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Municipal Association of Victoria

BULLETIN

All your local government news this week

Issue 1055: 27 November 2015
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  • The Victorian Auditor-General's Office has released a Local Government: 2014–15 Audit Snapshot. Despite Ratepayers Victoria incorrectly criticising councils in the media for 'crying poor' and raising concerns of 'profiting from communities', the Auditor General’s report confirms that councils are responsibly allocating funds (recorded as an operating surplus) towards asset renewal works and other spending obligations. The majority of Victorian councils’ operating surplus recorded for 2014/15 was from developer contribution levies and an early payment of Federal financial assistance grants for 2015/16.
  • Following the Australian Local Government Association's recent National Local Roads and Transport Congress, Minister for Major Projects, Territories and Local Government, Paul Fletcher, issued an opinion piece to ALGA members stating the importance of local government. He outlined reasons why he wants to build stronger partnerships between the Commonwealth and local government.
  • The No Jab, No Pay Bill was passed by the Senate and will commence from 1 January 2016. Under the new laws, parents will not receive childcare welfare payments if their children aren't immunised. Councils operating early years services also have an important role to ensure all parents comply with the State Government’s No Jab, No Play policy, which comes into effect on 1 January 2016. Before enrolling a child, early childhood services will have to obtain evidence that the child is fully immunised for their age, or on a vaccination catch-up program, or unable to be fully immunised for medical reasons.
Work has commenced on preparations for the second issuance of the Local Government Funding Vehicle (LGFV), planned for April 2016.

The LGFV was established by the MAV to provide councils with access to a cheaper source of funding, by aggregating council debt and issuing bonds. The first issuance in November 2014 was hailed as a landmark deal in Australian local government, with 32 councils accessing five and seven year loans.

The second issuance is expected to be longer term, possibly 10 years, dependent upon market conditions. Councils interested in participating should contact Cameron Spence.

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The MAV has emailed all councils for feedback on our draft submission in response to the draft Sustainability Fund Priority Statement.

The Priority Statement sets out the State’s strategic priorities in terms of future allocation of accrued landfill levy funds. There is close to half a billion dollars currently sitting in the fund.

The MAV draft submission calls on the State to:

  • Provide detailed annual reporting of Sustainability Fund income and expenditure
  • Ensure that all income into the Sustainability Fund from a given year is expended within the next two years
  • Direct at least 50 per cent of all Sustainability Fund expenditure toward waste management and resource recovery.

Councils are asked to provide feedback on these points and on our submission more broadly to Claire Dunn by COB 11 December.

The MAV has circulated a survey to our members seeking feedback on the Plan Melbourne Refresh. We urge all councils to participate, with responses due to the MAV by 1 December. The information from the survey will be used to inform a sector submission on the discussion paper, specifically:
  • The level of support for each concept
  • How it can be delivered and implemented through Plan Melbourne 2016
  • Resources required to undertake the tasks
  • Lessons and opportunities from the Metropolitan Planning Authority subregional planning process and Infrastructure Victoria.

Using your feedback, we expect that our draft submission will be circulated to councils and planning directors in December for feedback.

Wednesday (25 November) marked the beginning of the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign, with councils showing their support for the eradication of men’s violence against women.

Many councils held White Ribbon events, and the MAV President and staff participated in the Walk Against Violence in Melbourne’s CBD.

The State Government's new campaign Victoria Against Violence also launched and will see prominent landmarks including Parliament House ‘go orange’ to support violence prevention.

Victoria Against Violence also includes a Clothesline Project on the steps of Parliament (pictured) - a visual display of 200 t-shirts, supplied by Women’s Health in the North, to raise awareness about family violence. The t-shirts have heartfelt messages inscribed on them, telling the stories of real survivors and highlighting the impact of family violence.

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Local Government Preventing Violence Against Women

The MAV, in partnership with Our Watch and the City of Melbourne, is holding a Local Government Preventing Violence Against Women forum on 16 December.

Special guests include Minister for Women and Prevention of Family Violence, Fiona Richardson; Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty (pictured); and City of Melbourne CEO and Male Champion of Change, Ben Rimmer.

Prevention projects from Whittlesea, Macedon Ranges, Maribyrnong and Darebin councils will be showcased at the event, along with initiatives from the Pheonix Youth Centre, and Great South Coast councils.

Attendees will also be given an overview of the world-first framework: Change the Story – a shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children developed by Our Watch.

The event will be held at the Melbourne Town Hall, 90-120 Swanston Street from 9am-4.15pm.

Registrations can be made online.

IWC scholarships

The International WaterCentre (IWC) is offering a partial scholarship ($7,000 for the Master of Integrated Water Management at The University of Queensland; and $2,000 for the Graduate Certificate in Water Planning at Griffith University) to every self-funded student commencing in Semester 1, 2016.

Expressions of interest close on 31 January. For further information, contact IWC via email or on 07 3014 0200.

Women's leadership

Nominations for the 2016 Australian Awards for Excellence in Women’s Leadership will close on 27 November.

The awards recognise the contribution of individuals in elevating the visibility and importance of Australian women receiving equitable access to higher levels of leadership across all industries and organisations over the previous 12 months.

Winners will be announced in February.

  • The Victorian Ombudsman has released a report about reform of political donations laws.
  • A comprehensive review of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 is underway. A series of papers exploring a broad spectrum of rental housing issues will be released. The first issues paper Security of Tenure is now open for consultation with stakeholders and members of the public. Feedback can be provided by 21 December. Register to have your say and receive updates on the review.
  • The State Government has released the terms of reference for the Forest Industry Taskforce that will provide recommendations about the future of the timber industry.
  • The Federal Government has launched a Melbourne-based Australian Institute for Disaster resilience, which provides a cutting edge approach for the delivery of emergency management education, training and professional development for a stronger emergency management sector.
  • The State Government has released a regional public transport Consultation Report, which provides a snapshot of feedback from recent Regional Network Development Plan consultation sessions across Victoria.

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