National General Assembly
The State of the Regions report was released at the National General Assembly (NGA) this week. It assesses regional inefficiencies based on last year's benchmarking methodology and continues the debate on what may be required in developing a more rational approach to regional development in this country.
More than 1000 delegates attended this years’ NGA, the biggest ever turnout. Delegates were addressed by Minister for Infrastructure and Transport and Minister for Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese; Shadow Minister for Local Government, Senator Barnaby Joyce; Leader of the Australian Greens, Christine Milne; Leader of the Nationals, the Hon Warren Truss MP; and many other speakers.
The ALGA also launched the national local government federal election document with ten key commitments in the lead up to September. The ten point plan includes a call for constitutional change; more sustainable funding; a permanent Roads to Recovery program; an end to cost shifting; and a variety of other priorities.
On the final day of the NGA, Minister Albanese announced $150 million of community infrastructure funding, with every municipality across Australia to benefit. This funding is being provided under two programs: the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) and the Liveable Cities program. Applications open on Friday 21 June and close on 22 July. A list of funding allocations to councils has also been published on the RDAF website. Victoria is set to receive $37.29 million.
The national Yes campaign was launched at the National General Assembly this week. Constitutional law expert George Williams and newly appointed National Campaign Director Digby Nancarrow discussed the Yes campaign. Digby discussed key messages, strategies, resources that will be provided to councils, and the role of councillors throughout the campaign.
This week has seen extensive media coverage over the announcement by Minister Albanese and federal Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus allocating public funding for the Yes and No cases in proportion to the House of Representatives vote. There was strong bipartisan support, with 133 (98 per cent) voting in favour and two votes against the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) Amendment Bill 2013.
The MAV has expressed our disappointment at the active involvement by the Victorian Government in the No campaign in a media release. It was particularly concerning to see the suggestion that there is no public benefit from securing more than $100 million a year in federal money to help pay for local roads and community facilities. Our Opinion Editorial published in the Herald Sun further discussed the Yes case.
More Yes campaign advice and news for members will be available in our official campaign update later this week.
Home and Community Care negotiations
Last month the MAV advised councils that resulting from the Victorian Government signing up to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Home and Community Care (HACC) program for over sixty-fives will be transferred to the Commonwealth. The MAV has now met with State Health Minister Davis. A concession achieved in the agreement with Victoria was that the wording included “The Commonwealth and Victoria will work together to retain the benefits of Victoria’s current Home and Community Care service system.”
The Minister advised that the State will establish a formal advisory process with the MAV and other key peak bodies to articulate the strengths of the Victorian system and develop the position/options we can put to the Commonwealth to maintain the benefits of our effective and stable service platform. Councils have now received a letter from Minister Davis advising of the Commonwealth/State agreement on the NDIS, and implications for HACC.
All councils will be involved in considering the local government position on HACC and advising the MAV on our political strategy. If we are successful in maintaining some of the strengths of the Victorian system, including an ongoing role for the State, councils will have a greater range of options as to how they proceed. The State has indicated that any transition process will take a number of years to unfold, and it is unknown whether the outcome of the federal election may affect the Commonwealth’s aged care strategy.
A general position developed by councils with the MAV does not commit any particular council to a course of action in relation to HACC services.
The MAV will regularly update all councils with information on the proposed advocacy strategy and lobbying position being considered or developed.
For further information contact Clare Hargreaves on 9667 5543.
Child care planning
The Australian Government has engaged Sydney’s University of Technology: Centre for Local Government, to undertake a study into the impact of planning on child care availability and develop Best Practice Guidelines for the planning and development of child care facilities.
This study has come about mainly from pressure in other capital cities where there appears to be high child care demand, with planning restraints in some municipalities impacting on childcare facility development.
The MAV is aware that this is not the case in Victoria - in fact the contrary - where councils have actively supported the development of child care facilities where they are needed and have constructive planning partnerships with private and public sector providers. We have already advised Minister Ellis of this through the ALGA earlier in 2013, and have had an initial meeting with the Centre for Local Government last week.
