Issue 1000:                                                 Week ending 17 October 2014

Local Government Funding Vehicle
MAV LEAP Procurement Development Program
Local Government Electoral Review: submission
Summer fire campaign and social media for emergency situations
Enough Pokies campaign launch
Recommended legislative changes for swimming pools and spas
Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) tables Heatwave Report
Constitutional Values Survey
Organic Resource Recovery Strategy
'Seedlings' project wins Premier's Community Sustainability Award
Major reforms recommended for infringement notices
Racism. It Stops With Me: merchandise
Shop, store, cook and eat safe
Tidy Towns winner
My Smart Garden website
In social media news...

Local Government Funding Vehicle

The MAV’s new Local Government Funding Vehicle (LGFV) is close to issuing its first public bonds to help councils access cheaper borrowing rates.

Last week Moody’s Investor Services announced an Aa2 rating for the LGFV and noted … 'the very strong credit quality of participating councils and the credit enhancement mechanisms included in the LGFV’s structure'.

The funding vehicle is an important long-term step for local government to pool council debt requirements and deliver significant cost savings. Thirty councils will participate in the inaugural LGFV bonds issuance to raise combined borrowings in excess of $200 million.

MAV LEAP Procurement Development Program

This week we launched MAV LEAP, a low-cost ongoing continuous improvement procurement development program available to all Victorian councils. MAV LEAP uses real data and evidence to improve the procurement capability and performance of councils, and enables structured collaboration between councils and across the sector.

Benefits for participants include the ability to monitor compliance with policy and probity performance, and visibility of category and contract savings opportunities.

A briefing session will be held on 31 October from 2pm-4pm at the MAV office, Level 11, 60 Collins St. RSVP via email by 28 October. For further information, contact Cameron Spence on 9667 5554.

This program is just one of the many great achievements of MAV Procurement since 2009. This year we celebrate five years’ operation, having conducted 42 tenders that Victoria’s 79 councils participated in more than 1,500 times. This has achieved time and cost savings by combining councils' purchasing power.

Local Government Electoral Review: submission

There is only one week left to contribute to our submission to the Local Government Electoral Review.

We have prepared a draft report on the 55 recommendations, on behalf of the sector. Our report includes a proposed position and comments on each recommendation, along with our submission on the earlier Discussion Paper.

An email has been sent to all council CEOs inviting them to submit council views to assist our feedback. Comments will need to be received by 20 October and can be emailed to Steve Goldsworthy.

Councils can submit a response directly to LGV if they choose by 3 November.

Summer fire campaign and social media for emergency situations

The 2014/15 Summer Fire Campaign Briefing, held this week, was attended by council communication and emergency management officers from across the state.

Presentations focused on community emergency management planning, the research focus of the Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC, the seasonal bushfire outlook, and an insight into the operations of the State Control Centre.

Communications staff can still sign up to attend our social media for emergency situations workshop being held at the MAV on 30 October.

The session will show attendees how to reach communities during emergencies while protecting your council’s reputation. It shares lessons from the Tasmanian bushfires and Hazelwood Inquiry findings.

Only 30 places are available, register by Monday 27 October.

Enough Pokies campaign lauch

The MAV is partnering with councils, the Salvation Army and the Inter-Church Taskforce on Gambling on the Enough Pokies campaign, which calls for better protection for vulnerable communities from inappropriate placement of pokies machines.

Each year, over $2.5 billion is lost in pokies across Victoria. Pokies machines are concentrated in areas of social and economic disadvantage. Those who can least afford to carry this burden are being targeted by big operators.

The campaign seeks simple changes to the approval system that currently favours the applicant, so that instead it puts the best interests of communities as the priority.

At the launch on Thursday, Monash Mayor, Cr Geoff Lake said information kits would be sent to all participarting councils, and he urged councils to seek commitments from state election candidates for pokies reforms sought by the Enough Pokies campaign.

You can keep up-to-date with the campaign via Facebook and Twitter

MAV President, Cr Bill McArthur at the launch.

Recommended legislative changes for swimming pools and spas

Deputy State Coroner Iain West this week handed down his findings and recommendations following an inquest into the 2008 drowning of a child in a private swimming pool.

The issues relate to pool and spa fencing standards and obligations, the roles and responsibilities of the property owner, the builder, the building surveyor, councils and real estate agents. The Coroner recommended the State Government consider changes to legislation including:

  • Registration of all private pools and spas on a statewide pool register
  • Fencing inspections every three years and prior to sale or rental
  • Uniform fencing standards regardless of the date of pool or spa construction.

The MAV is generally supportive of the recommendations proposed by the Coroner to improve swimming pool and spa regulations, and boost education for pool owners. We hope to work collaboratively with the State Government, Life Saving Victoria, the building industry, the Swimming Pool and Spa Association, and Consumer Affairs Victoria to further work through the Coroner’s recommendations.

The MAV encourages members to support KidSafe Victoria’s current initiative Close the Gate on Backyard Pool Drowning. The campaign forms part of the government's 'Play it Safe by the Water Campaign'.

Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO) tables Heatwave Report

The VAGO audit examined whether the State’s heatwave framework, which is consistent with international better practice, has been effective in reducing the impact of extreme heat on public health.

