Victorian Government Communication Guidelines 2013 (HTML)

Victorian Government Communication Guidelines 2013



Advertising and communication assist with the effective delivery of government objectives by informing the community about programs, services and legislation, as well as important safety messages, such as those about bushfires or road safety.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet (DPC) has developed these guidelines to ensure that communication is effective, well managed and responsive to the diverse needs of the Victorian community.

The guidelines set out the principles and procedures applying to communication activities undertaken by Victorian Government entities. They explain the framework in place and include summaries of all Victorian Government communication policies and guidelines.Top


All Victorian Government entities, as well as any organisations that procure media services through the Master Agency Media Services (MAMS) contracts, must comply with these guidelines.


Communication activities and messages used to engage and inform the community about Victorian Government programs, services or policies.

The activities involved in presenting a paid, sponsor-identified, message about the Victorian Government and/or its programs, services or policies. Advertising may be in the form of newspapers, radio, television, outdoor, online and other technologies such as mobile devices.

Campaign advertising
Campaign advertising is designed to inform, educate or change behaviour. Campaign advertising requires strategic planning in the area of media and creative services to achieve set objectives. Advertising may be part of a broader communication and marketing plan.

Non-campaign advertising
This includes recruitment and functional advertising information. For example, employment, requests for tender, road closures notices, retail sales, enrolments, statutory/regulatory notices, public health, emergency or safety announcements.

Victorian Government entity
A Victorian Government public service body or public entity, as defined in sections  4 and 5 of the Public Administration Act 2004, or any organisation that procures media services through the Master Agency Media Services (MAMS) contracts.

General principles

Fairness, equity and non-discriminatory
Communication must comply with the highest standards of fairness and equity, must be non-discriminatory, and take particular care to ensure:

  • the highest standard of decency in the portrayal of gender and sexuality
  • sensitivity to cultural needs, recognising that people have a right to access information regardless of their ethnic or religious background
  • requirements for people with a disability
  • access for groups who might otherwise be disadvantaged or excluded by means of location, language or economic factors.

Comply with applicable laws and policies
Communication must comply with applicable legislation relating to financial management, probity, and accountability of government. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • laws in respect to broadcasting and media
  • privacy laws
  • intellectual property laws
  • electoral laws
  • trade practices, consumer protection and workplace relations laws
  • all communication and procurement policies and guidelines

(see Appendix 1 and Appendix 2)

Communication must carry the appropriate Victorian Government branding and include authorisation tags as specified in the Branding Guidelines. Facts, statistics and comparisons must be presented accurately and objectivelyto ensure that information can be substantiated. Communication must be planned to maintain the reputation of Victorian Government entities. The messages and channels used must be appropriate and meet community standards.


Communication should be for a legitimate purpose
Communication by Victorian Government entities:

  • must not promote party-political interests
  • must seek to inform the public of Victorian programs, services and policies

The table below provides examples of appropriate and inappropriate communication

 Appropriate communication  Inappropriate communication

To inform the public of new, existing or proposed Government policies, projects or legislation

Is not clearly distinguishable from party-political messages or uses party-political slogans or images

To ensure public safety, personal security or encourage responsible behaviour

Members of Parliament are named, portrayed or promoted in a manner regarded as excessive or gratuitous

To promote awareness of rights, responsibilities, duties or entitlements

Seeks to influence public support for a political party, a candidate for election or a Member of Parliament

To encourage understanding or use of government products and services Refers to a political party
To report on performance in relation to government undertakings

Includes links to the websites of a political party, a candidate for election or a Member of Parliament

To encourage behavioural change, social cohesion, civic pride, community spirit

Disparages or ridicules individuals or organisations

To encourage public involvement in government decision making


To recruit staff or promote business opportunities within the Victorian Government



Effective, well managed and evaluated
Communication by Victorian Government entities must be timely, accurate, effective, well planned, appropriately managed and delivered within budget.

It must be evaluated to assess its effectiveness and value for money.

Governance and reporting

DPC will monitor compliance with the guidelines and provide leadership and guidance in relation to communication activities across the Victorian Government. DPC will facilitate government approval processes for communication activities and report on government communication expenditure.

Each department is required to submit an annual communication plan, which includes a plan for all entities within its portfolio responsibilities. Annual communication plans must align with government policies and programs and identify opportunities for cost savings.

Ministers, departmental secretaries and entity chief executive officers must seek approval of annual communication plans and relevant campaigns through the government approval process.

Victorian Government entities must evaluate and report on campaigns with a media spend of $150,000 or more in their annual reports. Departmental secretaries and the chief executive officers of government entities must certify compliance with relevant policies, guidelines and legislation.

