Victorian councils urged to improve economic development monitoring

The Victorian Auditor-General has released a report, Local Government and Economic Development, recommending that Victorian regional and rural councils in particular should take steps to improve their economic development outcomes.

The report examines whether councils’ economic development activities help to improve the economic viability and sustainability of their municipalities.

It focuses on regional and rural councils because they face greater challenges to economic development compared to metropolitan councils and includes Bass Coast Shire Council, Corangamite Shire Council, Loddon Shire Council, Melton City Council and Southern Grampians Shire Council.

The report also examines the roles of Regional Development Victoria (RDV)—a statutory agency within the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources—and Local Government Victoria (LGV), which is part of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, in assisting councils to facilitate local economic development.

It recommended that councils:

  • regularly review alignment between economic development strategies and council plans to improve the continuity of longer term initiatives;

  • develop comprehensive performance measures for economic development with clearly articulated targets and benchmarks; and

  • monitor and report on economic development outcomes and clearly link actions to intended outcomes.

Recommendations for Regional Development Victoria were that it:

  • improve its existing work with councils to assess the deficiencies in councils’ funding grant applications and business cases, and provide support and training to develop the requisite skills;

  • increase council awareness of the Regional Development Victoria information portal and include further information and guidance to support councils; and

  • assess the effectiveness of the newly established regional partnerships

The report also recommended that Regional Development Victoria and Local Government Victoria work with councils to:

  • identify their economic development guidance and training needs, and then provide or facilitate access to appropriate resources (see Section 3.2)

  • identify and collect relevant information for planning and reporting on economic development—including completion of Local Government Victoria's ongoing work with Economic Development Australia Victorian State Practitioners Network

The report is available here.

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