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About local government

Local government is the third level of government in Australia and has a significant impact on the lives of all Victorians. It was established by an Act of state parliament, which specifies council powers, duties and functions.

In Victoria, local government is made up of 79 councils representing over 5.5 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.

Victorian local government maintains peace, order and good governance.

It delivers more than 100 different services to people who live, work and visit the local council area.

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.

Local government is responsible for implementing many diverse programs, policies and regulations set by the Victorian and Australian governments.

Victorian 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.

Each municipality varies in size, population, rate base and resources, but all must operate in accordance with the Local Government Act 1989.

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Local Government facts

  • Victoria has 79 municipalities:
    • 31 metropolitan (including eight interface councils)
    • 48 rural and regional (including 10 regional cities)
    • Populations range from 3,000 to more than 283,000
    • Land area varies from 10.8 sq km to 22,000 sq km
    • Each also varies in rate base, needs, infrastructure and resources.
  • Each municipality manages significantly different budgets:
    • Rural council budgets average $55 million (smallest is approx $11.6 million)
    • Metropolitan council budgets average $170 million (largest is approx $385 million)
  • Governed by 631 democratically elected councillors:
    • 414 male councillors
    • 217 female councillors
  • Employs 47,166 people
    • 29,039 female employees
    • 18,127 male employees
  • Annual revenue of $7.99 billion
  • Responsible for $73 billion in community infrastructure and assets, such as roads, bridges, town halls, recreation and leisure facilities, drains, libraries and parks.

For more statistics, see service delivery statistics in local government.

Local laws

Local laws developed by a council deal with important community safety, and peace and order issues such as public health, management of council property, environment and amenity.

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.

Assets and infrastructure

Assets and infrastructure managed by councils include:

  • local roads and bridges
  • drains and litter bins
  • public street lighting
  • foot and bike paths
  • school crossings
  • bus shelters
  • parking spaces
  • libraries and internet services
  • sporting facilities
  • community halls
  • parks and gardens
  • swimming pools and playgrounds
  • animal shelters
  • cemeteries
  • public toilets
  • public art.

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