Policy advice provided by public service employees is not the same as policy advice provided by ministerial advisers. Public service employees provide impartial and objective advice. It is often referred to as ‘frank and fearless advice’. Ministerial advisers on the other hand, provide advice that is explicitly political. Ministerial advisers are not public service employees.

A current list of departments and administrative offices can be found in the Victorian Public Sector Commission publication, The State of the Public Sector in Victoria, and on the Register of Instruments section of the Victorian Public Sector Commission website.

Further information: www.vpsc.vic.gov.au

6.1 Public Entities

Victoria has a long tradition of using public entities as well as departments to perform functions or provide services on behalf of Government. These public entities take a range of legal forms including corporations, statutory authorities and advisory committees. They are at ‘arm’s length’ from Ministers.

Victoria’s public entities include school councils, cemetery trusts, and state owned enterprises, trusts, boards, advisory bodies, management committees and statutory authorities. These undertake functions such as health care, ambulance services, TAFE, land development, and management of water, parks, ports, transport and public facilities. In addition, there are public Crown land reserve committees of management, bringing the total number of Victorian public entities to over 3,000.

Examples of public entities include South East Water, Federation Square, Victorian Ports Corporation, Transport Accident Commission, Royal Botanic Gardens and Ambulance Victoria.

In this guide, the term ‘public entity’ has the same meaning as in the Public Administration Act. Examples of bodies that fall outside of the Act’s definition of a public entity are local government bodies, community health centres and universities. However, those bodies may fall within the jurisdiction of other Victorian legislation and the office holders who carry out functions under that legislation such as the Auditor-General, Ombudsman and the Victorian Information Commissioner.

6.2 Governance

Governance is a method or system of government or management. In relation to public entities, governance is about how a public entity is controlled and managed. Governance includes the relationships between the Minister, portfolio department, public entity board, senior management and stakeholders, and the accountability arrangements that support these relationships. It provides the foundation for public entities to achieve high performance, while remaining accountable, preserving public trust and responding effectively to the changing demands placed upon them.

The governance framework for Victorian public entities is established by a combination of the public entity’s enabling legislation and the umbrella requirements set out in the Public Administration Act and other legislation such as the Financial Management Act.

Public entity governance is a key part of the Victorian public sector accountability framework. Ministers are accountable to the Parliament and community, and public entity boards are accountable to their Minister. In this framework, accountability is further strengthened by agencies such as the Auditor-General and Ombudsman.

The Victorian Public Sector Commission has produced a range of reference material for potential, new and existing directors. This includes the Code of Conduct for Directors of Victorian Public Entities and Welcome to the Board.