member are required to complete training.
  • Otherwise, prior to the review, council members were not required to undertake any other training.
  • Greater training for council members has been recommended by successive inquiries and reports.

Consultation

The department undertook consultation on the topic of universal training during stage one of the Local Government Act review consultation.

The following sections outline what was heard during consultation and how the feedback has informed changes to the Act.

What you’ve told us

  • There was very strong community support for training, particularly in metropolitan areas
  • Many stated that training should be optional and not compulsory
  • Some considered that a requirement to undertake training would be undemocratic
  • Access, expense and time is a major impediment to training in regional areas
  • Universal training in regional areas could result in more uncontested elections and unfillable vacancies
  • Councillors often thought ‘others’ needed training

Ideas for change

  • All council members to have the council member skillset
  • Mandatory training be introduced for all newly council members
  • Local government establish a council member training policy
  • Require candidates to attend an information session as an eligibility criterion for nomination
  • Recognise prior learning

Policy position

On 1 August 2018 the State Government announced their policy positions on the stage one priority reforms, including their position on universal training.  

The following report provides further information on the findings from consultation and the Government’s decision regarding universal training:

Universal training policy position

Reforms introduced

On 27 June 2019, the Local Government Legislation Amendment Act 2019 was passed by Parliament. This Amendment Act introduced universal training for candidates and council members.

Please refer to Reforms introduced for more information on the Amendment Act, and frequently asked questions on the reforms. 
Page reviewed 03 February 2020