In this issue:                                                                     March, 2015

Improved Liveability for Older People: Best practice guide and video
Universal Access to Kindergarten advocacy: councils must act now
Family Violence Royal Commission

Maternal and Child Health Data Management System
Enough Pokies reports released
MAV Aboriginal Community Development Administration Trainee
Asylum Seekers Living in the Community
Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV)
Cultural Diversity Week wrap up
MAV violence prevention booklet: international award winner
Congratulations to Karleen Plunkett
Metro and Rural Access Program continues
Update on My Aged Care and Home Support Programme

Memorial sculpture to acknowledge Stolen Generations

Improved Liveability for Older People: Best practice guide and video

A new guide is now available for councils which showcases some of the highly successful local government Improved Liveability for Older People (ILOP) projects undertaken in 2013-14. Seventeen rural councils were funded by the State Government to work with older residents in creating more age-friendly communities.

Projects responded to the needs and interests of older residents in small communities, and the flexible funding encouraged innovative ideas to address a diversity of issues. Projects ranged across arts, food, education, lifestyle, health, social connections, volunteering, strategic planning and governance. The projects also assisted councils to better understand the issues facing older people in rural Victoria.

The guide provides insights into the impact of local projects on the lives of older people. These exciting projects will be of interest to councillors, council staff, community organisations and agencies, and older people interested in creating more age-friendly communities.

To supplement the guide, the Department of Health produced a video which promotes the outcomes of the ILOP project. The video documents some of the great stories of older people involved with local ILOP projects and the role of local government in supporting the development of these initiatives.

Universal Access to Kindergarten advocacy: councils must act now

This week the MAV has again written to Hon Scott Morrison, Minister for Social Services to urge him for continued Commonwealth investment in 15 hours preschool ahead of the government's May Budget. We also urged the government to support the Productivity Commission recommendations to simplify payments for families - provided the subsidy levels enabled services in high cost locations to remain viable and affordable.

We emphasised the importance of increased subsidies for rural services and cautioned that extending support for nanny services could be costly to monitor and needed further investigation. Finally we outlined some strategies that would see a tripartite approach to service delivery that recognises the planning role of local government with better coordination between commonwealth and state government funding, and delivery roles on the ground. The MAV will consult with councils further on this approach as part of the sector's response to the Reform of Federation process.

The next four weeks are crucial to ensure children can continue to receive 15 hours of kindergarten at a fee that is affordable for families. Earlier this month the MAV circulated a briefing paper to all members seeking councils' support for our kindergarten campaign.

The MAV is in ongoing discussions with the Commonwealth to achieve this funding, and has been working in partnership with the Victorian Government on joint advocacy. We have provided a range of resources to assist councils including key messages and template materials.

We are pleased to see many councils have responded positively to our request for a united sector voice. We are now urging all councils to take up action and contact local Federal MPs and Senators, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP, Minister for Education and Training, and Senator the Hon Scott Ryan MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Education and Training, ahead of the May Federal Budget.

The central message for MPs is that we must secure an ongoing Commonwealth funding commitment for universal access operational costs beyond December 2015. Without continued Federal funding, families of 73,000 Victorian pre-schoolers will face untenable fee increases of up to 100 per cent.

For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves.

Family Violence Royal Commission

The Victorian Government has established the first ever Family Violence Royal Commission, with Honourable Justice Marcia Neave AO appointed as Commissioner and Chairperson, and Patricia Faulkner AO, and Tony Nicholson appointed as Deputy Commissioners. The Commission is due to provide its report and recommendations to the government by 29 February 2016.

The terms of reference provide scope for local government’s intersection across the spectrum of prevention, early intervention and response to family violence to be considered.

The MAV is facilitating the development of a submission, and invites interested councils to input through the established channels of the MAV Preventing Violence Against Women Network, or the MAV Gender Equity Leadership Group. Alternatively, councils can email Kellie Nagle or call 9667 5585 before the end of April.

If councils are planning on making their own submission directly to the Commission, we would appreciate being advised of this and copies being made available in due course.

The closing date for submissions is 29 May.

Maternal and Child Health Data Management System

On 26 March the MAV facilitated a forum to provide an opportunity for council representatives to see a demonstration of the new MCH client management system that is currently being developed for Victoria by DRA Computing. Information on the ‘back to back agreements’ for councils electing to transfer to the new system was presented. These agreements will be provided to councils soon for review and a commitment to participation is being sought by 24 April.

