Finance and Rate Capping Taskforce meeting
Our Taskforce held its first meeting since the election of the Andrews Government, and the agenda focussed on developing our response and approach to the rate capping policy.
The Taskforce discussed the recently announced Essential Services Commission inquiry into the rate capping framework, and the creation of a sector panel appointed by the Minister. The Taskforce was united in its concerns about the consequences of a rate cap on councils, and the potential long-term consequences of constraining councils’ revenue decisions.
In addition to the taskforce agreeing that the MAV would commission the development of an independent cost index for local government, it was agreed that a small working group would be established to provide technical advice to the MAV on the ESC process, the collection of comparative data on the consequences of rate capping on the sector, and guide the detailed response to the ESC work.
The MAV also provided the Taskforce with an update on the ALGA campaign on Financial Assistance Grants, which will attempt to build the profile of these grants in the community and with Federal MPs.
Last week Standard and Poor’s provided advice to its clients noting the impact of rate capping, which was outlined in The Age. They stated that a cap could lead to a mismatch between councils' ability to raise revenue and spending, leading to financial problems.
For further information, contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.
MAV Early Years Capital Advocacy Plan
Thank you to all who provided information to the MAV through the early years capital survey. The survey indicates that Victorian councils invest over $2 billion in kindergarten and maternal and child health facilities, and are planning to continue investing.
The 60 councils who responded also foreshadowed that a further $260 million is needed to meet growth, and at least $30 million is needed to meet new ratio change requirements for 2016.
The average age of council facilities is 35 years; most councils advised that the costs to maintain ageing facilities is of major concern for their future capital works planning processes.
The information provided is enabling the MAV to work in partnership with the Victorian Government on a strategic approach to future capital funding and planning. For further information, contact Jan Barrett.
The Future of Local Government
The 2015 MAV Future of Local Government National Summit will be held on 28-29 May.
The summit features a range of international and Australian speakers discussing key future directions and case studies on topics including collaboration and greater productivity, virtual councils, and innovation.
Case studies will be presented showcasing a number of transformative projects with councils leading the way.
It will be held at Rydges, Melbourne and registrations can be made online. A full program is now available. For further information, contact John Hennessy.
Metro and Rural Access Program continues
The MAV, together with the Local Government Disability Planners Network, held a forum on Building Inclusive Communities on 26 February, hosted by the City of Melbourne for over 160 council delegates, community advisory committees, and government representatives.
The State Government confirmed that the Building Inclusive Communities program will be rolled over for a further three-year period when the current agreement concludes on June 30 this year.
Service agreements will include a provision to enable variations that may be invoked based on the arrangements agreed for full scheme rollout of the NDIS.
A new Framework for Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) formerly known as Tier 2 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, is available online. This component of the NDIS will build capacity for people with disability, their families and carers, and create greater community inclusion.
Target consultation on the ILC is currently underway and you can submit your comments until 15 March. For further information, contact Jan Black.
Performance Improvement forum
The performance of Victorian councils in infrastructure management was discussed at a MAV statewide forum last week.
Presentations were made by representatives of VicRoads and the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator, as well as the MAV Step Asset Management Program providers. Two standout results were:
- The average score of Victorian councils in the National Asset Management Assessment Framework has increased from 695 in 2010, to 910 in 2014 (target is 1000).
- The average turnaround time for heavy vehicle operators to have access permits processed by Victorian councils has dropped from five days in March 2014, to two days in February 2015. This is the best result of any state in Australia.
For further information, contact John Hennessy.
Proposed disability parking changes
The State Government is seeking to bring the definition of a parking permit for people with disabilities into line with all other Australian jurisdictions, and VicRoads is seeking council comments.
The current definition recognises a permit ‘issued in another state or territory that includes a people with disabilities symbol’. It does not recognise overseas permits (e.g. tourists) even when they were validly issued and carry the universal ‘people with disabilities’ symbol.
The amended definition being proposed by the State is:
"Parking permit for people with disabilities means a parking permit issued by a council in accordance with the Code for the Disabled Persons Parking Scheme as published by the Corporation in the Government Gazette from time to time, or a similar permit issued in another jurisdiction, that includes a people with disabilities symbol."
If you have any comment or would like further information on the proposed change, contact Rodney Blythe at VicRoads by 11 March.
Community attitudes to privacy and data protection research
A survey by the Office of the Commissioner for Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) on Victorian community attitudes towards privacy and data protection has commenced.
The anonymous Community Attitudes to Privacy and Data Protection in Victorian Government survey is the first to explore attitudes to privacy and data protection in State and local government service delivery. It looks at community awareness of privacy rights, the levels of trust in government information handling, and attitudes towards the use of information to enable government service delivery.
The survey results will be particularly important in Victoria’s new privacy and data protection landscape, which aims to ensure that privacy and data protection obligations do not inhibit government service delivery.
Results of the survey will be published during Privacy Awareness Week (3-9 May) and will inform CPDP’s compliance, policy and data protection work. The CPDP will make the report available online.
New outdoor smoking bans for childcare centres, kinders and schools
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has written to all councils with details about implementation of new smoking bans proposed for entrances to childcare centres, kindergartens, schools, children’s indoor play centres, registered community health centres, and certain Victorian Government buildings.
Although the date for implementation of the new bans is still to be advised, DHHS is contacting affected organisations directly about the new requirements and the signage they will need to display.
Council assistance in distributing signage is being requested only in relation to children’s indoor play centres. An application process is available to councils to receive funding to support their implementation in communicating with children’s indoor play centre operators, and other education and enforcement activities.
Council environmental health units should already be aware of this information, as a series of training sessions are being arranged in coming weeks. For further information, contact the Tobacco Control Section of DHHS.
Counting down to celebrate 15 years of Harmony Day
Councils are encouraged to get involved in Harmony Day on 21 March. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Harmony Day - an occasion when the nation celebrates the richness of our cultural diversity, and respect for each and every person who calls Australia home.
Harmony Day is generally celebrated by organisations through a special event ranging from a morning tea to a large festival. No event is too big or too small.
Registrations can be made online.
Applications open for the 2015 Social Enterprise Awards
Now in their third year, the 2015 Social Enterprise Awards showcase outstanding achievements by social enterprises, as well as those organisations investing in, or supporting, social enterprise. Seven awards will be presented this year, including a new award to recognise an individual who has made a significant contribution to social enterprise.
The 2015 Award categories are: Social Enterprise of the Year (small), Social Enterprise of the Year (large), One to Watch, Social Enterprise Investment, Social Innovation, Buy Social, and the Social Enterprise Champion Award (individual).
Finalists will be selected by an independent judging panel and announced in June. The closing date for entries is 5pm, 27 March.
The Premier's Active April
Councils are encouraged to promote the Premier’s Active April to communities in the lead up to the event.
A range of promotional materials including posters, logos, and online banner ads are available for councils and community groups to use. Active April encourages all Victorians to do 30 minutes of physical activity a day during April.
For further information, contact the Active April team.
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