In this issue:                                                                    February, 2015

MAV welcomes PC recommendations on kindergarten funding
Meeting with Minister Mikakos
MAV Capital Advocacy Plan

Home and Community Care transition
MAV Aboriginal Employment Project e-bulletin
Online local government resource for achieving social cohesion

Cultural Diversity Week
New outdoor smoking bans for childcare centres, kinders and schools

Country of origin food labelling survey
School crossing supervisor campaign
Central enrolment project: update

Early Childhood Agreement for Children in Out of Home Care
Family violence clause: Vic councils leading the way
Commonwealth to consult further on Family Day Care
Social Policy staff update
Community Development: Harvesting Community Strengths

MAV welcomes PC recommendations on kindergarten funding

The MAV has welcomed the recommendations for continued Commonwealth funding to 15 hours preschool, as outlined in the Productivity Commission (PC) inquiry into Childcare and Early Learning, released last week.

Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison has outlined the Commonwealth Government's intent to listen to the community as it formulates its response.

The report has recognised that universal access to preschool in the year before a child starts primary school is a key measure for ensuring successful learning and development in the early years. We particularly welcome the Commission’s recommendation that Federal Government funding for early childhood education and care should be combined and directed towards three priority areas, including the kindergarten universal access program.

We will further examine the broader recommendations related to early childhood education and care, follow up with the Government, and will keep councils informed of our advocacy progress. For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves.

Meeting with Minister Mikakos

On 13 February, the MAV had a very productive meeting with Minister for Families and Children and Youth Affairs, Jenny Mikakos, who offered to establish quarterly meetings going forward.

Minister Mikakos indicated that she values the contribution councils make to the planning and provision of universal services, as well as the support provided to vulnerable children, families and young people.

In line with the State Government’s Call to Parties commitment, it was also agreed to align sector advocacy with the State to the Commonwealth around ongoing funding for 15 hours of kindergarten, and the priorities Victoria would like considered by the Federal Government in the forthcoming ’families package’.

Please see our website for more information on 15 hours of kindergarten.

MAV 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.

Home and Community Care transition

Following the State election, the MAV was pleased to confirm that the Victorian Government will continue to manage the HACC program in 2015/16. This delays by one year the transition to the Commonwealth taking over responsibility for HACC services provided to those aged 65 years and over as part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) agreement.

The MAV has advocated for the State to retain management and resource allocation responsibilities for HACC services in an ongoing capacity, and these discussions continue with both the Victorian and Federal Ministers. However, the State’s continued involvement for 2015/16 means that councils will have one agreement for their HACC services with the new State Department of Health and Human Services from 1 July 2015 until 30 June 2016.

Councils also don’t need to make any decisions about the HACC program for their 2015/16 budgets, as stability in the current arrangements has been agreed with the Victorian and Commonwealth Governments for at least the next three years.

These are positive outcomes to ensure service continuity for HACC clients and maintaining the strengths of Victoria’s current system. The MAV has also developed materials to examine options for councils’ continued involvement in HACC. These will be explored further with councils during 2015, and Allan Bawden (consultant to the MAV) and Derryn Wilson (MAV) are available to visit individual municipalities or groups of councils who wish to explore their role and models of provision further.

MAV Aboriginal Employment Project e-bulletin

The first edition of the MAV Aboriginal employment e-bulletin for 2015 is now available.

It provides an update on the local government Aboriginal employment framework, and current news and events relevant to Aboriginal employment and engagement.

For more information or to subscribe, contact Lidia Thorpe. See more of the MAV's work on Aboriginal employment on our website.

Online local government resource for achieving social cohesion

The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG), appointed by the Australian Human Rights Commission, is currently in the drafting stage of an online local government resource for achieving social cohesion.

The resource aims to assist councils to prevent and respond to racism and intercommunity conflict as part of the National Anti-Racism Strategy.

ACELG received a great response from councils regarding their initiatives and is now keen to hear from any councils who have formally evaluated any programs, projects, or initiatives they have implemented.

To respond, or for further information, email the ACELG.

Cultural Diversity Week

Councils are encouraged to get involved in Cultural Diversity Week this year, which provides an opportunity for all Victorians to celebrate our rich cultural, linguistic and religious diversity. The week will run from 14-22 March, and coincides with the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 21 March.

Hundreds of events are scheduled to take place across Victoria. These events provide a great opportunity for Victoria’s multicultural and faith-based groups to join together with the broader community to celebrate diversity, and promote mutual understanding and respect.

Cultural Diversity Week also includes Harmony Day on 21 March where organisations can hold an event ranging from a morning tea to a large festival, and A Taste of Harmony where colleagues are encouraged to share food form their cultural background, which can be held at any stage during the week from 14 March.

You can register your Cultural Diversity Week event online. More information about our multicultural work is available on our website.

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.

Country of origin food labelling survey

As one of its election pledges, the Victorian Government has made a commitment to examine the enforcement of country of origin labelling, particularly in relation to fresh produce.

The Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) is proposing to undertake a survey of Victorian fresh produce retail businesses to assess the overall level of compliance.

This research and analysis will enable the government to consider what steps it will take to improve compliance labelling requirements. The MAV is liaising with DEDJTR and DHHS about this work. For further information, contact Rosemary Hancock.

School crossing supervisor campaign

The City of Boroondara is running a campaign to recruit more School Crossing Supervisors, and has created a range of targeted videos that other councils can access.

