Issue 975:                                                      Week ending 25 April 2014

Annual Report Awards shortlist announced
New planning and reporting regulations

Discussion Paper circulated
HACC funding boost
Vale councillor Nicola Davis
Rural Councils Victoria projects
Early Years Awards nominations now open
Free council dam training session
New interpreting and translating guidelines
Call for Abstracts: Australian Regional Development Conference
Calling for Green Army community projects
Commission finds high rate of pregnancy-related discrimination

EPA launches ‘A cleaner Victoria’ campaign
In social media news...

Annual Report Awards shortlist announced

The shortlist for this year’s MAV Annual Report Awards has been announced.

Candidates were shortlisted across eight categories: Best Summary, Best Financial Overview, Best Governance Reporting, Best Sustainability Reporting, Best Performance Reporting, Best Annual Report (overall), Best Library Annual Report and the new category: Best Communication.

A committee of eight judges from audit, communications, council and other backgrounds spent months reviewing all council annual reports to decide on the finalists.

Senior Manager, Audit and Assurance at HLB Mann Judd Peter Gallagher, who chaired the committee, says Victorian local government annual reporting has grown increasingly stronger since the awards began in 2000.

The winners will be announced at the MAV State Council on 16 May.

New planning and reporting regulations

The Victorian Government has announced the commencement of the new Local Government (Planning and Reporting) Regulations. The regulations prescribe items councils will be required to report on in annual reports and budgets, and specifies the new indicators that will underpin the performance reporting framework.

The regulations came into effect on 18 April with the exception of time series reporting, some capital program reporting in the strategic resources plan, and three timeliness indicators in the performance framework (relating to HACC, animal management and food compliance). These become operational on 1 July 2015.

Our submission expressed considerable concern about the reporting framework. The suite of indicators appear overly ambitious and the estimated costs associated with implementation were extremely low. While minor changes were made to the regulations in response to specific MAV feedback, we continue to believe the framework will produce inaccurate data and will incur significant costs to the sector.

The MAV also notes that the Minister for Local Government Tim Bull has suggested the new framework will put downward pressure on council rates. The MAV believes that the value of the framework is on improving the transparency of councils’ activities rather than reducing cost.

Detailed work by the MAV over the last decade has also suggested that rates are driven by council costs being higher than CPI, an increased scope of responsibilities, and inadequate indexation of government funding. As such, we believe – while broadly beneficial – the framework is unlikely to result in rating contractions.

For further information, contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.

Discussion Paper circulated

The MAV has circulated a Local Government Amendment (Governance & Conduct) Bill 2014 Discussion Paper to all council CEOs, councillors and governance managers.

Our paper raises concerns that proposed amendments will make significant changes to council governance processes with limited, if any, consultation regarding the catalyst for the proposed changes or alternative solutions.

We seek council feedback by 10am on Thursday 1 May so the MAV Board can finalise a sector position at its meeting on Friday 2 May.

For further information, contact Alison Lyon or visit our Governance Yammer page.

HACC funding boost

Last week the Australian and Victorian Governments announced a $33.9 million funding boost to Home and Community Care services across the state.

The funding will go towards supporting seniors, younger people with a disability and their carers.

Included in the announcement is that funding for meal prices has increased from $1.61 to $3.18 per meal, applicable from the 2013/14 year.

The MAV welcomes the doubling of the meals price which follows many years of advocacy by Victorian councils seeking improved funding for the delivered meals service.

Vale councillor Nicola Davis

The MAV was saddened to learn of the passing of Whittlesea councillor Nicola Davis earlier this month.

Her funeral will be held at the Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre, South Morang on 28 April at 11am.

The service will be followed by a private cremation. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Olivia Newton-John Wellness Centre.

Rural Councils Victoria projects

Expressions of interest are now open for two projects for rural councils.

The Rural Recruitment project gives rural councils the opportunity to apply for funding to help them attract and place final year tertiary students in internship jobs through a program by Rural Councils Victoria (RCV).

Rural councils can also apply for funding for the Creative Industries project: technology-based demonstration projects that promote, build capacity, retain and harness the economic benefits of creative industries in local communities.

