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MAV Insurance Bulletin

Issue 21: November 2014
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In this issue:

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2014 MAV Insurance & Risk Conference Victoria
Road Management Act judgement
Other recent court decisions
Monash Injury Research Institute - VISU
Recommended legislative changes for swimming pools and spas
Pool Risk Manager website – preparing swimming pools for summer
Tree Roots and Legal Liability
FOI Requests and Legal Professional Privilege
Emergency Management Victoria post fire season operational review
Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) tables Heatwave Report
2014-15 Communities, Sport & Recreation Tasmania grant program
New community engagement toolkit for small councils
Social Media for tough-to-love brands
LMI Help Desk Q&A
Online volunteer manual
Importance of Road Maintenance
Events

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2014 MAV Insurance & Risk Conference Victoria

The MAV Insurance & Risk Conference took place at the Melbourne Museum on 16-17 October. Preliminary feedback from attendees and speakers has been overwhelmingly positive.

More than 80 council staff representing over 50 municipalities attended – including one of our Tasmanian members. All enjoyed a great line-up of speakers that were an eclectic mix of entertaining, informative and educational.

MAV Insurance would like to thank all of the speakers for sharing their time, knowledge and experience. Without their input such a successful event would not be possible. We would also like to thank the following members:

  • Dr Michael Kennedy, CEO – Mornington Peninsula Shire Council
  • Steve Lambert, Director Corporate Services – Wyndham City Council
  • Dr Ian Bell, Director Engineering & Infrastructure – Knox City Council
  • Bernard Mulholland, Manager of Risk & Contract Compliance – City of Stonnington
  • Victoria Sorbera, Lean Development Officer – City of Melbourne.

All presentations that have been provided for distribution are now available in the members-only section of the MAV Insurance website.

Sharing experiences and knowledge between members is extremely valuable. If your council has a specific topic they would like present at an upcoming event, please contact our Risk Management Department.

View presentations

Road Management Act judgement

On 14 November Judge Bowman of the County Court handed down his decision in the matter of Shire of Campaspe ats Kennedy. This case, run by the scheme a few months ago, became a test case on the Road Management Act (RM Act). His Honour found in favour of the council on all applicable RM Act defences under s102, s103 and s105. In doing so he determined that council had complied with its Road Management Plan and that its 30mm intervention level was not so unreasonable that council could not rely on the RM Act defence. The plaintiff has not indicated whether she will seek to appeal the decision.

We will provide a more detailed analysis of this important decision to members shortly.

Other recent court decisions

Case 1: S.138 recovery by VWA – duty of care to a contractor

On November 14 Judge O’Neill of the County Court handed down his decision in the matter of Yarra City Council & Ors ats Yelken. MAV Insurance was successful in defending a recovery action by the Victorian Workcover Authority for payments made by them to the injured worker. The worker was an employee of a contractor that couriered books between City of Yarra and City of Melbourne libraries. It was alleged that library staff overloading the crates of books was a cause of his injury.

Excellent evidence was given by a number of library staff that they were very conscious of not overloading the crates. It was also argued by us that the worker’s employer had failed in its obligations regarding training and design of a safe system. His Honour found that the council did not owe a duty of care to the worker in the circumstances and even if it did, it did not breach the duty. We will be seeking to recover our legal costs from the VWA.

Case 2: Infrastructure maintenance and replacement

VCAT recently decided an LMI case involving a water authority where one of their mains failed, damaging the applicant’s property. VCAT was satisfied that the applicants demonstrated the damage to their property, as per s.157 of the Water Act, was due to either negligent or intentional conduct on the part of the authority. Arguments centred on the reasonableness of the water authority’s maintenance and infrastructure replacement procedures. VCAT also commented in passing on s.83 of the Wrongs Act regarding the resources defence and seemed to consider it was an option for the authority to increase rates as a means to overcome that issue.

This decision has application for councils, as well as water authorities.

Case 3: Vandalism and security around roadwork sites

The New South Wales Supreme Court recently decided a case that involved injuries to a motorist who collided with bollards in an area where roadwork was being carried out by council. Some of the bollards had been moved by unknown persons out of hours creating a danger for road users. The plaintiff had argued that a road authority owed an extended duty to take adequate precautionary measures to guard against this possibility.

The court ruled that the relationship between a road authority and road users does not create a special duty of care in such circumstances.

Read more 

Monash Injury Research Institute - VISU

The Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit (VISU) releases a ‘Hazard’ publication bi-annually. The results look at severity, frequency, preventability and interest in the topic. Their latest edition looks at playground injury data.

Members are encouraged to view the publication via the link below.

Read more 

Recommended legislative changes for swimming pools and spas

Deputy State Coroner Iain West recently handed down his findings and recommendations following an inquest into the 2008 drowning of a child in a private swimming pool.

The issues relate to pool and spa fencing standards and obligations, the roles and responsibilities of the property owner, the builder, the building surveyor, councils and real estate agents. The Coroner recommended the State Government consider changes to legislation including:

  • Registration of all private pools and spas on a state-wide pool register
  • Fencing inspections every three years and prior to sale or rental
  • Uniform fencing standards regardless of the date of pool or spa construction.

