15 Hours of kindergarten: funding uncertainty
Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development, Wendy Lovell, provided services with an update on the Commonwealth funding uncertainty for national preschool reforms.
In a letter that accompanied the 2014 kindergarten funding guidelines, Minister Lovell said the recent move to 15 hour kindergarten programs was part of a National Partnership Agreement between Australian states and territories and the Commonwealth.
The Agreement is due to expire in December 2014 and, to date, the Commonwealth has made no further commitment towards its five hours of kindergarten funding.
This means that the Commonwealth funding towards five hours of kindergarten programs is not confirmed for 2015 and beyond.
The MAV has written to the Prime Minister and met with Minister Lovell to discuss this issue as a matter of urgency. We stressed the importance of long-term funding certainty required for the national 15 hours reforms and outlined some of the impacts if the additional five hours of funding is not continued. The MAV has sent advice to CEOs, together with information that can be used by councils to raise the issues with Federal and State MPs and your community.
The Commonwealth has indicated that a decision about its future funding arrangements will not be known before the completion of its review in June 2014.
For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves.
National Reconciliation Week
National Reconciliation Week (NRW) is celebrated across Australia each year on 27 May-3 June. The dates commemorate two milestones in the reconciliation journey—the anniversaries of the successful 1967 referendum and the High Court Mabo decision.
It’s a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures and achievements and to explore how each of us can join the national reconciliation effort.
Many councils are planning activities to mark this special week. If you need ideas, consult your community or Reconciliation Victoria.
See the latest edition of CiVic for profiles of how local government can support and embrace Victorian Aboriginal communities.
Refugee Welcome Zones
In June, Victorian councils are encouraged to participate in Refugee Week to raise awareness about the issues affecting refugees, and celebrate the positive contributions made by refugees to local communities.
This peak annual activity is always held the week of 20 June (World Refugee Day). This year, Refugee Week will be held from 15-20 June.
The theme is Restoring Hope. In the lead-up to Refugee Week, on 2 June the MAV will host a forum on the benefits of councils being Refugee Welcome Zones.
For further information, contact Con Pagonis.
Multicultural Council meets with local government
Last month the Australian Multicultural Council (AMC) met with officers from the MAV and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA); the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government; the Federation of Ethnic Communities in Australia; and the Australian Human Rights Commission in Canberra to discuss potential opportunities for local government to assist in fostering national community cohesion and resilience.
The Chair of the AMC, Judge Rauf Soulio, and the Deputy Chair, Gail Ker, acknowledged the excellent work that has occurred nationally at the local government level in building strong and inclusive communities.
The valuable role played by councils was highlighted in the AMC Report on Multiculturalism and Social Cohesion in Australian Neighbourhoods, released in December 2013.
The AMC Board heard from each of the invited guests on the latest examples of how local government is actively working to build resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities.
It also heard about the resourcing constraints many councils are experiencing through cost shifting or a withdrawal of engagement by the Commonwealth and/or state and territory governments.
The ALGA and the MAV reinforced the critical need for stronger policy leadership from the Commonwealth on settlement planning and community relations issues arising from cultural diversity at the municipal level.
The AMC will now further consider recommendations to deliver to the Australian Government when its term ceases at the end of June 2014.
Proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975
The Federal Government wants to change the Act to remove laws which make it illegal to offend someone based on their race, arguing the laws are an impediment to free speech.
Submissions on an exposure draft Bill closed on 30 April. The MAV has lodged a submission, cautioning against any amendments to the Act that may be interpreted as giving licence to race-based bullying, particularly by individuals in positions of influence.
Family day care services
In February, councils attended an MAV-convened meeting with the Commonwealth Department of Education to discuss recent information they issued regarding Family Day Care (FDC) Services.
The key issues were the obligations of the FDC Service under the Family Assistance Law which include:
- The obligation of FDC services to make an arrangement for care as Family Assistance Law requires the service to make a written care arrangement with each family using the service
- Clarification of the FDC service operator’s legal right to set service-wide fee charging levels, including amendments to previous information on facts sheets to take into account recent, changed advice from the ACCC
- Reminding FDC services that the educator remuneration is agreed between the service and the educator, not between the educator and families.
The Commonwealth acknowledged that councils have acted in good faith about the operation of their FDC services based on previous information available to them.
While there are no changes to the underpinning legislation or policy regarding FDC, there are changes to how the service needs to operate in some areas, based on new advice from the ACCC.
For further information refer to the email advice circulated to all councils on 8 April, or contact Wendy Allan or Geoff Pawsey.
Early Years Awards
Nominations are open for the 2014 Early Years Awards.
