Rural Council Sustainability
The financial and operational sustainability of rural councils has been raised as an ongoing priority by member councils over recent years, including during consultations for the development of RCV’s Strategic Plan in late 2013 and early 2014.
This project seeks to answer the question:
How can RCV best support councils to build capacity and improve performance in the context of the wider local government reform agenda of the Victorian government?
The Rural Council Sustainability Project seeks to identify the best ways for RCV to support rural councils’ elected members and senior staff to demonstrate their leadership on improving sustainability within local and across regional boundaries, manage the changing demands and expectations of stakeholders, and maximise outcomes for communities.
This project will be conducted in two stages.
RCV has engaged the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) to develop a sustainability strategy. The first action was to gain agreement across the 38 Victorian rural councils on the key issues and challenges they face. A conversation was held with Mayors, coucnillors, CEOs and senior managers via five regional workshops held across the state in early October 2014 as part of RCV’s Innovate & Educate Spring Tour. This was followed by a workshop with member councils’ Mayors and CEOs at the October 2014 RCV Forum.
The workshops considered findings in the Discussion Paper which summarises existing empirical data on the following topics:
• Demographics and workforce data
• Financial profiles
• Spatial organisation
• Areas for building strategic capacity – Shared service delivery, Financial and asset management, Strategic leadership, Service reviews and reviewing levels of service.
Stage Two built on the findings of Stage One to:
- Test a detailed approach to ‘local government strategic capacity’ and capability elements with individual RCV councils
- Conduct individual council assessments of how RCV councils perceive their performance under ‘key capability’ areas.
- Compare individual RCV Council self-assessments in key capability areas against existing baseline data, including detailed financial analyses
- Identify the capability gap for individual RCV councils, and make recommendations for improving long term success
- Test areas for future facilitation and support, to ensure future capacity building initiatives are well targeted to the needs of individual RCV councils.