The Federal Government's $3.5 billion Jobs for Families childcare package comes into full effect in 2017.
The MAV welcomes the fact that it includes a proposal for a streamlined, single childcare payment paid directly to childcare centres to reduce parents’ upfront costs as this was recommended in the Productivity Commission's Report.
However, we are concerned that this single childcare payment is based on a benchmark price of care. A benchmark price does not reflect the supply and demand for childcare, and potentially could mean that some services will (and do) charge higher than the benchmark, particularly where there is high unmet demand.
The MAV is also concerned that the proposed subsidy system ties access to early childhood education and care to a family's workforce participation which could mean that some of our most vulnerable children will only be able to access a limited amount of childcare (with the exception of those who have been determined to be at serious risk of abuse).
In addition, the MAV is concerned that by the time the government's package (which must be offset with other savings measures) comes into operation in 2017, it is likely that the cost of childcare will have risen, thus potentially making the benchmark prices inadequate.
Funding boost for 15 hours of kindergarten
We have welcomed the Federal Government’s funding boost of $840 million nationally for the continuation of 15 hours of kindergarten for the next two years.
Of the $840 million about a quarter will go directly to Victoria, and for the first time the funding will be indexed against the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This funding will ensure that all four-year-olds can access 15 hours of kindergarten to prepare them for the following school year.
Councils have done a great job of uniting through our kindergartens campaign to advocate for this important funding. The two years of funding is a great start, and we will continue to work with all levels of government to ensure longevity.
Children’s Facilities Capital Program grants
The 2015-16 Children’s Facilities Capital Program grant round is now open, and councils and kindergartens are invited to apply for capital grants.
Funding for major grants will be prioritised in areas with high population growth or social disadvantage, and can be used to either build new kindergartens or significantly upgrade existing facilities.
The MAV’s early years capital survey undertaken by councils in December 2014 indicated that Victorian councils invest in over $2 billion in kindergarten and maternal and child health facilities, and are planning to continue to do so. Councils also project a further $260 million is needed to meet growth, and at least $30 million is needed to meet new ratio changes requirements for 2016.
Throughout the process of developing the Children’s Facilities Capital Program Guidelines, the MAV and councils have provided extensive feedback to DET. The MAV welcomes the more strategic approach now being taken with regard to capital funding grants.
Councils are encouraged to submit EOIs by 17 July for all planned new infrastructure projects over the next four years.
MAV Central Enrolment Project
The MAV is currently undertaking workshops around Victoria to advise councils of the opportunity to strengthen and expand kindergarten central enrolment. A revised MAV Kindergarten Central Enrolment Guide is being developed, and councils/council collaborative ventures have been invited to apply for one off grants to set up a new central enrolment scheme or enhance their existing schemes.
Moreland, Greater Dandenong, and Maribyrnong councils are getting started by trialling ways to strengthen their central enrolment schemes to increase enrolments of vulnerable children. Moorabool and Greater Geelong councils are trialling the setting up of central enrolment for their municipalities. This is an exciting project and opportunity to improve kindergarten participation through central enrolment and we encourage all councils to participate.
Grant applications from councils are due by 9 June. For more information, contact Jan Barrett or Wendy Allan.
Preventing violence against women
Submissions to the Royal Commission into Family Violence closed on 29 May.
The MAV has developed a submission, which highlights in detail the position of local government to influence ending family violence, and the work that has already been done in this space by councils.
Following roundtable discussions with stakeholders, and hearings in July and August, the Commission is due to hand down its report on 29 February 2016.
Local Government Performance Reporting Framework
In April, based on feedback from the MAV and the sector, Minister for Local Government, Natalie Hutchins advised the MAV that the government intends to implement a transitional year for both the HACC and MCH cost indicators to allow the sector time to improve the quality of the data in time for the 2015/16 data reporting.
There will be a steering committee overseeing the further development of the reporting framework.
