Work out who does what


So, you've got an issue that you are really passionate about, and you really want to get into the ear of someone who could make a difference, but who? 

Sometimes working out who the person responsible is can be time consuming and disheartening, particularly if time after time you end up talking to someone who then says, "Oh I hear what you're saying, but who you REALLY need to talk to this person..."

A good start to finding the right person is working out if your issue is the responsibility of local, state and/ or federal government. The Australian Constitution (Section 51 for those of you who just so happen to have a copy handy) sets out the responsibilities for each level of government. 

Quite often all three levels of government will have a role to play around a particular issue.  For instance:

  • Roads: National highways such as the Hume between Melbourne and Sydney are managed by the Federal Government, while all other major state roads such as the Princes Hwy between Melbourne, Geelong and Hamilton are managed by the Victorian State Government.  Local governments look after things such as the street signs.
  • Education: Find your Federal Government representative if you have something to say about universities. You'll need to talk to your state government's Minister for Education to find about public primary and secondary schools. If it's kindergartens and pre-schools you're interested in, that's local government's responsibility.
  • Environment: Head to the federal government if you are wanting to take action around large level pollution and carbon emission schemes, the state government if you are worried about the marine life in Port Phillip bay and local government if you believe the litter in the streets is getting out of control.

In other cases there are clear areas of responsibility such as:

  • The state governments are responsible for public transport, power, policing and planning for future developments and infrastructure in the state. 
  • The federal government is responsible for defence, trade, immigration, foreign affairs, marriage and benefits (including austudy, newstart and youth allowance).
  • Local government isn't mentioned in the Australian constitution, but they are key decision-makers in many things that affect you close to home. They are often major service providers of aged care, child care and youth services. They can be responsible for the development, upkeep and maintenance of local recreational facilities such as your swimming pool, local tennis courts and skate park and they organise community festivals, street parties, local art exhibitions and are proud to present you with your local library.


Passport to Democracy - Who decides?
Play this puzzle to find out which level of government is responsible for the things in your community.

Municipal Association of Victoria
Find out more about what local government does and how you can get in touch with your local council.

Constitution of Australia
For those constitution enthusiasts out there here it is - in DETAIL!