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Local government

Local government

Local government areas

The state of Victoria is divided up into 79 local government areas which are referred to as councils or municipalities. They are classified as being either a city, rural city, shire or borough.

There are some small parts of Victoria which lie outside the boundaries of those 79 council areas and therefore have no local government. They are referred to as unincorporated areas and include French Island in Western Port, a number of other off-shore islands, and the snow resorts of Falls Creek, Lake Mountain, Mount Baw Baw, Mount Buller, Mount Hotham and Mount Stirling.

What local government does

The powers and responsibilities that local governments have are determined by the state government of Victoria.

Typically, councils maintain designated community infrastructure including things like local roads, drains, public buildings, recreation facilities and parks. They take responsibility for planning and land use within the community, waste collection and recycling services. Health, wellbeing, counselling and youth programs are conducted. Councils also create local laws which help to protect public health, safety or amenity, ensuring that actions by individuals or groups do not negatively impact on the rest of the community.

Local government is primarily funded by property taxes (council rates) and government grants. Additional revenue sources include the collection of fees for use of certain community facilities and fees associated with obtaining permits and licences.

Structure of councils

Councillors are democratically elected by residents and ratepayers of a local government area. They define policies and make decisions that are in the best interests of the community they represent.

Councillors appoint a chief executive officer (CEO) who heads a team of staff which are responsible for implementing council decisions and delivering services to the community. Council staff also provide advice and expertise to the elected councillors.

The mayor is a member of the council that acts as a ceremonial figurehead and provides leadership for both the council and community. In all but two of Victoria's councils, a mayor is elected by councillors who vote amongst themselves for the position. In the City of Melbourne and City of Greater Geelong, residents and ratepayers directly elect a lord mayor when voting, in addition to electing councillors.

Council elections

Council elections are currently held for every municipality in Victoria every four years, on the fourth Saturday in October. The last council elections were held on Saturday 27th November 2012. The next council elections are expected to be held on Saturday 22nd October 2016.

Voting is compulsory for residents aged between 18 and 69. Voting is optional for residents aged 70 years and over. Ratepayers who don't live within the municipality their property is situated within are entitled to cast a vote in the election for that municipality, however it is not compulsory unless their property is within the City of Melbourne.

Depending on the municipality, voting may be conducted by attendance voting at nominated venues or by post whereby ballot papers are sent out and then returned back in the mail when completed.

Municipalities within Greater Melbourne

31 municipalities cover Melbourne's metropolitan area. The largest of those in terms of land coverage is the Yarra Ranges Shire, while the City of Casey is home to the most people.

Map of Municipalities within Greater Melbourne
Map above is not clickable. See numbered list of municipalities below.

No. Municipality Population Size Headquarters
1 City of Banyule 118,000 63 km² Ivanhoe
2 City of Bayside 92,000 37 km² Sandringham
3 City of Boroondara 159,000 60 km² Camberwell
4 City of Brimbank 183,000 123 km² Sunshine
5 Cardinia Shire 74,000 1,280 km² Pakenham
6 City of Casey 252,000 400 km² Narre Warren
7 City of Greater Dandenong 136,000 130 km² Dandenong
8 City of Darebin 136,000 53 km² Preston
9 City of Frankston 126,000 131 km² Frankston
10 City of Glen Eira 131,000 39 km² Caulfield South
11 City of Hobsons Bay 84,000 66 km² Altona
12 City of Hume 168,000 504 km² Broadmeadows
13 City of Kingston 142,000 91 km² Cheltenham
14 City of Knox 149,000 114 km² Wantirna South
15 City of Manningham 111,000 113 km² Doncaster
16 City of Maribyrnong 72,000 31 km² Footscray
17 City of Maroondah 104,000 61 km² Ringwood
18 City of Melbourne 94,000 38 km² Melbourne
19 City of Melton 109,000 527 km² Melton
20 City of Monash 169,000 82 km² Glen Waverley
21 City of Moonee Valley 107,000 44 km² Moonee Ponds
22 City of Moreland 147,000 51 km² Coburg
23 Mornington Peninsula Shire 145,000 723 km² Rosebud
24 Nillumbik Shire 60,000 432 km² Greensborough
25 City of Port Phillip 91,000 21 km² St Kilda
26 City of Stonnington 93,000 26 km² Malvern
27 City of Whitehorse 151,000 64 km² Nunawading
28 City of Whittlesea 155,000 490 km² South Morang
29 City of Wyndham 162,000 542 km² Werribee
30 City of Yarra 74,000 20 km² Richmond
31 Yarra Ranges Shire 145,000 2,470 km² Lilydale

  • Population data is taken from the 2011 ABS Census and rounded to the nearest thousand.
  • Some councils also extend outside of Melbourne's metropolitan area.
  • Some councils have additional offices and customer service centres located within the municipality.

