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Local government sustainability framework


Local governments play a critical role in creating the best, most liveable communities—helping make Queensland a great place to live, work and play.

Queensland has one of the most diverse local government sectors in Australia, covering a large geographic area and comprising many regions, cultures, social factors, and economic drivers.

We are committed to supporting local governments all around Queensland to ensure you have the tools you need to make our communities great places to live, tailored to unique regional needs—now and into the future.

A fit-for-purpose sustainability framework

Sustainability is more than a council’s financial position; it’s about how you operate, the environment you operate in and the needs of your community.

The implementation of the new framework and the new financial guidelines will provide councils with greater insights into their challenges. Our vision is to have business-ready councils—today and into the future—that enable liveable communities to grow and prosper. The framework will help with early identification of challenges and will result in the development of tailored and relevant solutions.

The diversity of the sector means that no single solution or approach will address the sustainability challenges faced by many local governments. To better reflect this complexity, we developed a new Sustainability Framework to recognise the varied factors that influence the success of councils over time.

The new framework:

  • supports councils to deliver liveable communities where Queenslanders want to live, work and play.
  • monitors council’s performance and sustainability
  • supports better long-term planning
  • provides a more informed basis for council decision-making, and
  • supports improved outcomes for local communities.

Holistic, tailored and relevant to councils

The framework is:

  • holistic – acknowledges that sustainability is influenced and affected by more than just financial elements
  • tailored – councils are grouped to recognise their structural differences
  • relevant – the financial and asset sustainability ratio benchmarks will provide councils with more relevant and council-specific information.

When councils use the framework, we can provide targeted support to improve performance and sustainability with tailored and relevant solutions. A more holistic approach to considering the sustainability of councils will help ensure Queensland’s growth happens in the right way—to enhance our already great communities and support our incredible lifestyles.

What does sustainability mean for councils?

Local government sustainability is influenced by various financial and non-financial factors. We are focusing on five:

1. Operating Environment - Impact of the external environment on councils and their capacity to respond effectively.

2. Finances - Performance of councils in managing their finances over the long term.

3. Assets - Performance of councils in managing assets over the long term.

4. Governance - Performance of councils in understanding and managing risks and embedding effective governance practices.

5. Compliance - Performance of councils in meeting legislative requirements.

How to use the Sustainability Framework

The framework underpins existing legislative requirements. Over time, this framework will be embedded into the department’s operations, driving a more considered and holistic view of the sector and its needs. The framework will continue to evolve based on feedback from councils.

The framework forms the basis on how we will engage with councils to support sustainability. In the framework there are examples of how the department can support councils, including with the government levers listed below. Your Local Government Regional Advisors  can tell you more.

Support from government levers

To facilitate sustainable, capable and accountable local governments that enable thriving local communities, the department has various levers to influence the broader local government regulatory environment, and support council elected officials and officers directly:

1. Policy – developing sensible regulation to support councils and meet community expectations.

2. Monitoring – providing strategic oversight and understanding council’s long- and short-term challenges and opportunities.

3. Funding – supporting council operation and infrastructure needs, directing funding where it is needed most.

4. Capability – Supporting council officers and elected officials to fulfil their responsibilities by enhancing council capacity to deliver for their communities.

5. Performance Response – accountability, integrity and good governance.

6. Advocacy – representing local governments in dealings with the Queensland and Australian Governments.

Key documents

Last updated: 22 May 2024