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Guide to Councils

Complaint resolution bodies

You should only take your concern to another organisation if you have been unable to resolve your problem with the council itself. There are a number of organisations that can consider complaints relating to a council and each of these has specific roles and limitations.

As a general rule, a complaint should be in writing and should include the following:

  • brief statement about your issue
  • brief history of the case, including important dates or events
  • decision or action taken by the council
  • preferred outcome for this case going forward
  • copies of all correspondence to and from the council or any other material that records the contact made between parties involved.

Local Government Victoria

Local Government Victoria (LGV) is part of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. It supports and advises the Minister for Local Government in administering the Local Government Act 1989. LGV provides councils with advice about a range of matters including governance. It is important to note that neither LGV nor the Minister for Local Government is involved in the detailed management or day-to-day decisions of councils.

Complaints about councils that cannot be resolved through negotiation with the council itself, and which are not within other jurisdictions, may be directed, in writing, to Local Government Victoria or to the Minister for Local Government.

Breaches of the Local Government Act can be referred to the Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate.

Contact Local Government Victoria
Website
delwp.vic.gov.au/local-government
Address
2 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone
03 9948 8537
Fax
03 9027 5880
Email
local.government@delwp.vic.gov.au
Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech relay) users’ phone
1800 555 727 then 1300 366 356
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone
1800 555 677 then 1300 366 356
Internet relay users can connect to the National Relay Service
relayservice.com.au

Victorian Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate

The Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate (Inspectorate) is an independent administrative office of the Department of Premier and Cabinet, which reports to the Special Minister of State (SMOS). Led by the Chief Municipal Inspector, a key role of the Inspectorate is to promote voluntary compliance with the requirements of the Local Government Act 1989 (Act), and encourage best practice, accountability and transparency in local government.

The Inspectorate is staffed by Inspectors of Municipal Administration who carry out the two main functions of the Inspectorate. These are: investigating alleged breaches of the Act and administering a Compliance Audit program at councils across Victoria.

The Inspectorate has a specific focus on breaches that constitute an offence under the Act, and may investigate:

  • breaches of the Act involving a councillor, senior council officer or individual with delegated responsibility under the Act
  • any individual subject to the conflict of interest provisions within the Act
  • any individual where the matter relates to electoral provisions
  • the corporate governance of Victorian councils.

The Inspectorate may also:

  • monitor the electoral provisions of a council
  • provide recommendations to councils for continuous improvement
  • advise the Minister for Local Government where a serious failure of corporate governance has been identified at council
  • undertake prosecutions for offences under the Act.

The Inspectorate does not investigate complaints relating to council decisions or democratic processes unless there is an allegation of a breach of the Act. 

You can find out how to make a complaint to the Local Government Inspectorate on their website.

Contact
The Local Government Investigations and Compliance Inspectorate
Website
www.vic.gov.au/lgici
Address
1 Spring Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone 
03 9665 9555 
Complaints Hotline 
1800 469 359
Email
inspectorate@lgici.vic.gov.au
Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech relay) users’ phone
1800 555 727 then 1300 366 356
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone
1800 555 677 then 1300 366 356
Internet relay users can connect to the National Relay Service
relayservice.com.au

Victorian Ombudsman

The Victorian Ombudsman responds to complaints about local councils and state government departments and agencies. This is a free and independent service.

Under the Ombudsman Act 1973, the Ombudsman may be able to help you if your complaint is about an administrative action of a council. The Ombudsman cannot investigate the actions of an individual councillor, except when investigating a protected disclosure complaint under the Protected Disclosure Act 2012.

You can complain to the Ombudsman about something a council did or failed to do, or a decision it made or failed to make.

For example:

  • you made a complaint but the council is taking months to respond
  • the council says it’s fixed the problem, but you’re still not satisfied
  • the council has made a decision that you think is unfair.

The Ombudsman doesn’t deal with complaints about police, judges or employment issues.

There are some other limits on what the Ombudsman can do. For example, if your complaint is very old, or there is another body that can deal with it.

If you think you have been treated unfairly, the first step is to try and resolve your problem with the council. If that doesn't work, you can contact the Ombudsman.

You can find out more about when the Ombudsman can and can’t help by visiting its website.

