Issue 948:                                              Week ending 20 September 2013

Wangaratta Rural City Council dismissed
Federal Ministry announced
MAV Annual Conference
MAV Patchwork information session and extended timeline for EOIs
Melbourne’s Water Future
First Commissioner for Senior Victorians
ALGA Roads Congress
Victorian Coastal Awards and Draft Strategy
Regional Public Place Recycling Grants
Building Maintenance and Management Conference
Resilient Kids, Resilient Communities conference
In social media news...

Wangaratta Rural City Council dismissed

This Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell has today announced the dismissal of Wangaratta Rural City Council. Legislation will be introduced to Parliament to sack the council and appoint administrators until the next local government general elections in October 2016.

While we acknowledge that the difficult situation at Wangaratta has been protracted and impeded the Council’s ability to function cohesively, we do not believe sacking a democratically elected government is the optimum solution.

It is disappointing that the Minister is constrained by the legislation to either sack the whole council irrespective of whether the situation warrants that outcome, or to commence the prolonged process to remove an individual councillor where there is a case of gross misconduct to answer. Wangaratta highlights the need for the Minister’s current governance and conduct review to examine a broader range of options that allows for a more tailored solution depending on the particular circumstances.

This week we also had our regular meeting with Minister Powell where we discussed the governance and conduct review, the electoral review, the Victorian State-Local Government Agreement, and costs containment. We also spoke about performance reporting and an expected reduction in reporting requirements for councils; and raised the uncertainty of both Regional Development Australia, and home and community care funding. We have requested that the Minister advocate on behalf of local government to the Federal Government to help to resolve these issues.

Federal Ministry announced

This week Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the new Federal Ministry. Governor-General Quentin Bryce swore in the new ministerial team today. In releasing the details, Mr Abbott said that he had reorganised some portfolios and simplified the names and roles. It has been reported that this downsizing may be mirrored in public service agency roles.

A number of previous Ministerial responsibilities are not included in the newly named portfolios including local government, science, climate change, disabilities, aged care, higher education, youth, early childhood, workplace relations, mental health and water. However, the administrative arrangements have today been  released and confirm that the Infrastructure and Regional Development portfolio will encompass local government; Education will include youth affairs, early childhood and childcare; Environment will include population policy, renewable energy, climate change and water; while Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield will have responsibility for disability and aged care.

New portfolios of interest to local government, and their Ministers include:

  • Warren Truss: Deputy Prime Minister; Infrastructure and Regional Development
  • Greg Hunt: Environment
  • Christopher Pyne: Education; Leader of the House
  • Kevin Andrews: Social Services
  • Malcolm Turnbull: Communications

MAV Annual Conference

A signature event on the MAV calendar, the Annual Conference and Dinner will be held on 24 October at the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins. This year we will explore current issues faced by councils in the post-election climate and hear from inspirational speakers who will share their knowledge in the areas of policy and reform, emergency management, employment, change management and environment.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Natasha Stott Despoja, former leader of the Australian Democrats and political commentator
  • Jeff Kennett, former Victorian premier and political commentator
  • Leah Armstrong, CEO, Reconciliation Australia
  • Lucy Manne, Australia Youth Climate Coalition
  • Hon Matthew Guy, Minister for Planning
  • Walkley Award Winning First Dog on the Moon
  • Leah Waymark, general manager – corporate relations, Metro Trains Melbourne

Our guest speakers will stimulate discussion, draw on the diversity of work the sector is involved in and address challenges faced by local councils.

MAV Patchwork information session and extended timeline for EOIs

Thank you to the councils that have already expressed interest in joining the second stage of the Patchwork roll-out, as detailed in last week’s bulletin.

An information session for interested councils will be held at the MAV from 2 pm – 3.30 pm on Friday 27 September with Dominic Campbell, Director of FutureGov. Register now.

We have therefore extended the timeline for councils to express interest in participating in the second stage until Friday 4 October.

Stage two will commence in November with an initial combined session for all the councils participating – dates will be advised shortly.

For further information contact Clare Hargreaves.

Melbourne’s Water Future

The Office of Living Victoria (OLV) has released Melbourne’s Water Future, a draft whole-of-water-cycle strategy for Melbourne, which has a greater emphasis on local water supplies such as rainwater, stormwater and wastewater. Further strategies will be developed for major regional centres, with work on Ballarat’s Water Future already underway.

Implementation of the strategy will affect metropolitan councils’ land use planning, stormwater and flood mapping. A key outcome of the strategy is that councils, with initial funding support from OLV, will be asked to develop local water cycle plans. These plans will include goals for reduced use of drinking water, reduced wastewater to treatment plants, increased use of alternative local water sources, and reduced peak flows and pollutants in waterways. OLV will work with five metropolitan councils and the MAV to produce demonstration local water cycle plans in the strategy’s first year.

The MAV has prepared a draft submission and distributed it to councils for feedback. It raises three key implementation challenges for the strategy:

  • the need for a new revenue stream for councils to fund higher Integrated Water Cycle Management (IWCM) asset lifecycle costs
  • the need to develop a suite of tools or delivery pathways to IWCM that accommodate the diversity of the local government sector, and
  • the need to distinguish between local community benefits, water corporation benefits and broader statewide benefits, to provide for an appropriate basis for apportioning costs of IWCM infrastructure.