It would be appreciated if councils could get the ‘back to back agreement’ to the MAV as soon as possible. This will help with planning for implementation and the rollout of training from July. As each council commits to transferring to the new system, they will have their own implementation plan prepared in consultation with the MAV and DRA Computing.

For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves.

Enough Pokies reports released

The MAV has released two new research reports, commissioned through Monash University to help inform our advocacy approach in protecting communities from the harms of Electronic Gaming Machines (EGMs).

Building on the Enough Pokies campaign that launched last year, the main research examines the decisions made in relation to EGM applications over a six-year period. It concludes that the net community detriment tests are poorly defined and very difficult to quantify, which adds weight to our argument for legislative reform.

In the second report, the issues of maximum bet limits, community benefits and geographic caps on numbers of machines are also discussed, with conclusions supporting our call for reform.

More information about the Enough Pokies campaign is available on our website.

MAV Aboriginal Community Development Administration Trainee

The MAV has created an opportunity to increase the number of Aboriginal people in local government and contribute to our reconciliation action plan (RAP) priorities. The role of the Aboriginal Community Development Administration Trainee is to assist the MAV in delivering professional services and support to members by providing administrative support to staff in the social policy area.

The position will provide an opportunity for the trainee to learn about the different areas of responsibility of the social policy team through work placement, visiting councils, and attending council forums with social policy team members.

The MAV is committed to assisting councils to increase the number of Aboriginal people working in local government and has developed a Draft Local Government Aboriginal Employment Framework to assist councils.

For further information, or to apply for the trainee position, please contact Lidia Thorpe.

Asylum Seekers Living in the Community

On 11 March the MAV facilitated a ‘Local Government and Asylum Seekers Living in the Community’ forum. The forum attracted interest from a range of council staff including maternal and child health nurses, community workers and policy officers.

Participants heard from the Australian Government, settlement service providers, non-government funded agencies and two councils, who offered their perspectives on how all parties can work together to best meet the needs of asylum seekers living in the community. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions and network, sharing experiences and information from their municipality.

The MAV appreciates the input of all participants and presenters, in particular the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, whose Canberra representative provided updated information about this often changing space. Other presenters were Life Without Barriers, Victorian Foundation House for Survivors of Torture and Trauma, Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Hume and Greater Dandenong councils.

Information from the forum can be provided upon request by contacting Bianca Nutt.

Safe Haven Enterprise Visa

The Safe Haven Enterprise Visa (SHEV) is a new temporary protection visa introduced by the Australian Government to encourage people who arrived by boat to seek protection in Australia to work and/or study in regional areas. Applicants need to have arrived before July 2013 and, while details are yet to be confirmed, it is likely to be a five-year visa that could provide a pathway for holders to apply for a permanent visa (though not a permanent protection visa).

While 36 Victorian councils have committed to being a Refugee Welcome Zone and the MAV encourages all municipalities to embrace diversity, significant numbers of refugees moving to regional Victoria is likely to place pressure on regional councils. Information about the SHEV will be on the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s website once it is available, and the MAV will provide further updates.

The MAV has contacted all rural and regional CEOs seeking their councils’ views on their municipality opting into the SHEV program (or not) by 13 April.

Cultural Diversity Week wrap up

This month councils celebrated Cultural Diversity Week (CDW): a festival that builds on the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. This year, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, called for the adoption of more local anti-discrimination policies following the work of the International Coalition of Cities against Racism.

Their initiatives show that at a local level, it is possible to achieve significant progress in the fight against racism and discrimination. The approach is being successfully undertaken by many Victorian councils, such as Maribyrnong City Council who presented their youth projects at the Australian Human Rights Commission’s ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ reception on 10 March.

UNESCO’s theme was ‘Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today’. This reminds us that Indigenous Australians play a large role in Victoria’s cultural diversity, yet even as the first Australians, still face discrimination. Irina stated that “knowledge of history and memory of past crimes can allow us to build a future of peace, providing an antidote to hatred and prejudice”.

Details of council CDW campaigns can be provided by contacting the MAV, and the full text of Irina’s 2015 statement is available online.

MAV violence prevention booklet: international award winner

The MAV has won an international award as part of the fourth annual Avon Communications Awards: Speaking Out About Violence Against Women awards for our Prevention of Violence Against Women - Leading Change in the Victorian Local Government Sector booklet.

