Your voice, your city: How and why to register for Melbourne’s upcoming council elections

Your voice, your city: How and why to register for Melbourne’s upcoming council elections

This October the City of Melbourne will host its council elections by postal vote, presenting a vital opportunity for all residents, businesses, and ratepayers to shape the future of our vibrant city.

This includes those often unaware of their voting rights, like international students and new residents, who are also entitled to shape our community’s future. So, whether you stroll down the bustling streets of the CBD daily or own property within our boundaries, your participation is crucial.

Voting is not just a right; it’s a civic duty that impacts every aspect of local governance from public safety to environmental policies.

In Melbourne’s council elections, there are two main categories of voters: state-enrolled and council-enrolled. Let’s break down what this means for you …

State-enrolled voters are typically Australian citizens, aged 18 years or older, who have lived in the City of Melbourne for more than a month. If this describes you, you’re likely to be already familiar with voting in federal and state elections.

For the local council elections, you’ll automatically receive a ballot pack at your registered address when voting time approaches. If you are a director or company secretary of a company that owns or pays rates on a property in the City of Melbourne, you’ll also be automatically enrolled.

Ensure your details are current by visiting the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC).

Council-enrolled voters include a broader group, particularly relevant to those not automatically enrolled. This category welcomes non-resident landlords, businesses, corporations, and importantly, individuals like international students or temporary residents who might not realise they can have a voice in local matters.

If you have a registered business or own property in the City of Melbourne, or have a lease longer than three months, you are eligible. Enrolment for council voters isn’t automatic, so you’ll need to register

But why is voting crucial?

First, voting in council elections allows you to influence decisions that affect everyday services such as waste management, libraries, public spaces, and planning permissions. These decisions shape the urban environment and quality of life in Melbourne. By voting, you ensure that your views on these issues are represented in council policies.

Second, it’s about accountability and representation. Council elections are a direct line to holding your elected officials accountable. We are your representatives, tasked with voicing your concerns and advocating for your needs at the council level. Voting gives you the power to choose candidates who align with your vision for the community and to replace those who do not.


Finally, it’s about strengthening democracy. Every vote contributes to the robustness of our democratic processes. By participating, you help ensure that the council accurately reflects the diverse composition of Melbourne’s population, including voices that are often underrepresented. Every vote counts.


For international students and overseas voters, participating in local elections might seem daunting or perhaps less relevant, but your experiences and perspectives are invaluable. Voting in local elections allows you to engage with issues that directly affect your daily life in Melbourne, from public transport to local educational resources. It’s also a chance to learn about Australian civic processes and contribute to the community you’re living in, even if temporarily.

So, if you haven’t registeread yet or need to update your details, now is the time. For those needing to enrol on the council roll, keep an eye on the City of Melbourne website for the upcoming link to the online form. Your vote is your voice in our democracy, and every voice matters.

As we approach the elections this October, I encourage every eligible member of our community, especially those who haven’t participated before, to register and vote. It’s a significant opportunity to make your mark on Melbourne’s future. •


Jamal Hakim is a councillor at the City of Melbourne

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