Councils are asked to provide feedback by 26 September and nominate a point of contact for the MAV to liaise with directly during the strategy's implementation.

The MAV continues to represent councils on the OLV Local Government Taskforce. A specific consultation event will be held for councils in November, with a focus on project implementation. Further details will be circulated when they are available.

For further information, or to provide feedback on the draft strategy contact James Cleaver.

First Commissioner for Senior Victorians

The Minister for Ageing, David Davis last week announced the appointment of Victoria’s first ever Commissioner for Senior Victorians, Gerard Mansour.

Mr Mansour has been a strong public advocate for the needs of senior Victorians, including those who are marginalised or have special needs. His new role is to promote an age-friendly society and enhance community participation by senior Victorians.

This appointment is in response to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Opportunities for Participation for Victorian Seniors.

The Commissioner will chair a new ministerial advisory committee for senior Victorians which will prepare a whole-of-government action plan, detailing new strategies and actions to promote community participation of older people and coordinate plans across Government.

ALGA Roads Congress

This year’s National Local Roads and Transport Congress will take place from 12 to 14 November in Alice Springs.

The ALGA will invite federal Ministers with responsibility for local roads and infrastructure to address the Congress and outline the Coalition's policies for local government.

The new Government has committed to a National Stronger Regions Fund which will allocate $200 million a year to building local infrastructure in regional areas.

In addition, the Coalition has promised a national Bridge to Renewal Program to provide $300 million a year to spend on fixing bridges across the country, and has said that it will seek to ensure that Roads to Recovery and the Black Spot programs are continued.

The Congress will examine national transport reforms, and discuss issues such as user pay models of charging and investment in roads, facilitating greater use of higher productivity heavy vehicles, exploring freight management options, and the general funding and provision of local roads.

Victorian Coastal Awards and Draft Strategy

Winners of the 2013 Victorian Coastal Awards for Excellence were announced last week.

The MAV would like to congratulate all finalists in the awards; Wellington Shire Council, which won the coastal planning and management category for its Ninety Mile Beach Protection program; and the City of Kingston for its involvement in the “I sea, I care” program that was a joint winner in the community action and partnerships category.

During the awards event, the Minister for Environment and Climate Change also launched the draft Victorian Coastal Strategy.

The strategy includes a framework for developing and implementing coastal action plans and coastal management plans, as well as providing a coastal context for related strategies for managing catchments, planning schemes and waterways.

Comments can be provided to until Wednesday 4 December.

Regional Public Place Recycling Grants

Councils are encouraged to apply for funding under the Victorian Government’s $1 million Regional Public Place Recycling Grants program, aimed at drive reductions in littering and improvements in recycling rates.

Grants from $15 000 to $100 000 are available to regional councils, waste management groups and managers of public land to install recycling bins and raise community awareness of the benefits of recycling.

Applications close at 2 pm on Friday 18 October.

Building Maintenance and Management Conference

The third Local Government and Public Sector Building Maintenance and Management Conference will be held on 19 and 20 November at the Windsor Hotel in Melbourne.

This practical conference will cover key issues relating to the maintenance and management of local government and public sector buildings. Sustainable practices are becoming increasingly commonplace, so water and energy efficiency will feature strongly at this year’s conference.

The conference will have two speaking streams to permit wide coverage of different building types and uses, as well as general issues that will be addressed. The aim of the event is to provide practical guidance to all delegates that can be immediately used.

Resilient Kids, Resilient Communities conference

World Mental Health Day will take place on Thursday 10 October. To mark the occasion, Resilience Australia, a program of the Mental Health Foundation of Australia, and the Festival for Healthy Living by Royal Children’s Hospital are coming together to host the Resilient Kids, Resilient Communities conference.

It will take place at the Ella Latham Theatre, Royal Children’s Hospital, 50 Flemington Road, Parkville.

Aimed at health, community education and arts professionals, the conference will present best practice creative approaches to the promotion of social and emotional wellbeing with school-aged populations across Victoria.

Speakers include Megan Mitchell, Prof Frank Oberklaid OAM, Prof Rob Moodie, Emeritus Prof Bruce Tonge, The Hon. Georgie Crozier, Bernie Geary OAM, Dr Lyn O’Grady, Prof Graham Burrows, Helen Butler and Dr Beth Wilson AM.

In social media news...

  • Vegspiration, a 10-week Facebook-based initiative launched by Knox City Council and Friends of Knox Health will inspire young families to eat more veggies. Find out more here.
  • The iTree app attaches monetary value to urban canopies, and some Victorian councils are using it. Find out more here and here.
  • OurSay initiative invites communities to #AskYourMayor a question. Find out more here.
  • From the US: One public sector social media success story. Read more here.
Upcoming MAV events...

9 October

Fire ready communications briefing

24 October

MAV annual conference

31 October

Local government legislative framework workshop


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