Before you begin
What is ministerial content?
Ministerial content is content that is attributed to a minister. It’s distinct from an agency or departmental content. Ministerial content may be of a more political nature than agency content, which in line with public sector values, must be apolitical.
Why manage ministerial content?
The Victorian Public Service’s role is to provide high-quality, professional support to the government and its ministers – free of political influence or bias. As such, your task is to distinguish between:
- digital content related to the minister's electorate or political activities and
- 'Victorian Government’ content, which will be of use to the public.
What does the Victorian Government recommend?
All agency staff should understand what ministerial content is acceptable and what content to avoid. You can publish ministerial messages on your agency’s website as long as the content serves the public interest and is apolitical.
What standards must be met?
Part 5A, and section 97B, should be considered when publishing ministerial content. This provision states that public sector bodies must ensure that publication is in the public interest.
These regulations set out what are acceptable public interest purposes.
VPS code of conduct
For an agency website or digital channel funded with taxpayer dollars, where there’s ministerial content, you’ll need to comply with the Victorian Public Sector Commission (VPSC) Code of Conduct for Employees,
Getting it approved
Contact your Strategic Communications staff to find out who approves ministerial-related content for digital assets.
What agency staff can publish
Agencies can publish any content classified as ‘agency content’. Agency content can be digital content published by:
- departments, such as the Department of Health and Human Services
- agencies, such as Film Victoria
- statutory authorities, such as the Port of Melbourne Corporation
- independent statutory authorities such as the Chief Investigator, Transport Safety
Ministerial content that serves public interest
It’s acceptable to publish ministerial messages on your agency’s website, when they serve the public interest.
For example, a minister’s media release issuing a flood warning for their electorate can reasonably be included with VicRoads and other travel advisories on your agency’s website. However, this should only be done if the release isn’t already available elsewhere. Always check the media release section of the first.
What agency staff can't publish
Material of a party political nature
Material that relates solely to party political issues or might be categorised as ‘how to vote’ material can’t be published on an agency-funded site.
Other content may be borderline. To work out what is ‘party political’ you’ll need to apply your own judgement or contact your strategic communications staff to discuss. It will depend on the language used and its intent. Every case will be different, so you’ll need to make a decision case-by-case. For example:
- unacceptable: A minister’s defence of government policy draws distinctions between government and opposition policy
- acceptable: An announcement of a policy or new initiative from the Victorian government
In keeping with your professional responsibilities, in some cases you can legitimately decline a request to digitally publish ministerial content.
Links to a minister's private website
You should avoid linking from an agency’s to a minister’s private website.
Irrelevant information about ministers
Agency websites should not publish information about ministers’ activities or views that have no relationship to the minister’s official duties (for example, their favourite books or discussion of unrelated activities in their electorate). Ministers can establish personal websites for such purposes.
When in doubt, escalate it
If you are concerned about material you’re being asked to place on your agency-funded website, escalate and raise your concerns promptly with your manager.
Rules for ministerial content
Distinguish it from agency content
It’s important to make sure that you distinguish between agency and ministerial websites. This is done using visual branding. Agency or Victorian Government branding or logos shouldn’t be used on ministerial websites. Ministerial websites should also use a different domain name.
Don’t use vic.gov.au for ministerial websites
Ministers’ personal websites that don’t relate to the official business of government aren’t included in the vic.gov.au domain. The Parliament of Victoria website lists all members’ personal websites and social media channels.
Use the correct naming conventions
It’s important to understand when to use the capitalised form of a title (that is, when to use ‘Minister’ and not ‘minister’).
The general rule is to use capitals for a formal title (that is, a ‘proper noun’).
We use lowercase for informal titles, for example:
- the state government has taken the bold step
- the minister’s website...
- former premier, Joe Blogs...
- Victoria’s premier, The Hon. Joanne Blogs
And we use upper case (or capitals) for a formal title, for example:
- The Premier of Victoria, The Hon. Joanne Blogs
- The Victorian Government today announced new...
- The Premier, Joe Blogs...
- The Minister for Education reiterated...
Keep records when you decommission old digital content
Also make sure you understand which digital records to retain and for how long – check with your local records management officer for details.
Related how-to guides
Reviewed 19 August 2019