Issue 966:                                                      Week ending 21 February 2014

VAGO Asset Management and Maintenance by Councils report
Regulatory Impact Statement
Further councillor conduct reforms
Garage Sale Trail efforts
MAV Environment Conference update
Planning Workforce Survey Report
National Awards for Local Government
LGPro Awards for Excellence
HACC services will not be tendered in Victorian transition
Preparations for new smoking bans
What do I call the judge?

In social media news...

VAGO Asset Management and Maintenance by Councils report

The Auditor General has released his report into Asset management and maintenance by councils.

The report correctly identifies that councils are facing ongoing challenges to maintain $73 billion worth of community assets. It concludes that there is a pressing need for councils to balance asset renewal spending against a sustainable level of service delivery.

In recent years councils have significantly strengthened their capacity to manage assets. The need to accelerate progress in asset management practices must be balanced with the costs to be incurred by ratepayers to achieve this.

Victorian local government leads the nation, as confirmed through the National Asset Management and Assessment Framework (NAMAF), which was initiated by the MAV in 2010 after the success of our Step Asset Management Improvement Program.

The MAV broadly supports the Auditor General’s seven recommendations directed at councils. The current focus of our Step program aligns with the priorities identified by the Auditor General and we will continue working with councils to ensure ongoing improvement in asset management practices.

Regulatory Impact Statement

The State Government has today released a proposed Local Government (Planning and Reporting) Regulations 2014 exposure draft along with the Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) for these regulations.

The proposed regulations will replace the Local Government (Finance and Reporting) Regulations 2004, which expire on 20 April.

The regulations support operation of the proposed new planning and performance reporting framework for councils under the recently enacted amendments to the Local Government Act 1989 which come into operation on 18 April.

The MAV will prepare a response to the RIS and put it out for member feedback.

Councils have until 5pm on 19 March, to respond to the RIS.

For more information contact Local Government Victoria on (03) 9208 3631 or email Michael Concas.

Further councillor conduct reforms

Minister for Local Government Jeanette Powell last week announced further proposed reforms in relation to councillor conduct.

Under the proposed reforms:

  • Councils will be required to adopt their code of conduct within four months of an election and will include a clear dispute resolution process and penalties for any breaches
  • Councillors will undertake a mandatory induction session to clarify their role and the standards of conduct expected of them before being sworn into office
  • Councillor Conduct Panels (CCPs) will have the power to deal with serious misconduct, and if warranted, suspend a councillor for up to six months
  • The Local Government Inspectorate will take over the role of establishing CCPs in place of the MAV
  • The Inspectorate will have the power to refuse setting up a CCP if there is no evidence of misconduct.

These build on earlier announcements including additional powers for mayors and the Inspectorate.

We hope to have more details on the reforms before the legislation is introduced to parliament so we can report back to the sector.

Garage Sale Trail efforts

The MAV is proud of the amazing results of the 2013 Garage Sale Trail and looks forward to continuing a partnership with the national sustainability and community event this year.

‚ÄčThe Garage Sale Trail, which began in 2010, organises communities around Australia to hold a garage sale on the same day to promote re-use, waste reduction to landfill and positive social interactions among communities.

Since 2010 Victorian local government involvement in the trail has thrived, with numbers jumping from seven councils in 2012 to 24 councils last year.

A total of 1653 garage sales were held on 23 October in Victoria last year, with 74 per cent of sales occurring in the 24 participating council areas.

The MAV looks forward to the trail on 26 October. Councils interested in participating in the trail can contact Andrew Valder.

MAV Environment Conference update

The MAV is pleased to confirm that Clément Michel, CEO of Yarra Trams, and Lucy Manne, National Co-Director of the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) are both booked in to share their knowledge and expertise at our Environment Conference.

Clément is a passionate advocate for public transport, with a vision to develop a world class tram network that is safe, passenger-focused and sustainable.

Prior to joining Yarra Trams, Clément was an International Manager of Projects for Keolis (one of Europe’s leading public transport providers), and Managing Director of France’s busiest railway station, Gare de Lyon.

