This week's local government news.
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Municipal Association of Victoria


All your local government news this week

Issue 1115: 2 March 2017
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Strategic priorities
  • Strategic Planning Sessions: There are two MAV Strategic Planning Sessions remaining for members to influence the MAV’s work priorities and inform development of our 2017-18 Strategic Work Plan. These will be held on 9 March at 1-3pm in Benalla, and 10 March at 11-1pm in Warrnambool. 
  • Kinder funding: The Federal Government has still not committed to continue funding its share of 15 hours of kindergarten a week, beyond December 2017. The MAV has written to the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten and Federal Education Minister Senator Simon Birmingham as the Federal Budget approaches, but as well as this, all councils are encouraged to urgently write to their local MPs and Victorian Senators. The MAV has prepared a template letter for mayors and a Members Brief to assist.
  • Indexation freeze: The Australian Local Government Association is still seeking examples from councils of how the freeze to Financial Assistance Grants indexation has affected your communities, as part of its campaign for the restoration of Financial Assistance Grants indexation in the May Budget. Examples can be emailed to the ALGA.

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The Transport Accident Commission (TAC) has arranged a visit from expert road safety educators and practitioners from the Netherlands who specialise in cyclist safety.

Teije Gorris and Paul van den Bosch from DTV Consultants will be working with the TAC on State Government cyclist safety projects, and following this, will be delivering a series of workshops for representatives from councils, VicRoads and private consultants.

Teije and Paul will share their Dutch cyclist safety visions and practices imbued by their recent cyclist safety experiences in Victoria with council workshop attendees. The aim is to provide  insights into advanced cycling safety strategies and principles, and give councils capacity to incorporate these into future bike facility designs.

Two local government workshop sessions will take place on Wednesday 15 March at the MAV offices, 9:30am–1pm and 1.30pm–5pm. Sessions will have capacity for up to 20 representatives from Victorian councils in each workshop. Council participation may be registered to one representative per council, depending on the level of interest.

Register for these free workshops online.

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The Victorian Government has released the report of the Yarra River Protection Ministerial Advisory Committee and its response, following a consultation process held last year. A Yarra River Action Plan has been developed and Melbourne Water has been tasked as the lead agency to deliver it.

The actions include the creation of the Birrarung Council, which will comprise Traditional Owners and representatives from environmental, farming and community bodies.

A natural infrastructure taskforce will also be convened with public land managers, including councils, to develop an urban natural infrastructure strategy that provides an integrated vision to improve the liveability and ecological health of the growing city.

Councils along the Yarra River will also be supported to contribute to the development of the Yarra Strategic Plan and lead its implementation in their local district.

Many of the actions will be welcomed by councils, which have also been involved in providing advice through the Ministerial Advisory Committee’s consultation process. The MAV also made a submission last year. The Action Plan and the advisory committee’s report can be viewed online

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A new Country of Origin Food Labelling Information Standard came into effect last year, with businesses given two years to transition to the new arrangements.

The new standard will require businesses to make changes to the labelling of their unpackaged fresh fruit and vegetables.

This is a change from the previous system of country of origin labelling requirements coming under the national Food Standards Code, which in Victoria is regulated by councils as part of their food safety regulatory activities.

Now, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) will be responsible for promoting compliance with the new standard and has developed guidance material to assist industry and consumers.

Information about the new requirements is available on the ACCC website. There is also a Small Business Helpline on 1300 302 021.

Workshops are also being run by the Australian Department of Industry, Innovation and Science for small and medium businesses that work in food production, wholesaling, retailing, importing and related industries such as printing and packaging.

The following workshops are scheduled during March:

  • Albury – Thursday 23 March, 9 am
  • Shepparton – Thursday 23 March, 9am
  • Dandenong – Tuesday 28 March, 9am
  • Melbourne – Tuesday 28 March, 3pm

Businesses (or anyone interested in attending) can register to attend the workshops online.

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The MAV is pleased to be supporting a new ‘Pets in Crisis’ partnership program focussing on helping women and children escape family violence – with their pets.

This new program is being developed by Safe Steps Family Violence Response Centre and Lort Smith Animal Hospital, with support from the RSPCA and MAV. It aims to address the issue of women fearing to leave a violent relationship due to the threats of harm to their pets if they do so, and having no options available to leave with their pets.

