In this issue:                                               November-December, 2014

Merry Christmas
MAV seeking meetings with new Ministers
Vulnerable People: planning for bushfires
Federation White Paper: Housing and Health Issues Papers released
National Cultural Forum Communique
Victorians embrace cultural diversity, but more work needed
Asylum seekers living in the community
Bring your community together this Australia Day
Anti-Racism training for your council in 2015
2015 Aboriginal Scholarship Award
MAV Age-friendly Communities Conference success
Casserole Club linking volunteer cooks with older diners
Early Years news
MAV responds to Competition Policy Review Draft Report
Enough Pokies in vulnerable communities
Plan to celebrate cultural diversity in March

Merry Christmas

The MAV Human Services team would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. We look forward to working positively with you in 2015.

We have recently developed an infographic that includes a snapshot of funding wins, cost savings, partnerships, training and development, and innovation outcomes delivered for councils in 2014.

It highlights many achievements in the Human Services space including securing Commonwealth funding to ensure the additional five hours of kinder continues in 2015, and a 45 per cent increase in the unit price paid by the State for HACC services.

The MAV office will close at 3pm on 24 December, and will re-open on 5 January 2015.

MAV seeking meetings with new Ministers

The MAV has sought meetings with the Minister for Housing, Disability and Ageing, Martin Foley, and the Minister for Families and Children, Jenny Mikakos at their earliest opportunity.

In relation to Home and Community Care (HACC), the HACC Transition Agreement with Victoria hasn't been signed off, and the MAV wants to discuss with Minister Foley whether there is an opportunity to reconsider some of the proposed arrangements to be further negotiated by the new State Government with the Commonwealth.

Victoria is committed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). However as part of the national agreement about its implementation, the MAV would prefer to see HACC ‘quarantined’ in Victoria so that the State retains management and resource allocation responsibilities for services (the pre-May 2013 position). This is a preferable option for both community outcomes and local government involvement than the position currently proposed – whereby the Commonwealth will take over these State roles.

We are also aware of the significant amount of work that Victoria has done towards the transition in good faith – so if there is a realistic way of being part of the national program with Victoria still managing the allocation of HACC resources – that may possibly be a way forward.

This week the MAV was advised that the State will continue to manage the HACC program in 2015/16. This will be discussed further with Minister Foley, and means councils will have one service agreement for HACC with the new State Department of Health and Human Services from 1 July 2015 until 30 June 2016.

For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves.

Vulnerable People: planning for bushfires

The MAV encourages all councils in CFA areas to write to HACC clients’ family members/next of kin with advice about how they can assist family members by being involved in their personal emergency plans, and relocation support on days of high fire danger.

The MAV has created an updated template letter for your use, incorporating new community messaging for vulnerable people, and other resources.

The letter refers to the Fire Danger Ratings and the Bushfires: Preparing to leave early plan, which can be downloaded or included as hard copies with information to your HACC clients or their next of kin.

The Bushfires: Preparing to leave early plan is simple to work through so families know how to leave their home before a bushfire occurs. The Red Cross RediPlan is a more comprehensive document that deals with all types of emergencies and is not specific to vulnerable people.

The Vulnerable People in Emergencies Policy, finalised in November 2012, responded to Recommendation 3 of the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Final Report and related recommendations, and has developed to improve safety in emergencies, through supporting emergency planning with and for vulnerable people.

Agencies funded to provide personal care, support and case management services to people living in the community have a key role in the safety and welfare of clients. The policy utilises the existing relationships and agency role in supporting clients to improve their safety and resilience through promoting personal emergency planning.

Federation White Paper: Housing and Health Issues Papers released

The Commonwealth Government has announced a process to review roles and responsibilities of our federal system of government. A scoping paper was released in September and two issues papers on Housing and Homelessness, and Health have been released.

These policy-specific papers provide an overview of the key issues and will inform the Green Paper setting out options for reform to be published in the second half of 2015, ahead of the publication of the White Paper in 2016.

Councils are encouraged to respond directly to the issues paper. Further views can be sent to Owen Harvey-Beavis, and will be circulated to our Finance and Rate Capping Taskforce for consideration.

