Local government is the third tier of government in Australia, responsible for providing a range of local services, including:
- infrastructure and property services
- provision and maintenance of recreational facilities
- health services, including water and food inspection and immunisation services
- community services
- building services, planning and development
- cultural facilities and services.
As a direct provider of local services with significant responsibility for administrative and governance functions that enable delivery, local governments are significant stakeholders within communities (particularly in rural and remote communities) and the broader service delivery environment. Increasingly, local governments are becoming the principal providers of government services to local communities on behalf of state, territory and Commonwealth governments, as a more contextually responsive and localised approach to government service is seen to be the most appropriate model.
There are approximately 565 councils across Australia, the majority of which are regional or rural. The size of local councils is highly diverse; however, the average council population is 28,400. Local governments are funded through taxes (rates), user charges and federal/state government grants. The local government sector employs approximately 192,500 persons in some 400 different occupations. Local governments are often significant employers and require a diverse workforce that encompasses a wide range of occupations.