Submissions close on 16 May.

Early Years Awards nominations now open

Nominations for the 2014 Early Years Awards are now open in three categories:

  • Better access to child and family support, health services, schools and early education and care services
  • Improvements in parents' capacity, confidence and enjoyment of family life
  • Communities that are more family and child friendly.

Submissions must demonstrate an outstanding contribution to early childhood services and a commitment to give Victorian children the best start in life.

Nominated programs, projects or initiatives must have been undertaken or implemented in the period from January 2013 to June 2014.

Nominations close at 5pm on Friday 23 May.

Free council dam training session

Councils are invited to attend a free training session on dam safety, maintenance and surveillance hosted by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.

The training session is targeted towards those responsible for the operation and maintenance of small but potentially hazardous dams and retarding basins.

The session will provide participants with an understanding of the risks associated with dam assets, and other key components of a dam safety inspection and surveillance. All dam-owning councils are encouraged to attend.

The session will be held at the MAV office, level 11, 60 Collins St, on 27 May 10am–4pm. Register online by 23 May.

This training is part of an ongoing MAV and DSE partnership to assist dam-owning councils. For further information, contact James Cleaver on 9667 5519.

New interpreting and translating guidelines

The Victorian Multicultural Commission’s new interpreting and translating guidelines advise that online machine translation tools should not be used on council websites, as they can be inaccurate and the risk of mistranslation is high.

The guidelines advise that online machine translation tools are unable to take into account variations in dialect and language, linguistic preferences of communities, actual meaning, specific cultural references and other nuances such as politeness.

The guidelines were launched last week and have been improved to more clearly reflect current Victorian Government policy and the latest developments in IT.

Call for Abstracts: Australian Regional Development Conference

Councils are invited to submit an abstract for the Australian Regional Development Conference which is being held in Albury on 15-16 October.

The aim of the conference is to advance economic and social outcomes for regional Australia and provides an opportunity to discuss the challenges, opportunities and future of regional Australia.

Abstracts close on Monday 28 April.

Calling for Green Army community projects

The Australian Government is calling for applications for the Green Army Programme. They are looking for projects that will make a difference to the environment and local communities.

Green Army projects will restore and protect native habitat, weed invasive species, plant vegetation, clean up creeks and rivers, prevent erosion and conserve cultural heritage places.

Under the Green Army Programme, participants will be paid an allowance and undertake accredited training.

Applications close on 9 May. Projects must be ready to commence between 1 July 2014 and 30 June 2015.

Commission finds high rate of pregnancy-related discrimination

The Australian Human Rights Commission has found that half of all Australian women have experienced pregnancy-related discrimination in the workplace.

The Supporting Working Parents: Pregnancy and Return to Work review has found that one in two women in Australia reported experiencing discrimination in the workplace during their pregnancy, parental leave or on return to work. While prevalent at all stages, discrimination was more commonly reported as occurring upon return to work, followed by when requesting or on parental leave and during pregnancy.

The review also found that discrimination takes many different forms, ranging from negative attitudes and comments through to dismissal and that many women experience multiple forms of discrimination.

The review included an Australia-wide national consultation process and two national surveys. Australia is one of the few countries in the world to undertake such a review.

EPA launches ‘A cleaner Victoria’ campaign

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) Victoria is running a statewide litter campaign to educate all Victorians about the impacts of litter.

The campaign, 'A cleaner Victoria is in your hands', highlights the widespread effects of litter on our environment. Every year, Victorians generate almost 15 thousand tonnes of litter, with a clean-up bill of $80 million, and around 25 bushfires are caused across the state by discarded cigarette butts.

The campaign also encourages Victorians to report littering, including when they see litter thrown from vehicles. Litter can be reported through the EPA’s new 'Report Litter' mobile app, via their website, over the phone or by mail.

The EPA is encouraging councils to get involved in the campaign by making posters, signage, web banners, press ads and social media content available.

In social media news...

Upcoming MAV events...

30 April - 1 May

MAV 2014 Environment Conference

2 May

The Tween Years – get ready for inspiration!

7 May

2014 National LG Infrastructure & Asset Management Conference


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