Why is governance important?
Good governance enables a public entity to:
- Conform (fulfil its legal duties);
- Perform (deliver expected public goods/services) in a responsible, transparent and accountable manner;
- Preserve the trust of the portfolio department, responsible minister/s, parliament and the Victorian public;
- Build a positive reputation; and
- Support a culture of continual improvement.
What is governance?
Public entity governance:
- Is how a public entity is directed, controlled, managed and held to account;
- Is about the relationships between an entity’s minister, department, board, senior management and stakeholders; and
- Includes legislation, obligations, duties, policies, principles, strategies, planning, procedures, resources, monitoring, evaluation and reporting.
Governance of the Victorian Catchment Management Council and the Catchment Management Authorities
VCMC and CMA governance framework
Typical elements of the governance framework for the VCMC and the CMAs are outlined below.
The foundation of the governance framework is the ‘legislation’ that applies to the VCMC and the CMAs (see below for examples of the key legislation). The next layer of the framework is ‘government policies’ (both strategic and operational). The third layer is ‘ministerial directions’ that may be issued to the VCMC and the CMAs (eg. guidelines, CMA statements of obligations). The final layer of the governance framework, ‘governance within the VCMC and CMAs’, is subject to, and driven by the legislation, government policies and ministerial directions.
Key legislation in the governance framework for the VCMC and the CMAs includes:
- The Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 establishes the VCMC and the CMAs. It prescribes specific governance obligations about membership, committees, meeting proceedings, allowances and annual reports. For CMAs, it also specifies requirements for corporate plans, pecuniary interests and the employment of executives and staff;
- The Public Administration Act 2004 provides a framework for good governance of the Victorian public sector. It includes governance principles, duties, codes, values, accountabilities and a requirement that procedures must be in place for assessing performance;
- The Financial Management Act 1994 improves financial administration, reporting and accountability of the public sector;
- The Ombudsman Act 1973 establishes the Ombudsman to investigate complaints;
- The Constitution Act 1975 establishes the Auditor-General for Victoria. Under the Audit Act 1994 the Auditor-General conducts and reports on financial and performance audits; and
- The Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission Act 2011 establishes the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission to identify, expose and prevent corruption.
You can find out more about legislation on the Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents website
CMA annual governance cycle
The annual cycle of implementation and continual improvement of governance applicable to CMAs is outlined below:
In the first of five steps of the cycle, CMAs ‘analyse’ the legislation, government policies and the ministerial directions of the governance framework and ‘plan’ their proposed services and projects to deliver government objectives. Secondly, government ‘allocates resources’ to services and projects that it approves to meet its objectives. CMAs then ‘implement’ their approved services and projects. The performance of implementation is then ‘measured, monitored and evaluated’ to determine if objectives have been met. In the last step of the cycle, CMAs ‘report the performance’ of their services and projects (or the outputs and outcomes against objectives) to government.
VCMC and CMA key governance accountability and relationships
Key governance relationships that hold the VCMC and CMAs to account are outlined below:
The first step of these relationships involves the VCMC Executive Officer (and VCMC staff) and the CMA chief executive officer (and CMA staff) being accountable to the VCMC and to the CMA board, respectively. The Chair of the VCMC and of the CMA board lead the relationships with the responsible minister/s and also with the Secretary (and the relevant executives) of the portfolio department. The portfolio department is also accountable to the responsible minister/s. In the final step of the governance relationships, the responsible minister/s is accountable to parliament.
What is the department’s role in the governance of the VCMC and CMAs?
The department plays a key role in good governance of the VCMC and the CMAs. It supports the Secretary of the department and the minister/s by advising them about the governance and performance of the VCMC and the CMAs.
An action in Water for Victoria is to: ‘drive strong governance and performance’. The department delivers this by implementing processes that maintain a focus on recommending to the minister/s the appointment of ‘skills-based’ and ‘gender diverse’ boards.
The department also fosters a sound relationship with the VCMC and CMAs and supports them by providing:
- Information, advice and model policies on duties and obligations;
- Guidelines for good governance; and
- Induction and training to develop governance skills and capacity.
Appointments to the VCMC and CMA boards
For appointments visit Board vacancies
Detailed descriptions of the governance of the VCMC and of the CMAs are outlined below:
The VCMC advises the minister/s on catchment management and the condition of land and water resources across Victoria. It consists of a Chair and up to nine other members appointed for up to three years. A further description of the VCMC’s roles under the Catchment and Land Protection Act can be found here.
The VCMC produces an annual report on the previous financial year about its operations and functions. Every five years, the VCMC also produces a report of its assessment of the condition and management of land and water resources in Victoria, which is known as the VCMC’s Catchment Condition and Management Report. These reports are available on the VCMC’s website.
More information on the VCMC
Under the Catchment and Land Protection Act, the roles of the CMAs include to:
Read more about CMA roles under the Catchment and Land Protection Act.
Under the Water Act 1989, CMAs (except for Melbourne Water and Westernport CMA) are also responsible for regional waterway, floodplain, drainage and environmental water reserve management.
Read more about CMA roles under the Water Act.
CMAs are governed by a board that consists of a chair and five to eight other members appointed for up to four years. The board is responsible for the:
- Strategic planning and policies of the CMA; and
- Oversight of the management of the CMA, including the performance of the functions and the carrying out of the duties of the CMA.
The board should not participate in day-to-day management, but delegates this to their chief executive officer.
Statements of obligations
Under the Catchment and Land Protection Act the responsible minister/s may issue a statement of obligations to CMAs to specify standards of performance for their catchment management functions and requirements for community consultation.
Under the Water Act the responsible minister may issue a statement of obligations to CMAs to specify standards of performance for their regional waterway, floodplain, drainage and environmental water reserve management functions and requirements for community consultation. Nine of the 9 CMAs, not including Westernport CMA, have functions under this Act.
Statements of obligations have been issued to CMAs under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 and the Water Act 1989:
- CaLP Act Statement of Obligations 2018 (PDF, 546.0 KB)
- Water Act Statement of Obligations 2018 (PDF, 680.3 KB)
Each CMA produces an annual corporate plan for forthcoming financial years. These plans include a business plan, financial statements and an investment summary of priority projects to deliver their natural resource management functions. These plans are available on CMA websites.
Each CMA produces an annual report for the prior financial year on the condition and management of land and water resources in its region, its functions and operations, and audited financial statements. These reports are available on CMA websites.
More information on CMAs
For additional governance information and resources including model policies and guidance notes visit our Onboard website
The names of the chairs and members of the VCMC and the CMA boards are available at the Victorian Government’s Public Board Appointments Victoria website
Legislation is available at the Victorian Law Today Library website
The Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) helps strengthen public sector efficiency, effectiveness and capability. For a range of governance resources visit the VPSC’s website
Page last updated: 13/01/22