Contact 
The Victorian Ombudsman 
Website 
ombudsman.vic.gov.au
Address 
Level 2, 570 Bourke Street Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone
03 9613 6222
Regional phone 
1800 806 314
Interpreter phone 
1300 655 082
Fax
03 9614 0246
Email
ombudvic@ombudsman.vic.gov.au
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone 
133 677 then 03 9613 6222
Internet relay users can connect to the National Relay Service 
relayservice.com.au

Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA)

Environment Protection Authority Victoria’s role is to be an effective environmental regulator and an influential authority on environmental impacts. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is charged with protecting the Victorian environment. EPA is an administrative office of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and reports to the Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water.

EPA aspires to create a healthy environment that supports a liveable and prosperous Victoria. The Victorian community plays a vital role in protecting the environment. EPA relies on the community to report incidents of pollution, environmental hazard or other activities potentially harmful to the environment.

Pollution is the introduction of substances into water, land or the atmosphere, so that the condition is adversely altered to be detrimental to its use, or harmful to the health or welfare of humans.

The environment that EPA strives to protect includes land, water, atmosphere and climate, noise, odours, tastes and aesthetics. An environmental hazard is a danger to humans or the environment caused by inappropriate storage or handling of toxic, corrosive, flammable, explosive, or infectious substances. For example, storage of dangerous chemicals or waste products in unsealed containers beside a creek.

You can report pollution to the EPA 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by phone or online.
Contact Environment Protection Authority Victoria
Website
epa.vic.gov.au
Address
200 Victoria Street, Carlton, VIC 3053
Phone
1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC)
Fax
03 9695 2610
Email
contact@epa.vic.gov.au
Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech relay) users’ phone 
1800 555 727 then 1300 366 356
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone
1800 555 677 then 1300 366 356 
Internet relay users can connect to the National Relay Service 
relayservice.com.au

Victorian Electoral Commission

The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) is an independent and impartial statutory authority that supports the Electoral Commissioner, who reports directly to Parliament. The VEC conducts Victorian state and local council elections, certain statutory elections and polls, and commercial and community elections.

The VEC also conducts boundary reviews, maintains the Victorian electoral enrollment register, conducts electoral research, provides education services, and works to engage all Victorians who are entitled to vote in the democratic process.

If you have a complaint or query about how your local council elections are run, the Returning Officer appointed by the VEC to run the election is the best starting point. The Returning Officer usually sets up an office in the municipality during the election and is able to respond to most enquiries.

If you have a concern about the way the Returning Officer runs the election, contact the VEC directly to pursue this. 

Contact Victorian Electoral Commission
Web vec.vic.gov.au
Email Level 11, 530 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone
131 832
Regional phone
03 8620 1100
Interpreter Service phone
03 9209 0112
Fax
03 9629 8632
Email
info@vec.vic.gov.au
Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech relay) users’ phone
1300 555 727 then ask for 03 8620 1100
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone
133 677 then ask for 03 8620 1100
Internet relay users can connect to the National Relay Service
relayservice.com.au

Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)

The Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) deals with a range of disputes. These include disputes between people and local government in many areas including: planning, land valuation, councillor conduct and objections to council decisions.

VCAT has a number of sections and each one deals with a different case. It is recommended that parties taking a matter to VCAT seek legal advice before deciding whether to proceed.

Contact Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT)
Website vcat.vic.gov.au
Address 55 King Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000 
Phone
1300 01 8228
Email
vcat-admin@vcat.vic.gov.au

Auditor-General

The Auditor-General is an independent officer of the Victorian Parliament, appointed to examine the management of resources within the public sector. The Auditor-General is supported by the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO), and conducts and reports on financial and performance audits.

The Auditor-General cannot be directed by anyone, including Parliament and the government, and dismissal of the Auditor-General is only possible by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament.

The Audit Act 1994 gives the Auditor-General the power to access all government information reports on findings arising from audits. The Auditor-General’s office is responsible for auditing the financial statements of around 590 public sector organisations, including the independent audit of council financial management and processes. The Auditor-General certifies each council's financial and performance statements as contained in its annual report.

The Auditor-General's office also assists councils to improve their financial performance by producing guidelines, reviews and model documents that councils can adopt. Occasionally the Auditor-General conducts a specific investigation into the financial affairs of a particular council. This may be as a result of an investigation into that council by Local Government Victoria or the involvement of the Ombudsman.

Contact Victorian Auditor General’s Office
Website audit.vic.gov.au
Address Level 24, 35 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone
03 8601 7000
Fax 
03 8601 7010
Email
ag@audit.vic.gov.au
Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech relay) users’ phone
1800 555 727 then 1300 366 356
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone
1800 555 677 then 1300 366 356
Internet relay users can connect to the National Relay Service
relayservice.com.au

Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission

The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) is an anti-corruption agency responsible for identifying, investigating, researching, exposing and preventing public sector corruption and police misconduct in Victoria. This includes members of parliament, the judiciary and state and local government.