So far the campaign has been a great success, with 21 new recruits in 2014 compared to six recruits in the previous two years. There has also been a substantial amount of media interest in the campaign.

The videos have also been subtitled in Chinese, Greek, Italian and Vietnamese to promote the role as a way to connect communities. The videos are available on YouTube.

If your council is interested in using the videos in your municipality, please contact Kelli Browne.

Central enrolment project: update

Our central enrolement project is now progressing, with analysis of the 77 councils who responded to the survey indicating that central enrolment has a high profile across local government. There are 49 central enrolment schemes in place across Victoria, and a further 20 councils indicated interest in setting up central enrolment.

The next phase is now commencing with five councils trialling either setting up or enhancing their schemes to ensure more equitable access for vulnerable children. A revised version of the MAV Central Enrolment Guide is also being developed with input from the survey results and the trials.

The MAV presented to the Project Advisory Group on 10 February. This group includes representatives from four councils – Boroondara, Kingston, Geelong and Melton.

A further Communique about the project is planned for early March and will include the survey analysis.

For further information, contact Jan Barrett.

Early Childhood Agreement for Children in Out of Home Care

Further to the email sent out in December 2014 regarding the statewide implementation of the Early Childhood Agreement for Children in Out of Home Care (the Agreement), councils should have been contacted by your DET Regional Managers Access, Participation and Performance (MAPPs), and been provided with the number of children in OoHC for your municipality.

Access to this information will enhance the capacity of councils to plan and work more closely with government departments and agencies to ensure that children in out of home care are accessing early years services.

The provision of this information must be done with strict compliance with DHHS policies and guidelines. As part of the process and roles and responsibilities under the Agreement, council contacts may receive requests from the CPS Case Manager for assistance in supporting a child in OoHC to access early years services in that municipality.

In order for the process to work and to understand whether council contacts are actually receiving requests for assistance, the council contact will be asked to keep a simple record of the number and types of requests, and provide it back to the MAPP on a quarterly basis. Regional MAPPs are responsible for reporting back to the Central Implementation Group (CIG). A template has been developed and approved by the CIG and will be provided to the council contact by the DET MAPP. It is important to note that councils are only being asked to report on any requests for assistance they receive from CPS – not report on every child in their municipality in OoHC.

The process of implementing the Agreement is a highly collaborative one across local government, DET, DHHS, and with service providers and carers to support children in OoHC accessing and participating in early childhood services.

The MAV will continue to update councils as the outcomes of the Out of Home Care Central Implementation Group become available. For further information, contact Wendy Allan.

Family violence clause: Vic councils leading the way

Council CEOs will soon receive an email from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) requesting they complete a survey about implementing family violence clauses in workplace agreements.

The MAV hopes that members will support the survey as it is vital to monitor the implementation of these innovative workplace protections.

Victorian councils are leading the way in the adoption of family violence clauses with 60 already introducing the clause, providing support and protection to many employees. The Gendered Violence Research Network (GVRN) at UNSW are interested in assessing the financial and productivity costs to workplaces, and any positive and adverse experiences when implementing these new clauses.

The confidential survey does not ask about individual experiences of family violence, and does not seek any information about an individual employee’s circumstances. A report of the findings will be made available online.

If you did not receive an email by 12 February contact Ludo McFerran. For more information about the MAV's gender equity work, see our website.

Commonwealth to consult further on Family Day Care

The MAV is pleased to inform councils that the Commonwealth has announced it will remove the requirement that children of Family Day Care (FDC) educators cannot attend other FDC facilities.

The removal of this rule will allow for further consultation with council-operated FDC services. The other three rules remain in place and improve transparency, strengthen child safety, and apply conditions across the states, which are broadly supported by the FDC sector.

This announcement follows strong advocacy from the MAV to the Prime Minister regarding his announcement in January that there would be changes to recent amendments to the Child Care Benefit (Eligibility of Child Care Services for Approval and Continued Approval) Determination 2000, that imposes new requirements on FDC services.

The MAV will continue to keep councils informed of our advocacy efforts in relation to FDC. Further information about early childhood education and care services is available on our website.

Social Policy staff update

The MAV has appointed Bianca Nutt as Diversity Policy Adviser. Bianca will, in part, take over Con Pagonis’s multicultural policy adviser role but with a wider diversity brief, and more closely aligned to HACC/ageing access and equity issues given our grant funding for sector development from the Department of Health and Human Services.

Bianca started on 23 February to allow handover time with Con (whose last day is 19 March). Bianca has previously worked for the Federal Department of Immigration, State Victorian Multicultural Commission and three councils – Melbourne, Moonee Valley and Maribyrnong.

We will greatly miss Con’s breadth of knowledge and very wide professional networking, however we wish Con and his wife Julie all the very best in their many ‘retirement’ activities.

Community Development: Harvesting Community Strengths

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is holding a community development workshop, relevant to those working with communities impacted by natural disaster, particularly disengaged or disenfranchised communities.

Community development is often undertaken by social work professionals when communities have experienced significant unplanned change, or some crisis that has undermined their usual coping mechanisms.

This workshop will review strengths-based approaches, and identify structure to help bring a sense of control and optimism into communities so they can deal purposefully with future challenges.

It’s on 11 March from 1pm-6pm at the AASW Melbourne Office. Registrations can be made online.

Upcoming MAV events...

2 March

Deepening community for a collective impact

5 March

Managing built form workshop – rural and regional residential development

12 March

Local government identifying family violence


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