What is Council advocacy?
One of the primary roles of local government is to provide leadership on behalf of the local community through advocacy. Advocacy means seeking the support of partners to help us deliver the services our community needs.
What is Council’s role in advocacy?
Until very recently, advocacy was enshrined in Victorian legislation as a required role of local government. The Local Government Act 2020 still pays tribute to the importance of partnering with stakeholders, including other levels of Government, to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.
How do we advocate?
Council undertakes a range of activities throughout the year to advocate for our community’s most important issues including:
- partnering with other organisations
- securing external funding
- making submissions to government and parliamentary enquiries and
- running campaigns to raise awareness of issues in the community.
Some of the ways we might draw attention to issues that need fixing include writing letters to decision-makers, starting petitions, and publicly promoting our campaigns through marketing and advertising.
When do we advocate?
Some projects and initiatives are out of Council’s direct control – like building train stations, or upgrading major roads to ease traffic and improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. Even though these projects cannot be delivered by Council directly, we know they are important to our community. So, we advocate to other levels of government to turn good ideas, into reality.
Some issues affect more than one council – they may even affect all of local government. Examples of this might include changes to the way the Federal and State Governments fund and regulate early years education and childcare, or aged care. It might include improving our approach to collection of waste and recycling, or measures to achieve carbon neutrality, or programs and projects which result in a more equal society. In these cases, a strategic approach to advocacy may involve joining together with other local governments through peak bodies and stakeholder networks, to advance our shared interest.
Other projects, like building a new leisure centre or a community hub, do sit within the direct purview of Council. To deliver these projects promptly and help balance the contribution made by ratepayers, we seek funding from other interested partners. This might look like applying for grants, or seeking funding commitments at election time. Possible funding partners might include the State or Federal Governments, independent funding partners or philanthropists, or even the private sector.
How did you choose the draft priorities?
The priorities in our draft Advocacy Strategy were chosen to align with our long-term vision, MV2040 and our Council Plan 2021-25, which was the subject of extensive community engagement. They also reflect feedback we received in response to our annual Community Survey, and from Councillors.
How will you decide how, why and when advocacy occurs?
Once Council has our new Advocacy Strategy finalised, we’ll also be adopting an Advocacy Framework. The Framework will outline how we advocate, in what circumstances, and at what times. It will talk about who the key decisionmakers are who inform Council’s advocacy, and how the community can get involved. Keep an eye out for consultation on that document early in 2022.