Further information and exemptions

If you are undertaking communication activity on behalf of the Victorian Government, please contact the departmental Communication Branch
in the first instance.

General exemptions from compliance with Victorian Government communication policies and guidelines will not be granted. All requests for a specific exemption must be made in writing by the relevant departmental Senior Communication Officer on behalf of the department or entity to the Director, Strategic Communication and Protocol Branch at DPC.

Enquiries about these Guidelines should be directed to:

Strategic Communication and Protocol Branch
Department of Premier and Cabinet
Ground Floor, 1 Treasury Place
East Melbourne, VIC 3002



Appendix 1: Victorian Government communication policies and guidelines

Regional Communication Policy
Victorian government entities have an obligation to ensure that regional communities are explicitly considered in government communication.
The annual compliance threshold is mandated at 15 per cent of the relevant body's total annual campaign advertising budget

Multicultural Communication Policy
Victorian government entities are required to commit a minimum of five per cent of the annual campaign advertising budget to multicultural media.

Communication Access Policy
It is the responsibility of government to clearly communicate with Victorian communities, regardless of cultural or linguistic differences, education levels or disability. Therefore, all government communication activities are to be provided and delivered in an accessible manner.

Branding Guidelines
Communication must carry the appropriate Victorian Government branding as specified in the guidelines. The relevant departmental Senior Communication Officer is to approve all branding applications. These guidelines also provide information on the required use of authorisation tags.

Sponsorship Guidelines

Sponsorship is the purchase or receipt of rights or benefits, including naming rights, delivered through association with an organisation's products, services or activities. The rights or benefits typically relate to the sponsor's reputation management or communication objectives.

Departments are required to develop their own agency-specific sponsorship procedures based on, and consistent with, the principles identified in the Victorian Government Sponsorship Policy.

Expenditure on sponsorship is to be transparent, cost-effective and meet a clear set of objectives that can be evaluated.

Website Management and Standards
Departments are required to have a governing Website Management Taskforce to oversee online activities of their body or entity that is responsible for approving the business case for new websites; significant redevelopments and online initiatives; as well as domain, sub-domain and mobile domain names.

For more information visit Digital standards for Victoria.

Guidance for use of Social Media

Guidance for use of Social Media in the Victorian Public Service has been released by the Public Sector Standards Commissioner to emphasise that the use of social media by the Victoria public service needs to follow the same standards of professional practice outlined in the Code of Conduct. Moreover, all social media activities are to be authorised in accordance with individual entity policies, detailed within an appropriate communication strategy, and linked to business objectives.

Community Service Announcement Guidelines

Community Service Announcements are free advertising space available to Victorian Government entities and are typically short advertisements that promote an activity or event deemed to have a broad community benefit.

Community Service Announcements are available only in the same medium as purchased and should have Senior Communication Officer approval prior to submitting to Strategic Communication and Protocol Branch, Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Evaluation Guidelines

It is mandatory for all Victorian Government entities to evaluate all campaigns with a media spend of $150,000 or more. The evaluation process seeks to provide information about the results, effectiveness and value for money of approved advertising and communication campaigns.

Gender Portrayal Guidelines
The Gender Portrayal Guidelines seek to ensure portrayals of women and men are positive, suitable for general viewing, and contribute to the elimination of systemic discrimination based on gender.

Guidelines on the caretaker conventions

The caretaker period spans the time between when the Victorian Parliament is dissolved prior to a general election until the election result is clear or a new government is formed.

Guidelines on the caretaker conventions and the handling of government business during the caretaker period will be issued prior to the next State election.


Appendix 2: Victorian Government communication procurement

Master Agency Media Services: Policy and Contract Guidelines

The Master Agency Media Service (MAMS) contracts are a Victorian Government purchasing arrangement for media strategy, planning,purchasing and ancillary services.

The MAMS contracts have been entered into by the Department of Premier and Cabinet on behalf of the State of Victoria.

Users of the contracts are required to comply with all obligations of the MAMS contracts as well as the relevant government approval processes.

Certain processes are to be followed when developing:

  • campaign advertising
  • functional advertising
  • recruitment advertising
  • emergency advertising
  • community service announcements
  • media sponsorships/partnerships

Marketing Services Panel
The Department of Treasury and Finance manage the Marketing Services Panel. Use of the Marketing Service Panel is mandatory for Victorian Government departments when buying creative and communication services.

Print Management Services Contract
All printed materials are covered by the Print Management Services Contract. This includes all forms, brochures, newsletters, posters, reports as well as speciality items such as promotional material.


Last updated on Monday, 04 December 2017