Getting the best advice

Trialing of a unique program fostering better Local Government and better cooperation between Councils and the State Department has just been completed in Western Australia.

Under the Council Advice Program (CAP), Councils invite an expert panel comprising a senior officer from the Department of Local Government, an experienced elected member and a CEO from another Council to undertake an organisational review.

The review consists of an on site evaluation of the Council's operations. This involves a questionnaire, interviews and meetings with staff to ascertain possible areas for improvement.

Participation is voluntary and Councils are asked to nominate particular concerns prior to the review. These could include meeting procedures, planning issues, financial dilemmas, conflicts and relationships with the community.

The CAP panel reports on its findings to Council, commenting and making recommendations on the following areas.

  • Whether the Council's performance is satisfactory or better.
  • Best practice approaches which may be applicable to other Councils.
  • Whether some areas meet a new approach.
  • Ideas from other Councils worth trying.

Councils may also request a community survey be conducted to provide objective assessment of community relationships. Although not required to implement recommendations, Councils are urged to give them serious consideration. Many of the 12 Councils that participated in the trial have released their final report for public comment.

"I believe Council and senior staff members found it a balanced program making some excellent recommendations," said Bill Atkinson, Shire Clerk at Dalwallinu. "When implemented these will further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the organisation. The process offered many insights which might not otherwise have come to light."

A review of CAP is currently being undertaken to determine its effectiveness before full implementation.

For further information contact Adrienne Inch at the WA Department of Local Government, telephone (08) 9222 0562.