How government works
Government and politics are important because they affect our everyday lives every day, but it can be confusing if you're not sure how it all works.
There are three levels of government in Australia:
- The Federal Government represents the whole of Australia at a national level
- The State Government represents us in Victoria
- Local Government represents us in the area in which we live and work
Victorian Government Departments and Other Agencies
Here's a list of all the Government Departments in Victoria. All links listed below link to external websites and open in a new window:
- Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources - Creating the conditions to sustainably develop the Victorian economy and grow employment
- Department of Education and Training - Providing learning and development support, services and resources for all Victorians from birth through to adulthood
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning - Creating liveable, inclusive and sustainable communities in Victoria
- Department of Health and Human Services - Developing and delivering policies, programs and services that support and enhance the wellbeing of all Victorians
- Department of Justice & Regulation - Supporting a safe, just, innovative and thriving Victoria.
- Department of Premier and Cabinet - Includes the portfolios of Multiculturalism, Arts and Women & Equality
- Department of Treasury and Finance - Providing economic, financial and resource management advice to help the Victorian Government deliver its policies
- Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission - Identifying and preventing corruption and police misconduct across the public sector
- Office of the Freedom of Information Commissioner - Handling requests and complaints relating to information maintained and collected by the Victorian Government
- Victorian Auditor-General's Office - Examining the management of resources within the Victorian Government
- Victorian Ombudsman - Handling complaints about Victorian state and local government departments and agencies
Getting Involved in Government
If you're interested in getting more involved in government or poliitics, whether you want to run for parliament or just have your say on an issue that's important to you, check out our Do-it-yourself Democracy pages.
How the Three Levels of Government Relate to Each Other
In practice, the State/Territory and Federal Governments cooperate in many areas where States and Territories are formally responsible, like education, transport, health and law enforcement.
Taxes, Duties and Levies
Your income tax is paid to the Federal Government, and then the Federal Government directs a proportion of that money to the various State and Territory governments. Debate between State and Federal governments about how much Federal funds are allocated, and who to, is a constant feature of Australian politics.
The Victorian State Government also collects some revenue directly from a range of sources, including taxes, levies and duties. For details of these revenue sources, check out the Victorian State Revenue Office (new window).
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG)
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) (new window) is a forum to initiate, develop and implement national policy reforms that require cooperative action between the three levels of government (National, State/Territory and Local.
COAG is made up of:
- The Prime Minister
- State Premiers
- The Chief Ministers of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory
- The president of the Australian Local Government Association
In addition, Ministerial Councils made up of National, State and Territory Ministers and (where relevant representatives of Local Government (and sometimes even the governments of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea) meet regularly to develop and implement inter-governmental policies in specific policy areas (e.g., defence, trade, arts, &c).
State Parliaments are subject to the National Constitution as well as their State Constitutions. If a State law is not consistent with a similar Federal law, the Federal law overrides that State law.
Parliament of Victoria
All about how Victoria's Parliament works.
Parliamentary Education Office
Parliamentary education services for schools, teachers and students.
Australian Local Government Association
Information about the Local Government system in Australia and its roles and responsibilities.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
General information about Australia's system of government.
Parliament of Australia
Information on the Australian Federal parliamentary system.