Diversity in HACC eNetwork
The MAV has established an eNetwork for council staff interested in achieving better access and equity outcomes from Home and Community Care funded programs and services. The eNetwork replaces the HACC CALD Network, and will help build councils capacity to meet the often compounded needs of HACC clients who:
- Are Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander or both
- Have a multicultural background
- Are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI)
- Have dementia
- Live in rural and remote areas
- Experience financial disadvantage (including people who are homeless, or are at risk of becoming homeless)
- Experienced institutional care (‘care leavers’).
The MAV invites HACC managers and coordinators, HACC staff with a relevant portfolio, and other staff responsible for the above areas to join the eNetwork.
Members will receive fortnightly information on relevant professional development, statistics and resources, and have the opportunity to share information, successes and challenges with colleagues at other Victorian councils. To join, email Bianca Nutt or call 9667 5580.
Leading the Way: New and Emerging Communities Forum
At this forum on 4 June, people who recently arrived in Australia will learn how to be a community leader, advocate for their community, and lobby and engage government. The MAV will be facilitating a break-out session on how to advocate through local government, including presentations from councils and the community members who successfully approached council about an issue important to their community.
To offer participants current avenues to get involved, the MAV is calling on councils to share information on vacancies they have in any committees, advisory groups or interfaith networks, including those unrelated to cultural diversity. Please send information to Bianca Nutt by 4 June.
This free event from the Ethnic Communities Council of Victoria will be opened by Hong Lim MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Asia Engagement, and is sponsored by the Victorian Multicultural Committee.
Funds for HACC Aboriginal training and professional development
Councils can request to receive up to $6,000 to recruit, or $15,000 to support, one or more Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander employees or trainees in their Home and Community Care team. These one-off funds provided by the Federal Department of Health and Ageing will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Interested councils are encouraged to discuss their ideas with Bianca Nutt on 9667 5580.
To further help local government recruit Indigenous Australians, the MAV recently launched their Victorian Local Government Aboriginal Employment Framework. It is expected that if councils undertook the top three actions in each of the three framework elements, the employment of Aboriginal people in local government would increase very quickly.
For more information email Lidia Thorpe or call 9667 5561.
VLGMIN and 2015 Forum
The MAV continues to host Victorian Local Government Multicultural Issues Network (VLGMIN) meetings. Membership is open to any council officer working with multicultural community members.
The theme for their 2015 VLGMIN forum has been set, and will focus on local government’s role in preventing violence against women with multicultural backgrounds. The forum is likely to take place in mid-September and will include speakers on the importance of intersectionality, and approaches and actions being taken by state and federal government.
For information, or to join VLGMIN, please contact the VLGMIN Chairperson, Eugenia Grammatikakis on 9518 3625.
Councillor Development Weekend social cohesion workshop
Councillors attending the MAV’s 2015 Councillor Development Weekend in July will be the first in Australia to participate in social cohesion workshops using the framework developed by the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG).
Participants will workshop relevant and topical issues often faced by councils, and receive first-hand experience of a framework that is hoped to be rolled out across all councils in the next two years.
Funded by the Attorney General’s Department, the framework is being developed by ACELG at the University of Technology Sydney for the Australian Human Rights Commission. It will be an online resource to support Australian councils to build social cohesion in diverse communities, and will offer valuable national consistency across this important space.
Registrations for Councillor Development Weekend can be made online.
Sports Without Borders Conference
Through participation and promotion, the MAV has continued support of the Sports Without Borders Conference: I'm not Racist, Sexist, Homophobic, but... Stop. Think. Change, held on 1 May at the Moonee Valley Racecourse.
The conference brought sports, recreation and diversity staff from regional and metro councils together with national, state and grass-roots sports clubs to learn about challenging the status quo and making sports clubs welcoming to everyone.
Panel discussions with media commentators and athletes who had been both the victim and perpetrator of racism generated challenging but worthwhile discussions, and participants expressed interest in working with councils to better promote their clubs to Indigenous and multicultural communities.
