Issue 920:                                                      Week ending 8 March 2013

MAV election results
Constitutional recognition
Government response to zone reform released
Strategic planning sessions
New rooming house accommodation standards
MAV Local Government Fellowship
Stronger local government revenues
Free council dam training session
Draft guidelines for Victorian traditional owner groups seeking settlement 
Victoria's new road safety strategy
Human rights reporting for local government due 15 March
Do Not Leave Children in Cars community awareness campaign
In social media news...

MAV election results

Results for the MAV elections were declared on 1 March. The following candidates were elected to the MAV Board:

  • President: Cr Bill McArthur, Golden Plains Shire Council
  • Metropolitan Central: Cr Jackie Fristacky, Yarra City Council
  • Metropolitan West: Cr Angela Altair, Hobsons Bay City Council
  • Metropolitan South East: Cr Coral Ross, Boroondara City Council
  • Metropolitan Southern: Cr Geoff Lake, Monash City Council
  • Metropolitan East: Cr Peter Lockwood, Knox City Council
  • Interface: Cr Mary Lalios, Whittlesea City Council
  • Gippsland: Cr Jane Rowe, East Gippsland Shire Council
  • Rural South West: Cr Ruth Gstrein, Corangamite Shire Council
  • Rural South Central: Cr David Clark, Pyrenees Shire Council
  • Rural North Central: Cr Rod Fyffe, Greater Bendigo City Council
  • Rural North West: Cr Gary Norton, Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Rural North East: Cr Debra Swan, Strathbogie Shire Council

At its first meeting, the incoming Board will elect two Deputy Presidents to represent the metropolitan and rural groupings of councils.

Constitutional recognition

The MAV has again this week made representation direct to Minister Powell regarding constitutional recognition of local government. To date, the Victorian Government has opposed recognition on the basis that the Pape and Williams cases do not prohibit the funding of key Commonwealth programs to councils, and the potential that re-defining the financial relationship between the three levels of government will result in a worsening of intergovernmental relations.

The position of the Victorian Government has not changed. We’ve updated the Government on the national local government position and urged them to support the collective views of the sector.

Government response to zone reform released

The Government has released its response to the Ministerial Advisory Report on the Residential Zones.  This report along with the Ministerial Advisory Committee report is available to download from the DPCD website. While we are still assessing the detail, it’s pleasing to see that the Government has given it’s in principle support to take on a more tailored approach to implementation that recognises the value of strategic work by councils. We look forward to working with the sector and Government over the coming months to test and finalise the new zone provisions and to facilitate there implementation.

Strategic planning sessions

The MAV strategic planning sessions have started this week with one in Yarriambiack and a second in Wangaratta. Councils are encouraged to come along and have a say in the prioritisation of issues for the coming year. To register contact Gavin Mahoney.

New rooming house accommodation standards

The MAV has written to Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) seeking amendments to the practice guide being developed for the new accommodation standards that are due to come into effect on 31 March. The practice guide is being prepared to assist council officers on operational matters relating to their registration of rooming houses under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008, and how they may wish to assess compliance with the new accommodation standards contained in the Residential Tenancies Regulations enforced by CAV.

As the regulation of rooming houses is complicated with multiple agencies involved, the MAV has supported the development of the practice guide to give clarity to how CAV and councils will work together. CAV has responsibility for the new accommodation standards, but it will need to work closely with councils to implement them effectively.

It is important that the guide clearly states that use of the new powers under the Public Health and Wellbeing Act are discretionary for councils, and that they do not imply greater responsibilities to councils’ registration activities than the current provisions, which require councils to register premises (not proprietors) to ensure they comply with certain disease control requirements.

For further information contact Rosemary Hancock.

MAV Local Government Fellowship

The MAV Local Government Fellowship is now open. The Fellowship, worth $12 000 is supported by MAV Insurance and the Diploma of Local Government. It allows a current Victorian councillor to undertake international research and study of a policy area significant to the local government sector.

The study grant is designed to assist with short-term overseas travel, accommodation and associated on-the-ground expenses.

There are no restrictions on the areas of research chosen, however proposals that focus on a topical issue with sector-wide applicability will be well regarded.

