What constitutes a ‘dispute’?

A difference of opinion between board members about a proposed decision is not a 'dispute'. It is the normal difference of views which the board talks through together before voting to make a decision. 

Occasionally, however, the effective functioning of a board is disrupted by a dispute between members, usually based on personality conflicts or ideological differences. This is against the public interest and must be resolved as soon as possible.

Model policies

  • It is basic good governance for all DELWP agencies to have a Dispute Resolution policy in place for board members.
  • Your board's policy should be consistent with the DELWP model policy.

Standard for major agencies

Disputes - Model policy (PDF, 95.9 KB)
Disputes - Model policy (DOCX, 107.4 KB)

Small committees of management

See the committees of management support module for small (category 3) committees of management of crown land reserves.

Guidance notes

An overview – Dispute resolution (major agencies)

  • Easy-to-read overview of a board member’s obligations and good practice
  • Include in induction kits for board members of major agencies.

Disputes - an overview - all major (PDF, 85.7 KB)
Disputes - an overview - all major (DOCX, 106.3 KB)

An overview – Dispute resolution (small committees of management)

See the committees of management support module for small (category 3) committees of management of crown land reserves.

About the model policy (major agencies)

Disputes - About the model policy (PDF, 80.9 KB)
Disputes - About the model policy (DOCX, 92.9 KB)

Governance links

Related support modules

On Board has related support modules for board members of DELWP agencies, including:

  • Code of conduct 
  • Meetings and decisions 

Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria

The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria is a free and confidential dispute resolution service funded by the Victorian Government.

DELWP's model policy has a clause for agencies wishing to appoint the Centre as the formal mediator. Phone 1800 658 528 or see a list of the Victorian offices.

Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC)

As part of its role in promoting good governance in the public sector, the VPSC publishes the Directors’ Code of Conduct (which applies to board members).

Watchdog agencies

As part of their watchdog role, the Victorian Ombudsman, the Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO), and the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) also promote a high standard of public sector governance.

For example, some reports published by the Ombudsman and VAGO investigate where a board has become dysfunctional due to ongoing disputes between board members.

For further information see the Integrity complaints support module.

What laws and other governance obligations apply?

Governance obligations in relation to dispute resolution include:

  • section 81(1)(d)(iii) of the Public Administration Act (PAA)
  • the duties of directors (board members) in section 79 of the PAA
  • Directors’ Code of Conduct, which reinforces the public sector values in section 7 of the PAA
  • any specific requirements in the agency's establishing Act.