The Green Paper will allow the public the opportunity to make written submissions on the proposals put forward.

National Cultural Forum Communique

The fourth National Local Government Cultural Forum was held in Darwin on 8 October.

The bi-annual meeting brings together cultural policy and planning representatives from Australia’s local government associations, capital cities, Commonwealth Ministry for the Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts.

The objective is to increase the capacity of local government to strengthen arts and cultural development in their communities.

The communique is available online. For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves

Victorians embrace cultural diversity, but more work needed

VicHealth has released a report called Victorians’ Attitudes to Race and Cultural Diversity outlining its research findings from a survey.

It shows that 78 per cent of Victorians are in favour of cultural diversity, however, 40 per cent of survey respondents could identify at least one group they believe does not ‘fit into Australian society’.

The findings were released at a joint MAV-VicHealth forum called Leading and Embracing Diversity: Strategies to Reduce Race-based Discrimination at Melbourne’s Arts Centre. The forum featured a panel discussion with representatives from Adult Multicultural Education Services, beyondblue, the Centre for Multicultural Youth, and the Scanlon Foundation.

Also released at this forum was a summary report of the Localities Embracing and Accepting Diversity (LEAD) pilot program, developed by the MAV and VicHealth. The LEAD program developed and tested solutions for reducing race-based discrimination and promoting cultural diversity in two Victorian municipalities – Greater Shepparton and the City of Whittlesea.

Asylum seekers living in the community

The MAV will run a forum for councils on 11 March about asylum seekers living in the community.

Presenters will be from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (both National and Victorian offices), AMES, Red Cross, Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture, and Hume and Greater Dandenong councils.

It's not intended to be a forum to advocate on policy issues; rather, its focus will be on how service providers on the ground can coordinate collaboratively to get the best outcomes for asylum seekers living in the community within the current settings.

Further details will be available in early 2015, along with registrations opening. For further information, contact Con Pagonis.

Bring your community together this Australia Day

There are many council events held on Australia Day; particularly Citizenship conferral ceremonies. Citizenship ceremonies are an integral part of Australia Day, with many people becoming Australian citizens on 26 January each year.

A great way to welcome new citizens into the community is to include an Australian Citizenship ceremony at official Australia Day events. The Australian Citizenship Affirmation can be included as part of every citizenship ceremony and gives the whole community an opportunity to affirm their loyalty to Australia and its people.

More information is available online.

Anti-Racism training for your council in 2015

LEAD Training by the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission provides engaging, evidence-based training for reducing race-based discrimination and promoting diversity, tailored to meet the needs of your municipality.

Feedback from council participants has been overwhelmingly positive, with attendees pleased with the deeper level of analysis at the training.

To find out more, or arrange a training session for your council staff in 2015, email Jane Lewis or phone 9032 3400.

2015 Aboriginal Scholarship Award

There is an opportunity for councils to partner in sponsoring an Aboriginal Environmental Health Scholarship.

The Victorian Department of Health, together with Swinburne University of Technology and the MAV, have identified an opportunity for a council to partner in supporting a scholarship for an Aboriginal student to undertake a Bachelor of Health Science (Public and Environmental Health) degree commencing in 2015.

The benefits to council of being involved in this partnership includes the opportunity to support the professional development of an Aboriginal community member, and increase the diversity of its workforce and capacity to respond effectively to public and environmental health issues.

Further discussions will be required to work through the detail, however as a first step the MAV is seeking an indication of those councils interested in participating.

Please forward Expressions of Interest by email to Lidia Thorpe.

MAV Age-friendly Communities Conference success

Delegate feedback indicates our two-day Age-friendly Communities Conference provided an insightful view of local government activity around age-friendly communities across Australia.

The speakers covered a wide range of topics including dementia friendly communities, economic development and age-friendly rural areas, older pedestrian safety, planning for an ageing community and creating age-friendly cities in the urban environment.

Presentations are available online. For further information, contact Jan Bruce.