Applicants are required to submit a research proposal of not more than 1 500 words and should read the guidance material for details on how to apply.

Applications close at 5 pm on 28 March. Shortlisted candidates will be announced in the MAV Bulletin.

For further information contact Andrew Rowe on 9667 5549.

Stronger local government revenues

A new working paper from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) suggests how the local government sector might independently improve revenue streams in the medium to long term.

In Our Hands: Strengthening Local Government Revenue for the 21st Century, presents recent findings on the topic, fresh thinking and sound evidence about how stronger council revenues might be achieved to meet the ongoing and emerging needs of communities.

The report is written with a practitioner focus to assist councils and the sector as a whole, and covers a wide range of issues concerning property tax and other sources of revenue. A series of ‘next steps’ for the sector to consider is also included.

Free council dam training session

Councils are invited to attend a free training session on dam safety, maintenance and surveillance with DSE and SMEC consultants. The training session will include a detailed discussion about elements of the council-dam owner toolkit, followed by a demonstration at the nearby Lysterfield Lake (depending on numbers). All dam-owning councils are encouraged to attend.

The session will be held at Upwey Community Hall, 1443 Burwood Highway Upwey on Monday 25 March, from 9 pm – 4.30 pm. RSVP by 18 March to Pradeepa Adihetty on 9637 9526.

This training session is part of an ongoing MAV and DSE to assist dam-owning councils. For further information contact James Cleaver on 9667 5519.

Draft threshold guidelines for Victorian traditional owner groups seeking a land settlement

The Department of Justice has released draft threshold guidelines for Victorian traditional owner groups seeking a settlement under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010. The draft guidelines provide information about preliminary or “threshold” matters that traditional owner groups need to prepare for and address if they wish to pursue negotiation of a Recognition and Settlement Agreement with the State. Such settlements may be a means of resolving native title applications by agreement between the State and a traditional owner group, as pursued in an out-of-court setting.

The MAV will review the guidelines and circulate a copy of its response to councils prior to finalisation. As submissions need to be made by Friday 5 April, the MAV would appreciate receiving feedback from councils as soon as possible. Please email any council comments that might be included in the MAV submission to Rosemary Hancock.

Victoria's new road safety strategy

The Victorian Government has announced a new ten-year road safety strategy which includes a new grant program for councils to provide safer walking and cycling infrastructure.

The MAV welcomes the new strategy but is disappointed that the strategy does not appear to seriously tackle local road safety issues and does not include local government as a road safety partner, despite councils managing 85 per cent of the road network. These and other issues were raised in the MAV submission to the road safety strategy.

Additionally, the TAC has launched a new mass media public education campaign targeting distracted road users. The campaign highlights the dangers of taking your eyes off the road for just two seconds.

Human rights reporting for local government due Friday 15 March

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is preparing its 2012 report on the operation of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities. Each year councils are asked to report on how they are complying with the Charter through an online survey. Over the past few years all councils have completed this survey. To date only 10 councils have submitted. Councils that do not complete the survey unfortunately will be named in the report to Parliament. To ensure the sector’s 100 per cent response rate continues, councils are asked to complete the survey by 15 March.

Do Not Leave Children in Cars community awareness campaign

Kidsafe Victoria and The Lions are urging councils to install ‘Do Not Leave Children in Car’ signs in car parks as a reminder to parents and carers of the dangers of leaving children unattended.

Despite it being illegal and dangerous to leave children unattended in a car, Ambulance Victoria has attended 900 incidents in the past 12 months.

Kidsafe Victoria’s signs are available for $70 each or $60 each for orders of 10 or more. To order signs for your council area today, please contact Kidsafe Victoria on (03) 9251 7725.

In social media news...

  • The Adelaide Report It! app lets smartphone users report issues ranging from graffiti to potholes and faulty lights across Adelaide city and North Adelaide. Find out more here.
  • Australia’s youngest ever Member of Parliament shares his views on the role of social media in politics. Read more here.
  • From the USA: local government is being urged to commit to the Citizenville Challenge. Find out more here.
Upcoming MAV events...

5 March - 4 April

Strategic planning meetings

18 - 19 April

NTCA local government forest and timber industry conference

22 - 23 May

Future of local government national summit


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