Issue 1009                                           Week ending 19 December 2014

Merry Christmas from the MAV
MAV Infographic: achievements in 2014
December issue of CiVic out now
Reform of Federation White Paper: new issues papers released
Government response to PC Inquiry into infrastructure
Local government Annual Reporting Awards
MAV Hardship Policy Guidelines
Consultation on building enforcement MOU begins
VCAT’s new approach in the Planning and Environment List
Early years capital information: final reminder
Regional Advisory Councils membership sought

2015 Aboriginal Scholarship Award
In social media news...

Merry Christmas from the MAV

The MAV Board, CEO and staff would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone involved in Victorian local government a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

Thank you for your continued support over the last 12 months and we look forward to working with you again in 2015. This will be the last bulletin for the year and it will resume in mid-January.

The MAV office will close at 3pm on 24 December, and will re-open on 5 January 2015.

MAV Infographic: achievements in 2014

We have produced an infographic to highlight some of the MAV’s major projects and achievements in 2014, in line with our strategic plan priorities.

The infographic includes a snapshot of funding wins, cost savings, partnerships, training and development, and innovation outcomes delivered for councils in 2014.

Key achievements include securing Commonwealth funding to ensure the additional five hours of kinder continues in 2015; $5 million annually in State funds to cover the costs of collecting the fire services property levy, indexed annually until 2018; a 45 per cent increase in the unit price paid by the State for HACC services; helping councils to save $451 million through our Energy-Efficient Street Lighting project; established Australia's first municipal bonds program to access cheaper borrowing rates for councils; and a strengthened Victorian State-Local Government Agreement, with a new Cabinet process to assess impacts on local government of new or revised roles and responsibilities.

We look forward to working collaboratively with councils again in 2015.

December issue of CiVic out now

The December edition of CiVic Magazine is now available and has been sent to all councils.

This edition features a range of great local government stories, including an in-depth feature about the MAV’s Casserole Club pilot program.

In exciting news, CiVic will increase to four editions in 2015, with the first edition published in early March. Advertising and content deadlines are available on our website.

Story ideas can be sent direct to our editor, Kristi High.

Reform of Federation White Paper – New Issues Papers Released

The second and third issues papers for the Federation White Paper Review process were released last week. The papers examine key issues where there is considerable overlap between Commonwealth, State and local government. The second issues paper examines housing and homelessness issues, and the third examines health.

The housing and homelessness paper raises issues about local government land use planning responsibilities. The health issues paper provides a comprehensive overview of the major health policy and services issues, including some discussion on preventative health.

Councils are encouraged to respond directly to the issues paper. Further views can be sent to Owen Harvey-Beavis, and will be circulated to our Finance and Rate Capping Taskforce for consideration.

Government response to PC Inquiry into infrastructure

The Commonwealth Government has released its response to the PC inquiry into infrastructure. The inquiry made wide-ranging recommendations about the assessment and prioritisation of projects, their financing, governance and delivery.

The recommendations include a proposal that funding to other levels of government, including councils, is only provided if there is public benefit associated with the infrastructure, and where there are clear governance structures in place for the project. The MAV is in the process of assessing the implications of this recommendation on the sector.

Other major recommendations include the proposal that regional Road Funds are established – composed of states and councils – to holistically manage the roads in the geographic area. The Commonwealth’s response is cautious about the potential to establish these funds and it has not supported additional work by the Commission to further examine this concept.

Other issues within the report include the industrial relations framework for construction, data provision and analysis, and tendering and procurement processes.

For further information, contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.

Local government Annual Reporting Awards

Council Annual Reports are eligible for the MAV's Reporting Awards for the 2013/14 financial year.

Councils are requested to forward a hard copy Annual Report for the 2013/14 year to the MAV for judging. If your council only produces an electronic report, our preference is still to receive a colour printed version of the document.

We will be forming an Assessment Committee early in 2015 to judge the Awards. Reports are due by the end of January. For further information please contact MAV reception.

MAV Hardship Policy Guidelines

In October 2012, the MAV established a working group to develop a set of Hardship Policy Guidelines, intended as a resource for councils to consider alongside existing policies in the context of their particular circumstances. The Board adopted the Guidelines in December 2013.

Subsequently, the Financial and Consumer Rights Council and the Federation of Community Legal Centres suggested a number of changes to the Policy.

In October, the Board considered the suggested changes and resolved to seek feedback from council CEOs before proceeding further. Much of the feedback from CEOs suggested that it was premature to amend the Policy because there wasn’t sufficient time to test the effectiveness of the existing policy in operation.

Resolutions from the board included to reaffirm the existing Guidelines until a further review (including the suggestions of the FCLC and FCRC) is undertaken by the Working Party in the second half of 2015.

Expressions of interest for membership of the reformed working group will be called for in mid-2015. For further information, contact Steve Goldsworthy.

Consultation on building enforcement MOU begins

To provide clarity around building enforcement roles and responsibilities between councils and the Victorian Building Authority, a draft Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) has been circulated to CEOs and municipal building surveyors for comment.

The MAV is seeking comments on the MOU prior to entering into further negotiations with the VBA.

Feedback is due by Monday 26 January. Please email your comments to Michelle Croughan.

VCAT’s new approach in the Planning and Environment List

VCAT is changing its approach to listing matters in the Planning and Environment List.

On 2 February 2015, VCAT will introduce new initiating orders for all matters in the Planning and Environment List. The orders will specify the dates for hearing and any compulsory conference. The orders will also make it clear what each party or agency needs to do, and by what date. Parties will have more time to prepare for hearings, organise for witnesses or experts to attend, engage advocates, and amend plans.

To support the new range of initiating orders, new application forms for the Planning and Environment List will be on the VCAT website from 2 January 2015.

Early years capital information: final reminder

Councils are reminded to send through responses to a MAV survey that was sent last week by 22 December.

The brief survey requires information about early years capital so that we can continue to advocate for government funding on councils' behalf.

This information will better inform us so that we can progress a planned approach to early years capital investment with the new State Government.

Responses should be sent to Jan Barrett.

Regional Advisory Councils membership sought

The Victorian Multicultural Commission (VMC) has extended its Regional Advisory Councils (RAC) membership recruitment process until midnight on 19 December.

Expressions of Interest for the RAC are sought, especially from councillors and local government managers with CALD community experience, for the term commencing 1 March 2015 to 28 February 2017.

RAC members will use their knowledge and understanding of the important multicultural affairs issues in their region, to support culturally and linguistically diverse communities. RAC members are requested to attend up to three meetings per year.

For further information, contact the VMC on 9651 0651.

2015 Aboriginal Scholarship Award

There is an opportunity for councils to partner in sponsoring an Aboriginal Environmental Health Scholarship.

The Victorian Department of Health, together with Swinburne University of Technology and the MAV, have identified an opportunity for a council to partner in supporting a scholarship for an Aboriginal student to undertake a Bachelor of Health Science (Public and Environmental Health) degree commencing in 2015.

The benefits to council being involved in this partnership includes the opportunity to support the professional development of an Aboriginal community member, and increase the diversity of its workforce and its capacity to respond effectively to public and environmental health issues.

Further discussions will be required to work through the detail, however as a first step the MAV is seeking an indication of those councils interested in participating. Please forward Expressions of Interest by email to Lidia Thorpe.

In social media news...

Upcoming MAV events...

18 February

Social enterprise and economic development in local government

19 February

Social media for rural and regional councils

25 & 26 March

Smart Urban Futures


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