The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) is an independent and impartial statutory authority responsible for the conduct of Victorian Parliamentary elections, local council elections and other statutory, commercial and community elections. The VEC is also responsible for the maintenance of the Victorian register of electors, the promotion of public awareness on electoral matters, the conduct and promotion of electoral research, and the conduct of local government boundary reviews. Given that the VEC is responsible for the management of the electoral process through which Government is elected, it is important that it maintains a high level of public trust and confidence in its independence and impartiality. The VEC must ensure that all staff and contractors are politically neutral in the manner that they carry out their duties, so that there is a clear perception of their neutrality within the community.
Equal opportunity laws exist to promote equal opportunity and eliminate discrimination in Victoria. In relation to the workplace, these laws ensure that in seeking employment, applicants are not discriminated against on the basis of the following attributes: age; gender identity; breastfeeding; impairment; industrial activity; employment activity; lawful sexual activity; marital status; parental status or status as a carer; physical features; political belief and activity, pregnancy; race; religious belief or activity; sex; and sexual orientation.
Section 17A of the Electoral Act 2002 provides that (in accordance with section 75 of the Equal Opportunity Act 2010) the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) may discriminate against a person in relation to offering employment (or appointment as a member of the Audit Committee of the Commission) on the basis of that person's political belief or activity.
It is essential that all VEC employees, members of its Audit Committee, contractors and election officials are, and are seen to be, truly independent and impartial in the conduct of their official duties. The appointment of a person to any position within the VEC whose current or previous actions could give rise to a perception of political bias potentially compromises the perceived independence of the VEC. This does not imply that the VEC believes that a person would not be capable of impartial conduct - it is more the case of how this may be perceived by a candidate for election, political party or members of the public. Section 17A of the Electoral Act 2002 enables the VEC to ask applicants for disclosure of specific political activities. Disclosure of this information does not necessarily mean that an applicant for employment will not be employed. Disclosure will however, give the VEC the opportunity to consider whether it would be suitable for the applicant to work in certain areas or on certain elections. For example, a person who had been involved in lobbying their local council on a particular issue may be excluded from working on projects related to that particular council.
The VEC issued guidelines in the Victorian Government Gazette published on 10 November 2011 which set out the criteria to be applied in relation to refusing employment or appointment to roles at the VEC. These guidelines are as follows:
If you are the preferred applicant for a role at the VEC, you will be asked to make any relevant disclosures. Specifically, the VEC would like to know if you:
It is best to disclose anything that could possibly be relevant for the VEC's consideration and let the VEC make that consideration. It may not be relevant to the area or role for which you are being employed.
A number of factors are considered as part of the assessment:
Please call the key contact person nominated in the VEC employment advertisement and ask for advice.
Do you disagree with the VEC's assessment of your disclosure?
If you have disclosed information which the VEC considered capable of compromising its independence and you have been denied a role as a result, you may request to have the decision reviewed by lodging a written request to:
Where the decision was made by the Commissioner, the matter will be referred to a member of the VEC's Audit Committee for review.
Any complaints in relation to the VEC's adherence to its stated processes in dealing with disclosures should be directed in writing to:
For further information please contact