Continued training support for Local Governments in WA would help confirm if the State Government is serious about improving Council governance and processes.

An increase of 23% per cent of Elected Members attending training courses in the past three years demonstrates that Councils are increasingly committed to improvement.

Critical to the delivery of training by the WA Local Government Association during this time was funding from the Department of Local Government and Communities through the Royalties for Regions, Country Local Government Fund.

WALGA President Cr Lynne Craigie said there had been a number of governance and process issues identified in separate WA Councils in recent times and the majority of Elected Members recognised the risk and need for improvements.

“The increased uptake of training across the sector proves recognition of the need to improve and identify possible risks in our roles,” Cr Craigie said.

“Funding provided by the State Government was invaluable to delivering face to face training in regional areas, and these opportunities will diminish when funding ceases in June next year.

“If the State is genuinely concerned at Local Government’s governance capacity, we call upon them to continue their funding support for training.”

Cr Craigie said while efforts were being made to improve knowledge, recent issues needed to be considered in an appropriate context.

“Corruption and Crime Commission figures from 2015-16 recorded 4024 allegations of misconduct and corruption,” Cr Craigie said.

“Of these, more than 3000 related to State Government agencies whilst just 325 related to Local Governments.

“A further CCC report was published in 2015 after a number of Councils underwent voluntary audits to identify any potential risks in their processes, with sector wide forums and educational activity following on from this.”

Cr Craigie noted State Government examples included more than $40m in contract variations for State Government agency IT contracts and significant issues with management of the Perth children’s hospital project.

“Local Government believes any number of valid complaints is an issue for the sector and is making a concerted effort to identify and redress areas at risk of misconduct,” Cr Craigie said.

“However, for our training efforts to be fully effective, we will need continued support.”