Governance Practice Note on special committees
Minister for Local Government, Jeanette Powell has announced the release of a new Governance Practice Note aimed at cutting red tape imposed by councils on volunteers who manage public facilities such as halls, recreation and reserves, and undertake business promotion campaigns.
The practice note recommends councils adopt simplified requirements for members of committees or managers of public facilities and:
exempt volunteer non-councillor members of such committees from submitting six-monthly private interests returns
require only name, address, email and telephone contact details of committee members, and
allow tenant sporting clubs or community organisations to nominate representatives to serve on committees of management, consistent with historical practice.
It is important to note that the red tape referred to by the Minister relates to obligations imposed by the Local Government Act and that councils are constantly scrutinised and criticised for lack of transparency, most recently in the Victorian Ombudsman’s Annual Report.
The obligation to appoint committee members rests with the council regardless of any nominating policy or protocol.
The MAV believes the practice note would have been improved considerably if there had been consultation with the sector.
HACC Call to Parties
Following input from councils, the MAV has submitted a Call to Parties regarding the Home and Community Care (HACC) program to the major parties in the lead up to the federal election. Given the potential implications of federal aged care reforms to the HACC program, the MAV is seeking acknowledgement of the role of local government as a partner in planning services for older people, a federal commitment to meet the real cost of providing services, and assurance that a national competitive tendering process will not be applied in Victoria.
Our paper indicates that each council will make an assessment of the adequacy of the design and funding of the proposed national system in determining their role into the future. The MAV position will also be discussed with State Health Minister, David Davis during August. We will publish responses received from political parties on our website and will pursue commitments with the incoming Australian Government after 7 September.
The MAV encourages councils to seek opportunities to raise the HACC Call to Parties with your local federal candidates.
Is your council VicSmart ready?
Significant challenges face all Victorian councils with the implementation of VicSmart approaching quickly. The new assessment process for straightforward, low-impact planning permit applications within a ten-day period will require careful consideration and thought. Creating a VicSmart stream may seem like the logical approach, but this may have the unintended consequence of slowing down other planning permit applications. This issue will be dealt with at the MAV Planning Improvement Conference through a host of speakers, and a specialised master class on the VicSmart process. Ensure your council knows what is around the corner and how to handle this incoming legislation. Limited places are left – register now.
Regional city and capital city publications launched
The Regional Cities Victoria (RCV) Growth Framework has been released. Developed by RCV, the organisation representing the state’s ten largest regional city councils, the framework has three core components: a resource paper explaining the economic theory underlying regional city growth; a set of growth indicators enabling each regional city to determine its current position and to set growth benchmarks; and a diagnostics tool each regional city can use to set targets and priorities.
The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors (CCCLM) has also released a report assessing innovative financing mechanisms available to help build the infrastructure Australia needs.
Prepared for the CCCLM by Erntst & Young, the report provides a summary of infrastructure financing options for local government and investigates capital city capability to fund the infrastructure required.
Key findings of the research show that:
loans supported by state governments are likely to be the cheapest form of borrowing for local government in the short and medium term
for larger borrowing requirements, public bond issuance into the Australian market could provide significant savings compared with ‘conventional’ bank debt
collective borrowing arrangements across a number of councils could provide favourable outcomes
there could be further reduction in costs for borrowing councils should the Commonwealth Government consider tax concessional arrangements for lenders.
Governance as Leadership in Local Government Conference
The MAV is excited to announce our first ever Governance as Leadership in Local Government Conference will be held at the Sofitel Melbourne on 4 - 5 September. This is an innovative conference with a difference; the event features a range of experienced speakers from local government and other relevant areas interacting in a highly-inclusive panel format.
The conference will seek to examine whether the ‘governance model’ mostly found in Victorian local government is still working - or is it an out-dated model from a different era? Is there a better way and how do we find it?
The Governance as Leadership in Local Government Conference is targeted at councillors, CEOs, directors, senior managers and strategic planning officers.
Register now or contact the MAV events team for further details.
The Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and local government
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission has released a report on the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities and how local government is integrating these obligations into core business.
A community whose local government considers human rights at all levels of decision-making is more likely to be dynamic, open, accountable and able to recognise and respond to potential inequities.
Under the Charter, councils have an obligation to ensure that all actions, policies and services are compatible with human rights; all council decisions give proper consideration to human rights; local laws are drafted, interpreted and applied consistently with human rights; and people who work on their behalf do so in a way that respects human rights.
The report provides useful examples of the work councils are doing to promote and protect human rights in Victoria.
The Municipal Emergency Management Enhancement Group (MEMEG) Annual Forum is fast approaching. It will be held in Shepparton on Friday 20 September.
The focus of this year’s forum will be promoting partnerships, collaboration and continuous improvement in emergency management planning, response, relief and recovery activities with local government.
Participants will hear from a variety of agency leaders and emergency management practitioners on recent and ongoing partnerships, best practice and collaborations.
Register now or contact the MAV events team for further details.
Strategic planning in Australian local government
The Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) has published a new paper that compares the different approaches across Australia toward implementing local government reforms, with a particular look at requirements for strategic and corporate planning and reporting.
The paper, Strategic planning in Australian local government: A comparative analysis of state frameworks, demonstrates that more work can be done to understand whether legislative provisions are leading to better strategic management within the councils and localities.
Each state requires different things from local government in terms of strategic and corporate planning. Strategic planning is concerned with influencing trends and issues in the locality, irrespective of a council’s corporate responsibilities. This is distinct from corporate planning which addresses the administration of the council's own activities. By comparing the rationale and the realities of strategic planning provisions, considerations for future policy reforms can be explored.
Free portable graffiti removal systems
The Victorian Government is seeking expressions of interest from councils wishing to receive free portable graffiti removal systems (PRS). The Government is making over 300 PRS available to councils to support community-based graffiti removal activities.
The PRS comprises of a 120 litre wheelie bin with graffiti removal products, including a high pressure washer system, protective equipment, cleaning agents and tools and fill needs where the incidences of graffiti are too small to warrant the use of a community trailer and too large to be tackled with wipes or small graffiti removal kits.
Councils can elect to make the PRS available for loan to community groups, businesses and residents for one-off clean-ups or organised clean-up days, or place the PRS with a partner community group or traders' associations for their ongoing use to tackle graffiti hotspots.
EOIs are due by 5 pm on Friday 13 September.
Hoarding and squalor publications for service providers
The Department of Health is aware of the complexity involved for councils and service providers when responding to situations involving hoarding behaviour and squalid living environments. Building service system capacity will strengthen the support available to people living in these situations and is the best way to address the challenges that surround them.
Two hoarding and squalor publications have been developed for service providers, drawing on a breadth of expertise and input from a representative stakeholder group. The publications firmly base service response on principles that support the person and their dependants, enabling and empowering them to act on their own behalf, to exercise their rights and be confident of the services and resources available to assist them.
For further information contact Alison Beckett.
Multicultural Awards for Excellence 2013
Administered through the Victoria Multicultural Commission (VMC), the Multicultural Awards for Excellence are now open. Councils that have developed an innovative project or policy that increases awareness and understanding of multicultural affairs within your municipality are encouraged to nominate for an award. Nominations close on Friday 13 September. For further information phone the VMC on 9651 0647.
In social media news...
The ABC has developed a video on the role of social media in elections. View it here.
A new Shout smartphone app has been released to encourage donations to charities. Find out more here.
Wondering what big data is and what it means for big cities? Read more here.