Local government is the third level of government in Australia. It was established by an Act of state parliament, which specifies local government powers, duties and functions.
In Victoria, local government is made up of 79 councils representing over five-and-a-half million people. Councils are area-based, representative governments with a legislative and electoral mandate to manage local issues and plan for the community’s needs.
Democratically elected members and staff make up local government and, in partnership with communities, manage more than $73 billion worth of community infrastructure and assets.
Victorian local government has an annual spend of $7.6 billion. It has 42,500 employees and provides more than 100 different services to people who live, work and visit the local council area.
Each council varies in size, population, rate base and resources, but all must operate in accordance with the Local Government Act 1989.
For more statistics, see the Victorian local government snapshot.
Role of local government
Local government has a significant impact on the lives of all Victorians.
It provides peace, order and good governance. It also delivers services and facilities for the community and manages the area's resources.
Local government is responsible for implementing many diverse programs, policies and regulations set by the Victorian and Australian governments.
Councils also have to respond to local community needs. They have powers to set their own regulations and by-laws, and provide a range of services.
Local laws developed by councils deal with important community safety, and peace and order issues.
Local laws often apply to noise, fire hazards, abandoned vehicles, parking permits, street stalls, disabled parking, furniture on footpaths, graffiti, burning off, animals in public spaces and nuisance pets.