Disability Parking Permits
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner has recently written to the MAV asking councils to consider and protect the rights of people with disabilities seeking to use disability parking spaces.
The Commission’s Disability Reference Group has expressed concern that there is inconsistency in how strictly councils enforce disability parking rules. When people park illegally in disability spaces, it creates additional barriers for people with disabilities that affect their human rights.
As councils are public authorities under the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act, officers are obliged to consider relevant human rights when making decisions about enforcement of disability parking spaces. The Commission is also advocating to the relevant state department that penalties for parking in a disability parking space without a permit should be increased to be an effective deterrent.
For further information, contact Jan Black.
National Awards for Local Government winners announced
The MAV would like to congratulate the following Victorian councils who were successful in the Human Services categories in the 2015 National Awards for Local Government:
- Maroondah City Council for Changing Places Changing Lives, in the Disability Access and Inclusion category (highly commended, East Gippsland Shire)
- Mildura Rural City Council for Work Inspiration-Transitioning from School to Work, in the Youth Employment category (highly commended, Maroondah City Council).
The annual awards are a celebration of council achievements in delivering targeted, quality services to Australians in urban and regional communities.
The full list of category winners and highly commended projects are available online.
Access and inclusion at leisure centres
A collective group from local government and the disability sector partnered together to form a consortium known as YouMeUs – Achieving Inclusion.
YouMeUs – Achieving Inclusion has developed an innovative online training tool that has been successfully trialled by a selection of leisure centres within the Southern Metropolitan Region of Melbourne. The online training aims to assist leisure facilities and their staff to be more inclusive of people with a disability.
The 45-minute course includes case studies, videos and a quiz to assist participants with learning, and enhance inclusive practices and culture within a leisure centre.
The YouMeUs training program is now available to the public. For more information please email email@example.com.
Nominations for Victorian Senior of the Year Awards
Councils are encouraged to nominate inspirational older volunteers for the 2015 Victorian Senior of the Year Awards.
The prestigious awards celebrate the many people across Victoria, aged 60 and over, who support and encourage others through their dedicated volunteer work.
There are five award categories:
- Premier’s Award for Victorian Senior of the Year
- Veteran Community Award
- Promotion of Multiculturalism Award
- Healthy and Active Living Award
- COTA Senior Achiever Awards.
Nominations close on 10 July. For further information call Seniors Information Victoria on 1300 135 090.
New Future for Senior Citizens Centres and Clubs
With support from the Department of Health and Human Services, the MAV is part way through a project investigating different approaches being taken by councils in transitioning senior citizens centres with declining use, and clubs with declining numbers, to a different scenario that better meets the needs of older people in their communities.
The project involves Moira, Alpine, Mornington Peninsula, Banyule and Kingston councils. The National Ageing Research Institute has been appointed to undertake an evaluation and prepare a resource document to assist all councils. The project will be completed in mid-2016. For further information, contact Jan Bruce.
Apply now for VicHealth’s Walk to School grants
Applications are now open for VicHealth’s Walk to School grants. Up to $10,000 is available for Victorian local councils to promote Walk to School, deliver engagement activities with local primary schools, and undertake initiatives in their local community to support ongoing active travel among primary school-aged children and their families.
VicHealth's Walk to School is a high profile annual community event that encourages primary school students across Victoria to walk to and from school as often as possible during October. Your council can be part of the action and make a difference to the health and wellbeing of local primary school-aged children and their families. Grant applications close on 5 June.
National Cultural Forum Communique
The fifth National Local Government Cultural Forum was held in Hobart on 18 March.
The bi-annual meeting brings together cultural policy and planning representatives from the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), its member state and territory associations and capital cities. The Cultural Forum meeting also includes the Commonwealth Ministry for the Arts, and the Australia Council for the Arts. The objective is to increase the capacity of local government to strengthen the arts and cultural development in their communities.
More information, including the Terms of Reference and previous communiqués, is available online.