Referendum inches closer
Last week federal and state Ministers for Local Government met in Tasmania, while Premiers also met with the Prime Minister for the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting. We understand that the proposed referendum on constitutional recognition for local government was discussed at both events and Minister Albanese released a short statement confirming the Government’s continued commitment. It has also been reported that the Government has approached Tony Abbott to reach bipartisan support, and the Australian Greens this week released a statement expressing their ongoing support.
To date the most vocal opposition has come from Western Australia and Victoria, with the MAV last month writing to Premier Napthine urging a review of the former Baillieu Government position on constitutional recognition for local government.
The MAV continues to work with the ALGA and our interstate counterparts on developing a national campaign framework in anticipation that a referendum may proceed at the September federal election. A 2012 State Council resolution endorsed the MAV to issue a voluntary levy on members to contribute to a national ‘Yes’ campaign, should it proceed, and that it would be a matter for each council to determine whether or not to contribute.
This week we are writing to all councils to advise of voluntary levy amounts for individual municipalities, following the MAV Board agreeing to set contributions using a population and revenue methodology. Each council will be requested to adopt a formal position on participation in a national ‘Yes’ campaign, and to confirm whether they can provide a voluntary financial contribution. Councils in all states are also being canvassed for voluntary contributions by their state associations.
For further information contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.
MAV Local Government Fellowship winner announced
Councillor Eve Fisher from Surf Coast Shire Council is the 2013 winner of the MAV Local Government Fellowship. Eve was elected to council in October 2012, and her research project ‘Making Community Solar a Reality’ won from a field of nine quality applications.
In her application Eve argues “Community solar power is a growing opportunity for councils throughout Victoria. There are projects springing up around the country but it has been slow to be undertaken due to insufficient support and resourcing at local government level. The United States is a market leader in the provision and support of community solar initiatives and the projects are spreading fast nationwide.
The purpose of the research is to look at the options for community solar power available to Victorian councils through the three main models popular in the United States: the utility model, which helps the consumer offset their electricity costs with clean power by contributing financially to the sourcing of solar power by utility companies; a special purpose entity which uses member investment, grants and incentives to provide a return on investment and offset personal electricity use; and a non-profit model which relies on memberships, donor contributions and grants to provide a return on investment and philanthropy.
The award of $12 000 will allow Eve to travel overseas to complete her research project and report back on her findings.
National Partnership Agreement on Early Childhood Education
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) last week considered the early childhood education national partnership between the Federal Government, state and territory governments. They decided that the national partnership be replaced, succeeded by a new national partnership for 2013 and 2014. The MAV welcomes the positive outcome, in line with our letter to Prime Minister Gillard earlier this month urging the Government to continue to strengthen its commitment to 15 hours kindergarten funding through the COAG bilateral negotiations.
The new National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on Early Childhood Education will contribute $655.6 million in Commonwealth funding over the next 18 months, with a review of the partnership by 30 June 2014. The NPA will ensure service delivery is not interrupted or reduced in 2013 or 2014, consistent with all governments' ongoing commitment to Universal Access to early childhood education, including for vulnerable, disadvantaged and Indigenous children. The MAV will keep councils informed of this process.
For further information contact Clare Hargreaves.
AmericaSpeaks comes to FOLG
Since its founding in 1995, AmericaSpeaks has given citizens an authentic voice in local, regional and national decision-making on the most challenging public issues of the day. Its vision is that the public’s business will be conducted differently – that by developing a rich national infrastructure for democratic deliberation, it can provide the public with a real voice in the nation’s governance.
Through innovative tools such as the 21st Century Town Meeting, more than 160 000 people across the country and around the world have had an impact on their communities. These projects have included recovery processes for 911 in New York and Hurricane Katrina in Florida, as well as a myriad of smaller scale initiatives. Deputy Director Daniel Clark will speak at the MAV Future of Local Government National Summit on May 22 and 23 on ‘Citizen Engagement and Open Government’.
Early years assessments and ratings
The National Quality Framework aims to raise quality, drive continuous improvement and consistency in education and care services and has been in operation since 1 January 2012. A part of the Framework is a national rating and assessment process. Approved services are currently being assessed and rated against each of the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard and National Regulations. These ratings will be published with proclamation of the legislation that facilitates this occurring on 1 May.
The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) will be sending all services a letter advising of the publishing of ratings; and the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) will be sending families a letter advising of the ratings, which will appear on three websites – ACECQA, DEECD and MyChild.
Councils that have questions in relation to the assessment and ratings of services should contact the DEECD.
For further information contact Wendy Allan.