Threats and actual violence against pets is commonly used as weapons by perpetrators of family violence to punish and control women and their children. 

The Pets is Crisis program will build a framework for a state-wide referral pathway for pets and animals put at risk from family violence. 

This means when women contact Safe Steps and disclose they have concerns about their pet, or are hesitant about leaving a harmful relationship because they are concerned about being removed from their pet, a safe emergency care arrangement is immediately available.

The MAV is keen to be involved in the development of the program to ensure councils’ local laws and animal management officers have clear referral pathways available to them in situations where family violence is a presenting issue.

For more information, contact Kellie Nagle.

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Road safety forum

The MAV is hosting a road safety forum to bring together speakers from a range of backgrounds to discuss various aspects and approaches that councils can contribute to road safety.

This half-day forum will feature an international guest speaker; State Government speakers from VicRoads and Victoria Police; and presentations from councils who will be discussing their local approaches to road safety.

When: 9am – 1pm, Tuesday 14 March 2017

Where: MAV Offices, 60 Collins Street, Melbourne

This event is free to all member councillors and council officers. The forum agenda and registration are available online.

Maternal and Child Health Conference

The state-wide Maternal and Child Health Conference is being held on 21 April at the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, with a focus on perinatal and infant mental health.

Web-streaming will be available in Mildura, Warrnambool, Wangaratta, Moe and Horsham.

The conference provides an opportunity for the MCH workforce to come together and learn about a range of subjects that impact on the Maternal and Child Health Service.

Registration is available online.

For further information, contact Kim Howland.


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  • Waste to Energy: This week the State Government launched a $2 million program to support the development of waste to energy technologies. The Waste to Energy Infrastructure Fund is designed for the waste management sector, councils, water authorities and businesses with proposals for new or upgraded projects that can be commissioned by 31 December 2019. Expressions of interest close on 3 April.
  • Multicultural events: More than $2 million is available to community groups and schools under the State Government’s Multicultural Festivals and Events program. Small grants are capped at $10,000, large grants at $100,000, while primary and secondary schools can apply for up to $2,000. Multi-year funding of up to three years is also available for long-running events or those based in regional areas. Local government can partner with not-for-profit entities to apply.

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100 years of MCH

The MAV is currently developing resources for councils and a dedicated page on our website to promote this year's celebration of 100 years of the Maternal and Child Health Service.

A major centenary event will be held by the MAV and City of Yarra in June, with the Premier and Minister for Families and Children both invited to attend. More details of this event will be provided soon.

State-wide Maternal and Child Health Conferences will also be held in April and November this year.

Further information about council resources and the MAV webpage will be provided soon. In the meantime councils are encouraged to organise local events to celebrate 100 years of the Maternal and Child Health Service with their communities.

For more information, contact Kim Howland.

All the Little Children

A special centenary edition of the book ‘All the Little Children: The Story of Victoria’s Baby Health Centres’ by Heather Sheard was launched earlier this year.

The book was first published by the MAV in 2007 and has been relaunched by Maternal and Child Health Nurses Victoria to mark the 100th anniversary of the Maternal and Child Health Service.

The book provides a historical journey of the challenges and achievements of community members in establishing the important service, with the support of local and State Government.

‘All the Little Children: The Story of Victoria’s Baby Health Centres’ by Heather Sheard can be purchased online.

The MAV will provide one copy to every member council for their library.

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  • The autumn planned burning season has officially commenced. Over the coming months, Forest Fire Management Victoria and CFA crews will be conducting planned burns across Victoria to reduce the risk of severe bushfires to communities and the environment. The State has also commenced a Smoke and Your Health campaign to assist community members to understand how smoke can affect people’s health. A council information kit, containing a range of campaign resources provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, is available to download from our members-only Comms Hub.
  • Minister for Local Government Natalie Hutchins has selected 13 mayors to form the third Local Government Mayoral Advisory Panel. The Mayors will provide advice on a wide range of matters of interest to the local government sector, including the ongoing review of the Local Government Act.
  • The State Government has announced an expansion of the VicSmart program. Additional classes of permit applications that will be assessable via VicSmart are: a single storey extension to a single dwelling where specific design criteria are met; and buildings and works up to $100,000 in residential zones, where not associated with a dwelling.

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