Following an independent base review, the Victorian Inspectorate (VI) has secured a sufficient increase in its ongoing budget to allow a longer term outlook and grow to around 30 FTE by 2026. This is the culmination of four years of hard work aimed at securing appropriate base funding for the VI’s extremely broad remit, which grew to 13 agencies in 2021-22 due to oversight of the new Office of the Special Investigator (OSI).
Until now the VI has not been able to fulfil the promise of its legislation. For the financial years ending 2019, 2020 and 2021, the VI’s workforce was 14, 16 and 20 FTE at year end. Exchanging fixed term for ongoing funding will allow the VI to build ongoing staff capability and focus on driving systemic improvements across the integrity system. However this funding stops short of delivering what the VI needs, and funding boosts to the agencies we oversight are likely to further increase demand on our resources.
The base review recognised that the VI has the same corporate compliance obligations as large Victorian government entities, and its findings support the VI’s purchase of corporate support from a department. Despite our status as a budget independent agency, in 2022-23 the VI will commence a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Justice and Community Safety (DJCS).
Resources will also be impacted by the performance audit of the VI, scheduled to be completed by August 2022. The Integrity and Oversight Committee of the Parliament (IOC) appointed an independent performance auditor in accordance with s 90D of the Victorian Inspectorate Act 2011. We welcome this oversight and will carefully consider any recommendations within our footprint.
The VI’s new three year Strategic Plan will deliver a Service Charter in 2022 for the VI’s complaints function. To support delivery of the Service Charter, the VI will develop and implement a new complaints framework to address the impact of two years of COVID restrictions on the VI’s under-resourced operations, combined with the impact of the base review, the performance audit and an increase in complaints volume and complexity in 2021-22. The VI’s ongoing resources now make this possible.
The VI has almost concluded its 4-year infrastructure upgrade program. The ICT strategy and roadmap will be delivered early in the year, aimed at leading the VI to more integrated and flexible ICT systems. This will not come at the cost of information security.
As our corporate program reverts closer to business as usual, the VI will continue to invest time in retaining a strong and positive workplace culture in alignment with our values. Such a culture is an important component of delivering strong integrity outcomes.
As we enter this financial year with a stronger fiscal outlook, new infrastructure, a positive culture and a growing and capable staffing cohort, the VI looks forward to a year of continued improvements both internally and across Victoria’s integrity system.