Contract management training
In partnership with PMMS, MAV Procurement is delivering a training program over April and May targeted at procurement and contract management staff. There are three different courses being held:
Contract Law and Probity Essentials for Council Contract Managers
Managing Contractor OH&S in Local Government
Managing Contracts in Local Government
There are a number of places still available for the training sessions being held in Melbourne (1 and 2 May) and Wangaratta (7 May). If you are interested in attending one of these sessions please send an inquiry through to firstname.lastname@example.org
Workplace language and literacy
On 17 May the MAV is hosting a free three-hour information session covering federal funding available for workforce planning and training, as well as services available that enhance outcomes for workforce development. This forum is designed specifically for councils’ community services, health sector service providers and HR personnel, and will provide participants with an opportunity to address workforce issues relevant to their own council.
Participants will receive a toolkit which they can use in the workplace that also provides the basis of an application for the National Workforce Development Fund, the Workplace English Language and Literacy Program and other Skills Connect funding initiatives.
This forum is aimed at council officers responsible for workforce planning/training and development and local government managers. For further information contact Isabel Osuna-Gatty.
Migrant settlement services in your municipality
On Tuesday 14 May, the MAV is hosting a two-hour information session for council officers responsible for cultural diversity planning. The focus will be on how councils can work effectively with migrant and refugee settlement service providers in their municipality. The main presenter will be the Department of Immigration and Citizenship’s Victorian Settlement Grants Program (SGP) manager.
A list of which organisations are SGP-funded to deliver settlement services by municipality is available. Register by 10 May. This session is only open to local government officers.
Victoria recognised at National Awards for Local Government
Winners of the National Awards for Local Government were recently announced. These awards recognise the great work that councils do in supporting their communities through innovative programs. Acknowledged for their stand-out contributions to their communities, Victorian councils won six of the 10 categories. Five Victorian councils were also amongst the 16 to receive commendations.
Independent judges worked through 192 entries by councils from across Australia. Victorian councils were recognised in the following categories:
Winner: Whittlesea City Council - Into the Light 2012: The Unfolding Story
Commended: Frankston City Council - Frankston Arts Centre Arts Access
Asset and Financial Management
Winner: Wyndham City Council - FieldInspect: Mobile Inspection Application
Excellence in Tourism
Commended: Towong Shire Council - Sandy Creek Bridge and Rail Trail: A New Icon of the High Country
Innovative Infrastructure Development
Winner: Northern Grampians Shire Council - Monash Steps/Stawell Steps
Commended: Maroondah City Council - Marveloo: A Unique Mobile Accessible Restroom
Winner: Yarra City Council - Follow in my Footsteps: Celebrating Aboriginal Culture in Gertrude St
Strength in Diversity
Winner: Hume City Council - Supporting Parents: Developing Children
Commended: City of Greater Dandenong - Face to Face: Unity in Diversity
Women in the Community
Small Council Winner (under 15 000 rateable properties): Northern Grampians Shire Council - From Adversity Rise Champions: The Women of Joel Joel Take Charge
Youth Engagement and Participation
Commended: City of Greater Geelong Council - The GEEYOUNG Project
An independent panel will shortly assess the category winners and determine a national winner, which will be announced in June.
Local government best practice procurement guidelines
The Victorian Government has released a new version of the local government best practice procurement guidelines.
The Victorian Local Government Best Practice Procurement Guidelines 2013 are intended for use by both specialists in the field of local government procurement and by staff who are engaged in routine procurement activities.
The refreshed Guidelines detail legislative requirements and various stages of the procurement process - planning, implementation, management, evaluation and reporting on procurement.
Following the release of the guidelines, Local Government Victoria has developed an application form for councils seeking Ministerial Approval under section 186(5)(c) of the Local Government Act 1989. The form is designed to assist prompt assessment of a council’s application by ensuring that all key information is provided.
Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy released
The Victorian Government has released a Passenger Rail Noise Policy. Passenger rail previously enjoyed an exemption from the legislation which regulates freight rail noise issues.
Councils and the MAV had a brief opportunity to provide input to the policy during August 2012, at which time, councils noted that they will face additional costs to implement this policy; and that there are no provisions for retrospective implementation of noise attenuation works by the rail operator, if for example train service frequency increases after the initial assessment.
Sports without Borders Conference
Sports Without Borders works closely with a number of Victorian councils. It is a not-for-profit organisation that provides support for young people from migrant and refugee backgrounds who are involved or want to get involved in sport.
The 2013 Sports Without Borders Conference will be held on Friday 3 May. The conference secretariat has advised the MAV that they are offering a special discount to councils - buy four tickets and get two free for members of your community. For further information phone 9320 6800 or email email@example.com.
In social media news...
More than 2 000 people have downloaded Sydney’s VandalTrak app that allows people to report and record graffiti by uploading photos from a digital camera or mobile phone. Find out more here.
According to Mashable, there are six top posts that build engagement on Facebook. Read more here.
The US Government is putting the iPhone to work. Find out more here.