The MAV is generally supportive of the recommendations proposed by the Coroner to improve swimming pool and spa regulations, and boost education for pool owners. We hope to work collaboratively with the State Government, Life Saving Victoria, the building industry, the Swimming Pool and Spa Association, and Consumer Affairs Victoria to further work through the Coroner’s recommendations.

The MAV encourages members to support KidSafe Victoria’s current initiative Close the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning. The campaign forms part of the government's 'Play it Safe by the Water Campaign'.

Pool Risk Manager website – preparing swimming pools for summer

Members are reminded that the Pool Risk Manager website is a freely accessible knowledge resource provided by MAV Insurance, DEPI and VMIA for the purposes of all council and State Government owned public swimming pools. Provided is a collection of resources, checklists, templates, risk management advice, and other helpful tools designed and collated with the help of industry leaders.

A recent update of the site includes the addition of various knowledge tests that are ideal for integration into Induction training for new pool staff.

To access the members-only section of the website you will need to register.

Tree Roots and Legal Liability

Recently, members have received legal opinion from outside the Scheme in relation to trees, legal liability and specifically tree root claims. We encourage members to view the below document outlining MAV Insurance’s position and response to views expressed.

Read more 

FOI Requests and Legal Professional Privilege

Members are encouraged to view the below document in regards to collection of information under the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Read more 

Emergency Management Victoria post fire season operational review

The 2013/14 fire season was the most significant since the 2008/09 season. Through the season, Victoria had 19 Extreme and Severe Fire Danger Rating days. More than 463,000 hectares of public and private land was burnt and 80 residences were destroyed.

The 2013/14 Post Season Operations Review involved a collaborative assessment of the sector’s operations during the season, and recognised the importance of timely, tailored and relevant warnings and information during an emergency. Matters raised with the MAV through MEMEG are also included.

Along with the Post Season Operations Review, three case studies have been developed. These case studies should be read in conjunction with the review, and include Evacuation, Urban-Rural Interface Fires, and Managing Priorities.

The themes identified from the review are being incorporated into pre-season briefings for 2014/15, as well as the new edition of the Victorian Bushfire Handbook.

Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) tables Heatwave Report

The VAGO audit examined whether the State’s heatwave framework, which is consistent with international better practice, has been effective in reducing the impact of extreme heat on public health.

It found that while implementation of the framework and the collective efforts of all agencies contributed to reducing the impact of extreme heat in the 2014 heatwave, there are shortcomings that need to be addressed. VAGO made eight recommendations directed at Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) and the Department of Health. These include that EMV:

  • in working with appropriate agencies, clarifies the control and other roles and responsibilities for heatwave arrangements, and importantly for councils
  • in developing the new emergency management planning legislation, clarifies the role of municipal councils and includes a quality assurance mechanism for municipal emergency management planning.

2014-15 Communities, Sport & Recreation Tasmania grant program

Round one of the 2014 Major and Minor Grants Program is now open, providing local government and other organisations financial assistance towards equipment purchases, and the development / improvement of facilities in Tasmania.

New community engagement toolkit for small councils

A new resource has been developed by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) to assist rural, remote and Indigenous councils to improve their engagement with communities.

While there are numerous resources available about community engagement, this is the only toolkit specially designed for the needs and circumstances of rural, remote and Indigenous (RRI) councils.

Community engagement is essential to democratic government, yet research by ACELG found that small councils in regional and remote Australia may not have the staff and resources to undertake elaborate community engagement activities.

This toolkit aims to address these needs. It is designed as a practical guide with simple tips and advice on engaging communities and includes practical tools, methods and downloadable templates especially suited to the circumstances of RRI councils.

Social Media for tough-to-love brands

At the recent MAV Insurance Victorian Conference, Gerry McCusker of Engage ORM presented on Reputational Risk – Social Media, and was recognised in post-event surveys as one of the most popular conference sessions. Following this, members are invited to read his article on the impact of company branding via social media.

Read more 

LMI Help Desk Q&A

MAV Insurance receives many queries from members, on an endless number of topics. This edition's Q&A topic is Guidance on Modifications to Public Nature Strips’.

If you have a query for MAV Insurance, please contact:

Online volunteer manual

A NSW council has developed an innovative online volunteer manual, which assists with the community management of council facilities. Facility Manager has been produced by Lake Macquarie City Council, and provides volunteers with 24-hour access to information on safety and risk management, training, governance, and event management.

The council hopes the website will benefit other local government organisation.

Importance of Road Maintenance

A new report from the World Road Association shows the value of investment in road maintenance in financially constrained economies.

The Importance of Road Maintenance makes the case for adequate maintenance of road networks when maintenance budgets are limited.

The report explains why investing in maintenance at the right time can lead to significant reductions in future costs and supports the efficient management of maintenance.

Members are encouraged to read the report and consider its findings.

Events

Best Practice Forums – Round Three - Tasmania

The third and final round of Forums for 2014 will be held in Tasmania on November 19-20. Please visit the MAV Insurance website for details regarding dates, locations, agenda and speakers.

2015 MAV Insurance Conference Tasmania

Planning for the 2015 MAV Insurance Conference has commenced and a pre-conference survey will be available to members shortly. If members have any suggestions for conference topics or speakers please email Sharyn LaRocca.

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