Casserole Club linking volunteer cooks with older diners

The pilot of Casserole Club in Brunswick (Moreland), Lancefield (Macedon Ranges) and Canterbury and Surrey Hills (Boroondara) has been operational for over two months.

Casserole project workers in each municipality have been working tirelessly to promote the concept locally to both potential cooks and diners. A feature story about Casserole Club was recently published in our CiVic magazine.

FutureGov developed the Casserole Club concept and are pleased with how the project is rolling out in Victoria. Decisions on potential expansion of the program beyond the pilot sites will be made next year.

Councils will be updated as information becomes available. To date Casserole Club has 67 cooks and 18 diners signed up, 15 meal shares have taken place and 11 recruiter organisations have joined the local projects. For further information, contact Jan Bruce.

Early Years news

The National Occasional Care Funding round has now closed and DEECD has informed the MAV that it has been well subscribed. It is anticipated that the applications will be processed quickly.

DEECD has advised the MAV that there will be changes to the reporting requirements for capital grants to align with the school capital funding reporting. The new arrangements are being trialled currently with some councils. The MAV has been advised that all councils will be informed of the new requirements once they have been finalised.

The MAV is currently undertaking a survey to refresh councils’ early years capital position to ensure we can advocate for continued government capital investment in early years, and to progress a planned approach to early years capital with the new government (as outlined in the MAV’s Strategic Plan). Surveys can be emailed to Jan Barrett by 22 December.

The MAV has also been surveying all councils about kindergarten central enrolment. The results will inform the next phase of the project – a revised MAV Central Enrolment Guide and allocation of funds to local government for new or enhanced central enrolment processes. The surveys will be analysed in January, and all councils will be provided with a summary report in February.

Councils have responded well to the Family Day Care Survey which closed on 12 December. Initial findings are that most councils who currently deliver Family Day Care will continue to do so with revised models and costings.

The implementation process for the Early Childhood Agreement for Children in Out-of-Home Care is currently underway. All council contacts and Family and Children’s Services Managers will receive an update email in mid-December.

For further information, contact Jan Barrett or Wendy Allan.

MAV responds to Competition Policy Review Draft Report

The MAV has responded to the human services provision aspects of the Competition Policy Review Draft Report, as well as recommendations that could impact on restricting councils' role in planning, and advice on the provision of alcohol. This is a follow up from our earlier response, to the review discussion paper.

There are key features of community services, such as long-term community relationships, connecting and cross-referrals between networks of services, and links to other community capacity issues that are important to the provision of services, especially for disadvantaged or vulnerable clients.

Within the report some of these issues are canvassed; however the conclusions drawn in framing the recommendations don’t necessarily reflect this complexity, nor the role of local government and the community sector in both planning and service provision.

For further information, contact Jan Black.

Enough Pokies in vulnerable communities

The MAV received a strong mandate for action from State Council resolutions which we included in our Call to Parties, to strengthen the capacity of communities to redress the burden of pokies though the Enough Pokies campaign.

A working group was established from the first roundtable to progress a campaign to support councils in representing vulnerable communities when considering gambling applications for venues, or increased numbers of machines.

The MAV was represented on the working group by Jan Black and Dr Charles Livingstone from Monash University, who was contracted to work on this campaign and provide advice on the gambling industry, VCGLR decisions and legislative reforms.

The campaign attracted financial funding from 13 councils, and the MAV hosted a campaign launch, two roadshows and seven Mayoral Roundtables at rotating councils. It also had campaign support from 40 councils across Victoria.

The final roundtable was held on 5 December. The next steps include seeking a meeting with the new Minister for Gaming, Jane Garrett to articulate the legislative changes that we seek to support councils in representing their communities.

For further information, contact Jan Black.

Plan to celebrate cultural diversity in your municipality in March

In planning your council's 2015 events calendar for the first half of next year, check out the websites for Cultural Diversity Week, Harmony Day, and A Taste of Harmony.

Upcoming MAV events...

28 January

Melbourne Water LG engagement workshop: floodplain management strategy

18 February

Social enterprise and local government forum

19 February

Social media for rural and regional councils

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