It found that while implementation of the framework and the collective efforts of all agencies contributed to reducing the impact of extreme heat in the 2014 heatwave, there are shortcomings that need to be addressed. VAGO made eight recommendations directed at Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) and the Department of Health. These include that EMV:

  • in working with appropriate agencies, clarifies the control and other roles and responsibilities for heatwave arrangements; and, importantly for councils
  • in developing the new emergency management planning legislation, clarifies the role of municipal councils and includes a quality assurance mechanism for municipal emergency management planning.

For more information, contact Emma Lake.

Constitutional Values Survey

The biennial Constitutional Values Survey, undertaken by several universities since 2008, has been released. The survey measures community attitudes to our current system of government, including the levels of trust in each tier of government, whether the system should be reformed, and the satisfaction with democracy in Australia.

The survey shows that local government is the most trusted level of government in Australia, with 58.9 per cent of survey respondents having confidence and trust in local government. The corresponding findings for the Commonwealth and the states are 52.5 per cent and 54.5 per cent.

The survey also finds that a majority of respondents support reforms to the three-tiered system of government in Australia. While there is a clear majority supportive of change, no majority exists on what reforms should be made to the structure, with the most supported reform the establishment of a regional level of government (41.2 per cent) and the abolition of local government (35.9 per cent) having minority support.

Organic Resource Recovery Strategy

Sustainability Victoria (SV) has released the draft Victorian Organic Resource Recovery Strategy for online comment.

The draft strategy proposes a 30 year vision for organics recovery in Victoria, a 10 year strategic outlook, and articulates a five year action plan.

SV is seeking comments on the draft strategy’s strategic directions and actions. Feedback can be provided online once you have registered.

This is the second and final consultation phase for this project. Online consultation will close at 5pm on 31 October.

'Seedlings' project wins Premier's Community Sustainability Award

A joint project by Knox City Council, Alpine Shire, City of Melbourne, City of Port Philip and Yarra Ranges Council, introducing sustainability to our youngest Victorians has won the Community Award in the 2014 Premier's Sustainability Awards.

The Seedlings Early Years Education for Sustainability Framework was designed specifically to be implemented in any early-learning context - Maternal and Child Health, Playgroup, Family Day Care, Long Day Care, Preschool or Integrated Service under any management structure.

The Seedlings approach was tested by 60 services with representation from all service types and management structures across the five councils. These pilots have created wonderful opportunities for children, their families and the services themselves to define what sustainability means to them and their community.

Major reforms recommended for infringement notices

The Sentencing Advisory Council has recommended significant reforms to the systems for issuing and enforcing fines and infringement penalties in Victoria.

Many of the recommended reforms in the report are intended to reduce the large number of on-the-spot fines (infringement notices) that remain unpaid each year, including those issued by local government. The Council found that each year, over 700,000 of the infringement notices issued by agencies such as police and local government remain unpaid.

The report calls for stronger enforcement options for people and companies who can afford to pay but refuse.

In the five years to June 2013, local government issued 6.7 million infringement notices, mostly parking infringements, accounting for about one-third of the total number of infringement notices issued in Victoria for that period.

The MAV is represented on the Infringement System Advisory Committee, which is supporting the implementation of the Fines Reform Act.

Racism. It Stops With Me: merchandise

The Australian Human Rights Commission is updating its campaign posters for the Racism. It Stops With Me initiative.

They have put a call out for people to tell them who they want to see pledge support for It Stops With Me. Anyone who sends through a suggestion will be in with a chance to win a merchandise pack, including a new campaign mug.

For further information, or to submit a suggestion, email the Commission.

Shop, store, cook and eat safe

The Department of Health has launched a new animation ‘Shop, store, cook and eat safe’ that illustrates the importance of food safety in the home.

Food poisoning can be serious for unborn babies, young children, older people, and people with conditions that weaken their immune systems - but there are easy steps we can all take to prevent getting sick.

The animation demonstrates the importance of keeping bacteria away by shopping, storing, cooking and eating safely. It is also available in Arabic, Vietnamese and Simplified Chinese.

Tidy Towns winner

The MAV would like to congratulate the Beechworth community in the Indigo Shire for winning this year’s Tidy Town of the Year at the Keep Australia Beautiful Victoria (KABV) Tidy Towns – Sustainable Communities Awards 2014.

Some of the projects that helped Beechworth secure the win included developing a guide to encourage buying fresh food from local growers and the refurbishment of the Crossley engine which powered the town from 1926-1946.

The awards recognise and celebrate positive actions taken by regional communities to protect and enhance their local environments.

Beechworth will represent Victoria at the Australian Tidy Towns Awards next year to be held at Sheffield, Tasmania.

My Smart Garden website

Hobsons Bay, Moonee Valley and Maribyrnong City Councils launched a My Smart Garden website earlier this month.

The website is a resource for all urban gardeners looking to grow their own food, create natural shade or just make their backyards more sustainable.

It contains a wealth of information to help all green-thumbs and would-be green thumbs across the inner west.

The My Smart Garden program has been running for three years, beginning as a small initiative that has grown into an important part of the three council’s environmental strategies, and has more than 1200 members.

The website will provide a boost to an already successful initiative.

In social media news...

Upcoming MAV events...

23 October

MAV Annual Conference and Dinner 2014

24 October

Evaluation and negotiation in LG

29 October

MAV Age-friendly Communities and Local Government National Conference


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