Roles & responsibilities

As the governing body of a local municipality, councillors play a vital leadership role in creating and implementing their community's vision, strategic direction and the values within which they operate.

Local government is complex and vibrant. It requires talented and dedicated individuals to participate in making the decisions that count. Councillors often need to make decisions that may be unpopular or affect people's lives.

Councillor role

Through full participation in local government, councillors learn about democratic consultation processes at a formal and informal level. They are responsible and accountable for what they do.

The Local Government Act states that the role of a councillor is to:

  • participate in the decision-making of the council
  • represent the local community in that decision-making
  • contribute to the strategic direction of the council through the development and review of key strategic documents of the council, including the council plan.

In performing the role of a councillor, a councillor must:

  • consider the diversity of interests and needs of the local community
  • observe principles of good governance and act with integrity
  • provide civic leadership in relation to the exercise of the various functions and responsibilities of the council under the Local Government Act and other Acts
  • participate in the responsible allocation of resources of council through the annual budget
  • facilitate effective communication between the council and the community.

Councillors guide the development of local policies, set service standards and priorities, and monitor the performance of the organisation.

Local government is the third tier of government for Australian citizens. It is about the needs, interests and aspirations of communities. Councillors provide an invaluable link between the community and council.

Key responsibilities

The key responsibilities of councillors are to:

  • determine financial strategy and budget
  • allocate resources
  • liaise with other levels of government, the private sector and non-government community groups
  • plan strategically for the whole municipality and a sustainable future
  • represent all ratepayers and residents
  • monitor the performance of the council
  • advocate on a broad range of issues
  • be responsible for the stewardship of community assets
  • facilitate community participation
  • appoint and review the performance of the chief executive officer (CEO)
  • maintain a good working relationship with the CEO.

The Local Government Act 1989 places a clear responsibility on elected councillors to provide leadership and good governance for the municipal district and the community.

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