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Guide to Councils

Recreation and culture

Recreation and cultural services include a broad range of programs, events and activities provided by local councils. These vary from council to council. Contact your local council to find out about local services.

Programs, events and activities may include:

  • halls and public buildings
  • sport and recreation facilities (sports grounds, swimming pools, support for clubs, junior development programs)
  • leisure and arts facilities (public art, theatre productions, public festivals and events)
  • parks, gardens and reserves (including walking and bike trails)
  • libraries and museums (static and mobile library services)
  • historic buildings and places
  • coordination of one-off events (arts festivals, national/international sports events, local Australia Day celebrations.

A council may be involved as an organiser, as a lead agency in securing funding, as a source of funds itself (e.g. through minor grants programs to community groups), as a source of information and advice and as the operator of a recreation or cultural facility.

Councils often cooperate closely with the community to run recreation and culture programs and facilities. Councils also work in partnership with other tiers of government to fund and coordinate new activities or facilities.

Councils often cooperate closely with the community to run recreation and culture programs and facilities. Councils also work in partnership with other tiers of government to fund and coordinate new activities or facilities.

Public libraries

Every council in Victoria provides a library service for its community. There were nearly 30 million visits to the 272 public library branches and 29 mobile libraries across the state in 2014-15.

Public libraries provide a safe, neutral, welcoming environment and are one of the key amenities that bring people together, building stronger communities.

In some cases, library services are provided jointly by a number of councils under a regional library agreement. Library services may be provided at fixed locations or as mobile services.

While libraries traditionally provide book-borrowing services, their roles have diversified in recent years in line with changes in technology. Libraries in Victoria now provide a wide range of services, including:

  • book borrowing
  • internet access
  • computer search facilities
  • lending DVDs, CDs and audio cassettes
  • toy libraries
  • connecting people with government services
  • promoting local cultural activity and art
  • supporting access to business information
  • providing training opportunities.

Contact your local library to find out what services it provides.

Each council's performance for Libraries can be viewed and compared in the Compare Councils section of this site. To do this, click on the service area icon, select your council from the filter, then use the checkbox to select three additional similar councils for comparison from the list.

Sports and leisure centres

Councils are the predominant owners (and therefore suppliers) of sport and recreation facilities in Victoria. They provide a range of facility types, including but not limited to indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities, indoor sports stadiums, sports grounds and pavilions, play spaces, skate parks, parks and recreation trails.

In many cases, councils lead infrastructure development and maintenance activities to ensure sport and recreation activities are undertaken in facilities that are safe, and meet statutory and sport-specific requirements for a range of sport and recreation activities.

Some facilities are managed directly by councils, while others are contracted to relevant not-for profit and for-profit management agencies. Councils can also provide tenancy arrangements (seasonal, license and lease) to their facilities for a range of not-for-profit sporting organisations to conduct activities for the community. Councils also act as Committees of Management over Crown Land Reserves, to ensure facilities are available and managed appropriately for the community’s benefit.

In many parts of Victoria, councils take a lead role in working with a range of stakeholders such as Regional Sports Assemblies and State Sporting Associations to develop new sporting clubs, facilitate activities and programs that promote physical activity, health and general wellbeing. Councils also work closely with their local communities to draw linkages between sport and recreation, and youth services, health promotion, community development, disability services, accessible infrastructure, and the changing needs of new communities.

Primarily, councils work in these areas to promote healthy, engaged and liveable communities, where sport and recreation can play a lead role in this ambition.

Contact your local council for more information on sports and recreation facilities in your area.

Each council's performance for Aquatic Facilities can be viewed and compared in the Compare Councils section of this site. To do this, click on the service area icon, select your council from the filter, then use the checkbox to select three additional similar councils for comparison from the list.

Parks and public spaces

Public spaces play an important role in a municipality as they provide places for exercise, quiet reflection, children’s play and organised sport. These spaces also provide a location for participating in civic life.

Open spaces

Open spaces contribute to many environmental benefits, including protecting biodiversity, reducing urban heat and regulating air and water quality. They also help to build social connections by providing opportunities for gathering and providing a context for cultural heritage, artistic expression and diversity.

Community centres

Community centres provide a variety of programs and activities specifically for their local communities. These can include children and youth programs, art, music, cooking and computer classes, English and other language lessons and community lunches. They are often partially or wholly funded by council.