IBAC is subject to scrutiny by the Victorian Inspectorate and the Parliamentary Committee. It has powers to investigate complaints assessed as serious corrupt conduct. You can report corruption to IBAC at any time by making a complaint. IBAC assesses complaints and helps you to understand your privacy options.

Outcomes of investigations, reviews and corruption prevention efforts are reported to Parliament.

Contact The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC)
Website ibac.vic.gov.au
Address Level 1, North Tower, 459 Collins Street, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone 
1300 735 135
Fax 
(03) 8635 6444
Email
info@ibac.vic.gov.au
Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech relay) users’ phone 
1800 555 727 then ask for 1300 735 135
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone
1800 555 677 then ask for 1300 735 135
Internet relay users can connect to the National Relay Service
relayservice.com.au

Victorian Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection

The Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection is an independent statutory body that monitors the responsible handling of personal information by the Victorian public sector, including councils.

Individuals whose personal information is, or has been, held by an agency or a local council may complain to the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection about an act or practice that may interfere with the privacy of the individual. The Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection will try to conciliate complaints. Where this is not possible, complaints may be referred to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal (VCAT).

Contact Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection
Website cpdp.vic.gov.au
Address Level 6, 121 Exhibition St, Melbourne, VIC 3000
Phone 
1300 666 444
Fax 
03 8684 1667
Email 
enquiries@cpdp.vic.gov.au
Speak and Listen (speech-to-speech relay) users’ phone
1800 555 727 then 1300 366 356
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone 
1800 555 677 then 1300 366 356
Internet relay users can connect to the National Relay Service
relayservice.com.au

Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission

Councils across Victoria engage with the diverse range of people in their communities. These people include children, families, people with disability, older people, migrants and refugees. As a result, local councils play an important role in protecting and promoting human rights. The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (the Commission) helps people resolve complaints of discrimination, sexual harassment and racial and religious vilification.

The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006 (the Charter) sets out the basic rights, freedoms and responsibilities of all Victorians. The Charter protects 20 fundamental human rights, including the right to recognition and equality before the law. These basic rights form the foundation of a democratic and inclusive society that values human dignity, equality and freedom.

The Charter requires local councils (as public authorities) to consider human rights when they make, interpret and apply laws, develop policies and provide day-to-day services.

Local councils must ensure that:

  • all council decisions give proper consideration to human rights
  • all actions, policies and services are compatible with human rights
  • local laws are interpreted and applied consistently with human rights
  • people who work on behalf of councils do so in a way that respects human rights.

The Commission is a statutory body that reports to the Victorian Parliament through the State Attorney-General. It is not a tribunal or court. It helps people to resolve complaints by mutual agreement. It does not prosecute, make judgements for or against either side, nor can it award compensation.

If you think a council has breached your human rights, you may be able to make a complaint to the Victorian Ombudsman. Human rights may also be raised in complaints to other relevant complaint-handling bodies. For example, the Disability Services Commissioner, the Health Services Commissioner or the Public Transport Ombudsman.

Complaints made under federal laws such as the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and the Disability Discrimination Act 2006 must be lodged with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

You can read more about local government’s obligations under the Charter.

Contact Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
Website humanrightscommission.vic.gov.au
Address Level 3, 204 Lygon Street, Carlton, VIC 3053
Phone 
1300 891 848
Fax
1300 891 858
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone
1300 289 621
Interpreters
1300 152 494
Email
information@veohrc.vic.gov.au

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission is a national independent statutory organisation established to promote and protect human rights in Australia. One of its main functions is to investigate and conciliate complaints concerning discrimination.

The Australian Human Rights Commission is responsible for administering the following federal laws:

  • Age Discrimination Act 2004
  • Disability Discrimination Act 2006
  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984
  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986.

The Commission is a neutral third party and does not represent the interests of either the person making the complaint or the person or organisation being complained about. It investigates and attempts to resolve the complaint through a conciliation process.

If you make a complaint under these laws and it can't be resolved through conciliation, you may choose to pursue the matter in court.

Contact Australian Human Rights Commission
Website humanrights.gov.au
Address Level 3, 175 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
Phone 
02 9284 9600
Fax 
02 9284 9611
Hearing impaired (TTY) users’ phone
1800 620 241
Email
infoservice@humanrights.gov.au

 

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