The MAV is seeking initial council input to demonstrate best practice planning examples of Victoria's approach. Please contact Jan Barrett if you would like to contribute. We will keep councils informed of the project.
For further information contact Clare Hargreaves.
Consultation on Energy Saver Incentive program
The Victorian Government has released an issues paper on the Energy Saver Incentive program, also known as the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target. Responses to the issues paper will inform a Regulatory Impact Statement on the scheme as it reaches the conclusion of its second phase at the end of 2014. In particular, views are sought on the barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency measures; performance of the scheme to date and the future of the scheme from 1 January 2015.
Amendments to the Victorian Energy Efficiency Act recently passed through Parliament that will allow the creation of energy efficiency certificates from street lighting. Councils are encouraged to make a submission about how they've used the scheme to support their community in reducing their costs and carbon footprint within their own organisation, and the opportunity in the future to support energy efficient street lighting.
The MAV intends to make a submission and would welcome input from councils, in particular about how the scheme has helped to mitigate barriers to the uptake of energy efficiency. Submissions towards the issues paper are due by 8 July.
For further information contact Ben Morris on 9667 5580.
New guide to help children in emergencies
A new national guide to help local councils across Australia to plan for the diverse needs of children caught up in an emergency has been officially released by the federal Minister for Emergency Management, Mark Dreyfus and the Victorian Minister for Community Services, Mary Wooldridge.
The guide is designed to offer local councils practical advice on how to recognise and include the unique needs of children and young people into their local emergency management plans.
The Emergency Management Planning for Children and Young People – Planning Guide for Local Government will be available to download from the Victorian Department of Human Services website shortly.
Northern Grampians Shire wins National Award for Local Government
The MAV would like to congratulate Northern Grampians Shire Council for winning the prestigious National Award for Local Government (small council) this week.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard presented the award to the council for its Stawell Steps project incorporating two spillways aimed at diverting flood water away from nearby properties, which has become a community meeting space as well as flood mitigation infrastructure.
The winners of the National Awards for Excellence are selected from among the category winners, which were announced in April.
The National Awards for Local Government recognise, reward and promote the innovative work of local governments across Australia.
Building community resilience grants program
A further $700 000 in funding for community-based projects is available through the Building Community Resilience grants program. It is designed to support a range of community-driven projects that build Australia’s resilience to violent extremism.
Under the program, grants are available for a range of local initiatives that:
give communities the skills and resources to understand and actively address intolerant or extremist messages and discourage violent extremism
support people who may be vulnerable to extremist views due to personal experiences of disengagement and marginalisation, and/or
educate groups and individuals about the avenues available to participate positively in political debate.
Entries are open to local government and community organisations and close on 28 June.
Certificate in Community Sector Management
The Vocational Graduate Certificate in Community Sector Management is a new program at RMIT University, starting in July.
The program is designed for people currently in management roles in the community sector to advance their skills in organisational and strategic management to lead teams and institutions. Delivered through intensive workshops, one day a month, it is a flexible qualification suitable for those working full-time.
Supporting community learning in local government
New research from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government explores how local government can foster a culture of learning in their community for positive long-term outcomes. The report Learning as a Driver for Change looks specifically at how partnerships between councils, their communities and learning organisations can help improve social outcomes, build community capability and strengthen community governance. Such partnerships make social inclusion a priority and can support both formal and informal local learning opportunities. The research includes a comprehensive literature review, case studies of Hume City and Gwydir Shire councils, and an accompanying Learning Communities Framework template for other councils interested in developing learning partnerships in their own communities.
Victorian Landcare Awards
Nominations for the 2013 Victorian Landcare Awards close 30 June.
These Awards are an opportunity for individual land-carers, groups, networks, organisations and schools to gain recognition for their hard work.
There are 12 Award categories. Winners of nine award categories will go forward as Victoria's nominees at the biennial National Landcare Awards, which will take place in 2014.
For further information contact the Awards Coordinator on 9637 9956.
In social media news...
Boroondara has released an app that allows local residents to measure freeway noise. Find out more here.
Governments are using Vine to shine. Read more here.
From the UK: More councils are embracing social media. Find out more here.