The Victorian Government provided $1.4 million over two years in the 2021-22 Victorian Budget for a Rural Roads Support Package to improve the road asset management capacity and capability of the 11 rural councils having responsibility for the longest lengths of local roads on a per capita basis.

Victoria's councils are responsible for maintaining 132,500 kilometres of local roads, with more than 65 per cent of that length being the responsibility of rural councils. Small shires generally carry a greater financial burden in road infrastructure than other councils as a result of their relatively larger geographical area, small populations and lower rating capacity.

A three-phase program has been developed with Ararat Rural City Council and Buloke, Gannawarra, Hindmarsh, Loddon, Northern Grampians, Pyrenees, Strathbogie, Towong, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack Shire Councils to improve the use of data, data collection, and interoperability of local council systems. The key challenges to road asset management that councils highlighted are capacity and practice issues relating to the use of data, data collection technologies, staff expertise and interoperability of local council systems. Data collection and analysis capability, in particular, were highlighted as fundamental to improving asset management practice and decision making.

The three program phases are:

  • Phase One – The development a common road data set to meet the road asset management requirements with the support of consultants engaged by Local Government Victoria.
  • Phase Two – A program to understand councils’ existing data collection, management and analysis systems and practices and how any challenges to collecting, managing and analysing the common data set can be addressed.
  • Phase Three – A data collection and analysis capacity building program that provides funding support to the 11 councils to address the challenges identified in Phase Two.

The program design takes into account the diversity of road asset management maturity and decision-making sophistication amongst the councils.

The councils are currently working with KPMG and Local Government Victoria to develop a common road data set that enables councils to provide the information needed to plan, manage and renew their road network, and access State and Commonwealth road funding.

In May 2022, The Hon Shaun Leane MP, Minister for Local Government launched the third phase, comprising two funding rounds. In the first funding round, each council will be provided with $17,000 (GST inclusive) in June 2022 to address these gaps. In the second funding round, eligible councils can apply in August 2022 for further funding support individually or jointly with other eligible councils from a total funding pool of $275,000.

In June 2022, The Hon Shaun Leane MP, Minister for Local Government, launched a $621,500 funding support program. In this third phase, each of the 11 councils will receive a total of $56,500 over two funding rounds.

For more information, contact Chris Phoon, Manager Rural Roads Projects at lgv@ecodev.vic.gov.au.