Advocates have raised concerns that a new Victorian bill could stop local councils from being able to fight for people in their areas, including the LGBTI community.

The Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby (VGLRL) is calling on political parties to protect the right of local councils to advocate in the interests of their local community when reforms to the Local Government Act are debated in parliament.

Under the current Local Government Act, the role of a council includes advocating in the interests of the local community to other communities and governments.

However, the government’s proposed new Local Government Bill has no specific mention of advocating in the interests of the local community.

Dale Park, co-convenor of the VGLRL, said that during the recent debate on marriage equality in Australia, councils across Victoria passed motions to encourage the federal government to support changes to the Marriage Act.

“Issues such as these do matter to the local community, and local councils can respond by advocating on these issues to other governments,” said Park.

“Local governments are in a position, given their closeness to the community, to listen to the community and advocate in the community’s interests to other governments.

“Advocacy on these issues has provided a positive message to LGBTI people in the local community.”

The VGLRL is calling on political parties to ensure that specific reference to advocating in the interests of the local community is inserted in the bill.

They have made a formal submission to the Local Government Act Review asking for the explicit role of councils to advocate for their communities to be retained.

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