How government works


Government and politics are important because they affect our everyday lives every day, but it can be confusing if you're not sure how it all works.

There are three levels of government in Australia:

  • The Federal Government represents the whole of Australia at a national level
  • The State Government represents us in Victoria
  • Local Government represents us in the area in which we live and work

Victorian Government Departments and Other Agencies

Here's a list of all the Government Departments in Victoria. All links listed below link to external websites and open in a new window:


Other Agencies

Getting Involved in Government

If you're interested in getting more involved in government or poliitics, whether you want to run for parliament or just have your say on an issue that's important to you, check out our Do-it-yourself Democracy pages.

How the Three Levels of Government Relate to Each Other

In practice, the State/Territory and Federal Governments cooperate in many areas where States and Territories are formally responsible, like education, transport, health and law enforcement.

Taxes, Duties and Levies

Your income tax is paid to the Federal Government, and then the Federal Government directs a proportion of that money to the various State and Territory governments. Debate between State and Federal governments about how much Federal funds are allocated, and who to, is a constant feature of Australian politics.

The Victorian State Government also collects some revenue directly from a range of sources, including taxes, levies and duties. For details of these revenue sources, check out the Victorian State Revenue Office (new window).

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG)

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) (new window) is a forum to initiate, develop and implement national policy reforms that require cooperative action between the three levels of government (National, State/Territory and Local.

COAG is made up of:

  • The Prime Minister
  • State Premiers
  • The Chief Ministers of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory
  • The president of the Australian Local Government Association

In addition, Ministerial Councils made up of National, State and Territory Ministers and (where relevant representatives of Local Government (and sometimes even the governments of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea) meet regularly to develop and implement inter-governmental policies in specific policy areas (e.g., defence, trade, arts, &c).

State Parliaments are subject to the National Constitution as well as their State Constitutions. If a State law is not consistent with a similar Federal law, the Federal law overrides that State law.


Parliament of Victoria
All about how Victoria's Parliament works. 

Parliamentary Education Office
Parliamentary education services for schools, teachers and students.

Australian Local Government Association
Information about the Local Government system in Australia and its roles and responsibilities.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
General information about Australia's system of government.

Parliament of Australia
Information on the Australian Federal parliamentary system.