Municipalities in regional Victoria

48 municipalities cover land within Victoria that lies outside of Melbourne's metropolitan area. The largest of those in terms of land coverage is the Rural City of Mildura, while the City of Greater Geelong is home to the most people.

Map of Municipalities in regional Victoria
Map above is not clickable. See numbered list of municipalities below.

No. Municipality Population Size Headquarters
1 Alpine Shire 12,000 4,839 km² Bright
2 Rural City of Ararat 11,000 4,207 km² Ararat
3 City of Ballarat 94,000 740 km² Ballarat
4 Bass Coast Shire 30,000 865 km² Wonthaggi
5 Baw Baw Shire 43,000 4,028 km² Warragul
6 Rural City of Benalla 14,000 2,351 km² Benalla
7 City of Greater Bendigo 101,000 2,999 km² Bendigo
8 Buloke Shire 6,400 8,004 km² Wycheproof
9 Campaspe Shire 36,000 4,526 km² Echuca
10 Central Goldfields Shire 12,000 1,534 km² Maryborough
11 Colac Otway Shire 20,000 3,433 km² Colac
12 Corangamite Shire 16,000 4,404 km² Camperdown
13 East Gippsland Shire 42,000 20,931 km² Bairnsdale
14 Gannawarra Shire 10,000 3,732 km² Kerang
15 City of Greater Geelong 211,000 1,247 km² Geelong
16 Glenelg Shire 20,000 6,212 km² Portland
17 Golden Plains Shire 19,000 2,704 km² Bannockburn
18 Hepburn Shire 14,000 1,470 km² Daylesford
19 Hindmarsh Shire 5,800 7,527 km² Nhill
20 Rural City of Horsham 19,000 4,249 km² Horsham
21 Indigo Shire 15,000 2,044 km² Beechworth
22 City of Latrobe 72,000 1,422 km² Morwell
23 Loddon Shire 7,500 6,694 km² Wedderburn
24 Macedon Ranges Shire 42,000 1,747 km² Kyneton
25 Mansfield Shire 7,900 3,892 km² Mansfield
26 Rural City of Mildura 51,000 22,087 km² Mildura
27 Mitchell Shire 35,000 2,862 km² Broadford
28 Moira Shire 28,000 4,057 km² Cobram
29 Moorabool Shire 28,000 2,110 km² Ballan
30 Mount Alexander Shire 18,000 1,529 km² Castlemaine
31 Moyne Shire 16,000 5,478 km² Port Fairy
32 Murrindindi Shire 13,000 3,889 km² Alexandra
33 Northern Grampians Shire 12,000 5,728 km² Stawell
34 Pyrenees Shire 6,700 3,433 km² Beaufort
35 Borough of Queenscliffe 3,000 13 km² Queenscliff
36 City of Greater Shepparton 61,000 2,422 km² Shepparton
37 South Gippsland Shire 27,000 3,280 km² Leongatha
38 Southern Grampians Shire 16,000 6,652 km² Hamilton
39 Strathbogie Shire 9,500 3,302 km² Euroa
40 Surf Coast Shire 26,000 1,560 km² Torquay
41 Rural City of Swan Hill 20,000 6,116 km² Swan Hill
42 Towong Shire 5,900 6,635 km² Tallangatta
43 Rural City of Wangaratta 27,000 3,764 km² Wangaratta
44 City of Warrnambool 32,000 121 km² Warrnambool
45 Wellington Shire 41,000 10,989 km² Sale
46 West Wimmera Shire 4,300 9,116 km² Edenhope
47 City of Wodonga 36,000 433 km² Wodonga
48 Yarriambiack Shire 7,100 7,310 km² Warracknabeal

  • Population data is taken from the 2011 ABS Census and rounded to the nearest thousand for populations above 10,000 and to the nearest hundred for populations under 10,000.
  • Some councils have additional offices and customer service centres located within the municipality.

Further information

For further information about local government in Victoria and how it operates, see the Local Government Victoria web site at