The booklet captures some of the outstanding work that has been achieved by Victorian councils working in the area of preventing violence against women, and gender equity more broadly.

We were one of 20 organisations from across the globe to be chosen as a finalist for the prestigious awards, which recognise outstanding communications campaigns that are helping change communities, policies, institutions and behaviours to end violence against women.

As per the Avon Foundation’s policy, the $5000 grant must be given to a non-government partner organisation. In the coming weeks we will decide how best to forward on the grant.

Further information on our gender equity work is available online.

Congratulations to Karleen Plunkett

On 11 March Karleen Plunkett, Disability Service Officer at Latrobe City Council, was one of 22 women inducted into the Victorian Honour Roll of Women.

Throughout her career Karleen has been advocating for equality of women with disability. Karleen is a member of the Victorian Local Government Disability Planners Network, Public Transport Advisory Committee and Women with Disabilities Victoria.

Well done Karleen.

Metro and Rural Access Program continues

The MAV, together with the Local Government Disability Planners Network, held a forum on Building Inclusive Communities on 26 February, hosted by the City of Melbourne for over 160 council delegates, community advisory committees, and government representatives.

The State Government confirmed that the Building Inclusive Communities program will be rolled over for a further three-year period when the current agreement concludes on 30 June this year.

Service agreements will include a provision to enable variations that may be invoked based on the arrangements agreed for full scheme rollout of the NDIS.

A new Framework for Information, Linkages and Capacity Building (ILC) formerly known as Tier 2 of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, is available online, pending finalisation to the Disability Reform Council by 24 April. This component of the NDIS will build capacity for people with disability, their families and carers, and create greater community inclusion.

For further information, contact Jan Black.

Update on My Aged Care and Home Support Programme

The Commonwealth and DHHS have reached agreement in principle for DHHS to continue to manage HACC Assessment Services (HAS) in Victoria for the next three years. Combined with the three-year period of funds stability for the HACC Assessment Services (mainly councils), this provides a good base for implementing the Commonwealth My Aged Care (MAC) operating environment in a coordinated and supported way, and building on, and demonstrating the strengths in Victoria's local place-based system and workforce.

Victoria is also working with the Commonwealth to test their information management system and operating procedures between April and June before it goes live across other jurisdictions in Australia in July. This early implementation project in the Kingston Aged Care Assessment Service catchment, with cities of Greater Dandenong, Bayside and Kingston, is the only such project in Australia so is significant nationally, but also provides learnings to share with other councils in Victoria.

All HACC Assessment Services will need to sign up to access the assessment portal of the MAC system by June in order to receive any referrals generated by nationwide publicity. Other referrals will continue in the usual way and assessments will continue to be done on councils’ client management system. However DHHS has committed Victorian HAS to be fully using MAC by July 2016, or earlier if possible. The Department is currently providing regional workshops to explain the details to HACC Assessment Services, and will be providing more information on the tasks and timelines required shortly.

The Commonwealth has also released draft consultation papers on the proposed National Fees Policy, the Home Support Programme Manual, and a Good Practice Guide on Restorative Care (including wellness and reablement). The MAV has asked for assistance from council representatives on the MAV HACC and Ageing Working Group and HACC Sustainability Group to prepare a draft response, which will be circulated to all councils for comment, prior to finalising and submitting by 15 April.

For further information, contact Derryn Wilson.

Memorial sculpture to acknowledge Stolen Generations

In February it was the 7th anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations. A number local councils participated in Aboriginal community events throughout Victoria, to commemorate this historical day for all Australians. The City of Darebin chose an Apology Anniversary luncheon organised by Link-Up Victoria, and Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency (VACCA) to publicly announce the creation of a Stolen Generations memorial sculpture that will be unveiled on Sorry Day, 26 May.

VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett spoke about the establishment of the Link-Up Victoria Award that will be presented each year on Sorry Day to individuals, communities, and local councils who have demonstrated a strong commitment to local Aboriginal communities and Stolen Generations. The Award was created by Link-Up Victoria to encourage councils who maintain meaningful engagement with their local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and are then able to create significant partnership opportunities that benefit the wider community. For more information, contact Bev Murray from VACCA on 9470 3666 or 0402 095 567.

Upcoming MAV events...

23 April

Company Directors Course

7 May

Demystifying local government finance & the new reporting framework

8 May

Creating accessible documents in Word and PDF


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