AYCC Nation Co-Director Lucy Manne is an enthusiastic climate change activist. She was the 2013 recipient of the Prime Minister's Young Environmentalist of the Year Award.

The conference will be held on Wednesday 30 April and Thursday 1 May at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre. Registrations are now open.

Planning Workforce Survey Report

The Department of Transport Planning and Local Infrastructure (DTPLI) has published a survey report on the Victorian planning workforce titled Who We Are: Victoria’s Planning Workforce 2013.

The Department’s Office of Planning Performance, in partnership with the MAV and the PIA undertook three online surveys to inform the report.

The results indicate that we are a young, high qualified and satisfied workforce with an even gender balance.

The MAV would like to thank planning directors for undertaking the survey and we hope the results are useful.

National Awards for Local Government

Nominations are now open for the National Awards for Local Government 2014.

The awards recognise the important role of local government in delivering quality services to Australians in urban and regional communities.

This year there are six categories including Disability Access and Inclusion, Youth Employment and Promoting Indigenous Recognition.

Entries can be submitted online, and before nominating please read the submission guidlines.

Entries close on 21 March. For more information, contact the Awards Team.

LGPro Awards for Excellence

The MAV congratulates the City of Casey local laws team for winning the LG Pro Excellence Award - Service Delivery Initiative for their leading work in family violence intervention and prevention.

The team, led by Rod Bezanovic, were recognised for leading innovative practice in undertaking training in order to recognise the signs of family violence.

The council used this awareness to adapt approaches and procedures to reduce the risk of violence in households where they have an enforcement role.

The MAV had the pleasure of working with Rod when he presented this approach to a local laws forum at the MAV, and at other councils across Victoria.

The MAV, along with Rod, will next be presenting at the Identifying Family Violence training to local laws officers in Traralgon on 3 April.

HACC services will not be tendered in Victorian transition

The Department of Social Services has announced there is no intention by the Commonwealth to subject the current HACC services to a competitive tendering process.

This positive step acknowledges the strengths of Victoria's system, and provides councils and service users with stability over the next five years.

The Department said existing service providers will be offered Commonwealth service contracts (probably for three years) from 1 July 2015, for the services they are providing to the 65 years and over clients - subject to formal confirmation by Ministers and Cabinet of both governments through the endorsement of the Victorian Transition Plan due in April - May 2014.

To recognise the role that local government plays in contributing to the strengths in Victoria, the Department of Health is proposing that there be an agreed ‘Statement of Intent’ between the Commonwealth, State and local government as part of the Transition Plan.

There is no intention to move the program to individualised funding for clients, and block grants and unit priced funding methods will remain. The MAV will work on the details of this statement in consultation with councils, however this will not bind any council to particular roles or actions.

Further information, contact Clare Hargreaves.

Preparations for new smoking bans

The Department of Health has developed a range of materials for councils to assist in educating communities about the new bans on smoking due to begin on 1 April.

New bans include at and within 10 metres of outdoor public playgrounds, skate parks and sporting venues during organised underage sporting events, and in the outdoor areas of public swimming pool complexes.

A letter about these materials has been sent to councils, along with samples of brochures, palm cards and posters.

Councils can display materials in council buildings or offices, local sporting clubs and other locations visited by young people and families.

Additional copies of the materials can be ordered free of charge via the online order form in the secure section of the Tobacco Reforms website.

For further information, contact the Department of Health’s Tobacco Control Section.

What do I call the judge?

A new guide has been developed by Victoria’s Law Foundation called What do I call the judge?

Now Victorians going to court, or speaking or writing to judges, will have a free, easy to understand guide about what to call any judge, magistrate or tribunal member.

The guide is a first of its kind in Victoria and will be available through the courts and community legal organisations, as well as through the foundation, online and in hardcopy.

To order a copy, call 9604 8100 or download online.

In social media news...

  • Discover the 173 Victorian Government departments and agencies using Facebook. Find out more.
  • LinkedIn hits 5 million users in Australia. Read more here.
  • From the US: How social media has evolved during emergencies. Find out more.
Upcoming MAV events...

13 March

Managing contracts in local government

20 March

Business Expansion and Retention program

30 April - 1 May 

MAV Environment Conference


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