Acts and Regulations

Councils are guided by a range of laws, regulations and policies to support them to make good decisions that will create positive outcomes for their local communities. Councils must comply with laws and mandatory policies or guidelines. Councils should comply or take into consideration, many other policies and guidelines to conform to best practice when making decisions on behalf of their communities.

Local councils must comply with various Acts and Regulations. The Office of Local Government administers, or shares responsibility for administering, the following:

Guidelines and Policy Information Resources for Councils

The Office of Local Government (OLG) publishes a range of guidelines, codes, practice notes and other guidance for local government. These generally relate to functions that councils carry out under the Local Government Act, or under other legislation or policy for which the Minister for Local Government is responsible. These guidelines and guidance materials aim to support NSW councils to govern in a lawful, prudent, transparent and accountable manner as well as to provide strong and sustainable services to local communities.

Mandatory and Section 23A Guidelines and Codes – OLG publishes some mandatory guidelines and codes, as well as a range of guidelines that councils must take into consideration under section 23A of the Local Government Act 1993 to support councils comply with important laws.

Practice Notes and other best practice guidance – OLG also publishes practice notes and other best practice guidance on a range of topics to support NSW councils to govern well and to carry out their functions in line with best practice approaches.

OLG Circulars to Councils – OLG also provides guidance to councils through Circulars to Councils from time to time on a range of matters.

Guidance for councils from other agencies – Councils should contact relevant agencies for guidance to support councils to undertake functions under the policies and laws that agency is responsible for administering.

Public Inquiries


Guidelines, Codes, and Practice Notes

Child Safe Action Plan

Code of Conduct

Collaboration and partnerships

Council Annual reporting Requirements

Council reporting – Calendar of Compliance

Council Meetings

Councillor expenses and facilities

Intergovernmental Agreement

Land Acquisitions

Local Government Rank to Grade Guide

Northern NSW Renewable Energy Blueprint

Outdoor Dining Approvals – A guide for NSW Councils

Public Private Partnerships

Rating and Special Variations

Standard contracts of employment for General Managers and senior staff

Guidance for councils from other agencies – Councils should contact relevant agencies for guidance to support councils to undertake functions under the policies and laws that agency is responsible for administering.

Local Government Rating Reform

The NSW Government is committed to strengthening the performance and sustainability of local government. To deliver on that commitment, the Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Shelley Hancock MP, introduced a Bill containing a series of sensible reforms developed collaboratively with the local government sector as part of an extensive public consultation process.

That Bill, now the Local Government Amendment Act 2021 was passed by the NSW Parliament on 13 May and assented to on 24 May 2021.  A copy of that law as passed by the Parliament made be viewed here

This law provides for changes that implement the Government’s commitments to rating reform and enables superannuation contribution payments for councillors. It also aligns terms of office of chairpersons for county councils and joint organisations to their member councils and allows greater flexibility in the administration of elections.

There is now greater flexibility for councils formed in 2016 to harmonise rates from 1 July 2021. Each council can choose, in consultation with their communities, to harmonise their rating structures gradually over up to 8 years.

All councils, including those harmonising their rating structures, may also:

  • set separate residential rates for different residential areas
  • set different rates for farmland based on geographic location



Child Safe Action Plan

The Children’s Guardian Act 2019 (the Act) aims to protect children by seeking to embed the Child Safe Standards as the primary framework guiding child safe practice in organisations throughout NSW. The Act requires OLG, as a prescribed agency, to develop and publish a Child Safe Action plan describing how we will work to promote awareness of the Standards across local government and how we will build the capability of local government to implement the Standards to ultimately improve the safety of children in NSW.

As a trusted regulator and capacity builder OLG is responsible for enabling councils to better serve their communities and build their capability to implement the policy and regulatory changes of Government.

OLG will assist councils implement the Standards in several ways, including to:

  • Create and implement the OLG Child Safe Action Plan.
  • Incorporate the Standards into relevant policies and guidelines produced by the OLG.
  • Provide sector leadership and opportunities for engagement to raise awareness of the Standards.
  • Communicate with the sector to increase awareness of child safety responsibilities.
  • Support councils to build their capability to implement the Standards.
  • Promote the availability of resources and tools created by Office of Children’s Guardian and other organisations. These include templates, training, checklists and case studies.


Child Safe Standards Awareness Survey

How aware is your council of the child safe standards adopted by the NSW Government?

The Office of the Children’s Guardian Child Safe Standards provides a framework for creating child safe organisations throughout NSW. As part of these requirements, OLG developed a Child Safe Action Plan to promote awareness of the standards across the local government sector.

Following on from the 2022 Awareness Survey, we are seeking your insights into the current level of preparedness and key challenges being faced in implementing the Child Safe Standards. This will assist OLG in determining priority areas for further support and guidance.

Click here to access the survey. Survey closes 5pm, Friday 22 March 2024.