The awards are an important way for the State Government to celebrate and recognise the contributions and achievements that services make to improving the health, learning, development and well-being of Victorian children from 0-8 years.
The MAV would like to encourage local government early childhood services to nominate for these awards, as you are a significant contributor to the lives of children in your municipalities.
For information about the awards and the nominations process, please contact Danielle Lowe on 9651 3393.
New interpreting and translating guidelines
The Victorian Multicultural Commission’s new interpreting and translating guidelines advise that online machine translation tools should not be used on council websites, as they can be inaccurate and the risk of mistranslation is high.
The guidelines advise that online machine translation tools are unable to take into account variations in dialect and language, linguistic preferences of communities, actual meaning, specific cultural references and other nuances such as politeness.
The guidelines were launched in April and have been improved to more clearly reflect current Victorian Government policy and the latest developments in IT.
A limited number of print copies are available, email Con Pagonis.
Cultural Forum Communique
The Cultural Forum is a meeting of cultural policy and planning representatives from Australia’s capital cities, local government associations, along with Commonwealth Ministry for the Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts.
A communique is now available, following the National Local Government Cultural Forum held in Brisbane on 19 March.
HACC transition: update
The MAV HACC Sustainability Group has met with Jeannine Jacobson from the Department of Health.
The group discussed a draft DH paper on managing the transition arrangements to preserve the strengths in the Victorian HACC system, and defining the roles and responsibilities as a basis for developing the tri–partite ‘statement of intent’.
The DH objective is to maximise stability for providers and clients, and to support considered and informed decision making in a managed way. The MAV has also held meetings with Minister for Health and Ageing, David Davis, and other authorities to further discuss the key items to be included as Commonwealth and State commitments, before circulating the draft statement of intent to councils for comment.
For further information, contact Clare Hargreaves or Derryn Wilson.
The MAV also welcomes the doubling of the meals price which follows many years of advocacy by Victorian councils seeking improved funding for the delivered meals service. Last week the Australian and Victorian Governments announced a $33.9 million funding boost to Home and Community Care services across the state.
Included in the announcement is that funding for meal prices has increased from $1.61 to $3.18 per meal, applicable from the 2013/14 year.
Community Safety Fund grants applications open
Victorian councils and community groups are invited to apply for Community Safety Grants of up to $10,000 to support local crime prevention initiatives.
The program can fund a range of different crime prevention projects including crime prevention awareness and education activities, and the installation of security equipment such as locks.
Applications close 5pm on 12 May.
2014 VLGMIN Forum
Planning is well underway for the annual Victorian Local Government Multicultural Issues Network (VLGMIN) Forum.
This year the forum will focus on arts and culture themes, in partnership with the Cultural Development Network and Multicultural Arts Victoria.
It will be hosted by the City of Ballarat on 30 October at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka.
Registration and program details will be available early in the second half of the year, but in the meantime please let your council’s arts and culture program colleagues know about this event and save the date.
Healthy Eating Forum
The MAV is holding a half day forum on healthy eating which will include presentations from the State Public Health Nutritionist, the Heart Foundation, and councils.
Councils will present their approaches including:
- Designing and implementing local innovations with partners
- Mapping and articulating the issues
- Engaging with major suppliers
- Developing procurement guidelines for facilities and services.
It’s on 21 May from 10am-3.30pm at the MAV, level 11, 60 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Registrations can be made online.
Planning 101 for health and social planners
The MAV, in conjunction with PIA, is offering a half day workshop on planning with a particular focus on health and wellbeing issues.
It includes an introduction to land use planning legislation, key stakeholders and decision makers, and practical advice for points of influence.
This workshop is aimed at health and social planners who wish to improve their understanding of the planning process.
It’s on 28 May from 9.30am-12.30pm at the MAV, level 11, 60 Collins Street, Melbourne.
Registrations can be made online.
Heart Foundation Local Government Awards 2014 now open
The Heart Foundation Awards recognise councils for their contribution to improving heart health and aim to encourage an ongoing commitment to creating healthy communities.
Applications close on 23 May.
The Victorian state disability plan 2013-2016 tackles barriers to economic, social and civic participation.
Councils can reduce barriers to services, employment and community participation in the context of the plan through disability action plans (DAPs). Councils are legally required to develop DAPs under the Disability Act. Further information about DAPs are available in an MAV report published following council workshops in 2012.
The Office for Disability, Department of Human Services has developed a questionnaire to learn more about people’s experiences during the life of the state disability plan. The questionnaire closes on 16 May and is for people with a disability who are over 18 and who live in Victoria.
Questions about the state disability plan or questionnaire responses can be directed to the Office for Disability on 1300 880 043.