Funding Regional Communities: Renew – Revive – Revitalise
The MAV has launched a Funding Regional Communities campaign to secure four more years of crucial funding in the 2014 State Budget.
In 2011 the Victorian Government delivered a $360 million windfall for local roads, community facilities and other initiatives, which has funded more than 1500 projects to date.
It is important for communities that it is renewed so councils can continue to revive and revitalise their regions. [With the funding set to finish in 2014.]
The three state initiatives are the Country Roads and Bridges programs ($160 million for 40 rural councils); and as part of the Regional Growth Fund, the Local Government Infrastructure program ($100 million) and the Putting Locals First program ($100 million for 48 councils and eligible community organisations).
This campaign is just one element of our broader State Budget submission. During the campaign we will encourage the 48 rural and regional councils to showcase the value of the government’s $360 million investment and how this funding has been used to renew, revive and revitalise their local communities.
Plan Melbourne submission
The MAV submission has endorsed the principles behind Plan Melbourne, and called for the strategy to be enshrined in legislation with long-term funding and a State-local protocol to provide greater policy certainty beyond the political cycle.
While councils largely support the new concepts of 20 minute neighbourhoods and national employment clusters, these elements will require further policy development.
Our submission highlights improved coordination of State departments, agencies and councils, along with the development of new financing models as being critical to the successful implementation of Plan Melbourne.
The preparation of an Infrastructure and Investment Plan, identifying proposals, priorities, timeframes and the funding mechanism, is seen as the first step for the Metropolitan Planning Authority.
As a planning partner, councils need support to give effect to the government’s vision in a timely and coordinated way. Many directions have a short-term timeframe, and we will be looking to the 2014 State Budget as an indicator of how serious the government is taking the implementation task.
Victoria Auditor General review of council 2012-13 results
The Auditor General has released its review of councils’ 2012-13 financial results.
As a sector, local government continues to perform strongly, with an aggregate surplus exceeding $1 billion.
The report indicates that the number of councils at high or medium financial risk has doubled from six in 2011-12 to 12 in 2012-13 as a consequence of councils paying for their defined benefit superannuation contributions through borrowing. This was an expected outcome and reflects the significant financial effect of the shortfall on the sector.
The Auditor General has issued clear auditor opinion on all councils, regional library corporations and associated entities. The report also examines councils’ performance reporting, rating strategies and audit committees.
Eight recommendations are aimed at strengthening the independence of audit committees and the quality of rating strategies.
Contact Owen Harvey-Beavis.
A new Senior Victorians and Walking: Obstacles and Opportunities report has been released by Victoria Walks, with an emphasis on the implications for local government.
The recommendations fit with many initiatives councils are already undertaking in line with the World Health Organisation ‘age friendly cities’ concept with most councils having positive ageing strategies in place.
The research was conducted by active travel consultant Dr Jan Garrard for Victoria Walks and the Council on the Ageing. It included a survey of 1128 seniors from across Victoria, focus groups, analysis of data from the Victorian Integrated Survey of Travel and Activity, and an international literature review.
The report makes a number of recommendations for councils, as well as state agencies.
MAV Strategic Planning Meetings
The MAV's annual strategic planning process will commence in February.
Eight consultation sessions will be held across the state to provide an important opportunity for members to influence the MAV's work priorities and inform the development of our 2014-15 Strategic Work Plan.
Input and feedback from member is essential to ensure the MAV remains focused on meeting sector needs.
Sessions will be held in Wangaratta (4 Feb), Latrobe (14 Feb), Warrnambool (18 Feb), Melbourne (two sessions, 26 Feb), Yarriambiack (28 Feb), Geelong (3 Mar), and Bendigo (12 Mar).
Councillors, chief executive officers and relevant officers are invited to attend any of these meetings.
Email Gavin Mahoney or phone 9667 5564 or 0419 486 646 to RSVP.
Mayoral Program and meeting with Local Government Minister
The MAV Mayoral Program was held on 5 December where 35 Mayors and Deputy Mayors attended.
Feedback has been highly supportive of this program, which examines the challenges and expectations of being a Mayor.
We have already locked in 4 December 2014 for next year’s program. The event included a presentation by the Minister for Local Government Hon. Jeanette Powell, who emphasised the value of professional development for councillors and in particular the programs the MAV offers.
The MAV was also pleased to hold our regular meeting with Minister Powell this week. Topics discussed included libraries, procurement, the VSLGA and the success of the Country Roads and Bridges Program and the Regional Development Fund. The MAV’s next meeting with the Minister will be held early in the new year.
New outdoor smoking laws in 2014
The Tobacco Amendment Act 2013 has been passed by the Victorian Government with new smoking laws to be introduced from 1 April 2014.
Smoking will be prohibited at or within 10 metres of outdoor children’s playground equipment, outdoor skate parks, outdoor sporting venues during organised underage sporting events, and in outdoor areas within public swimming pool complexes.
The reforms will be promoted through a positive community education approach, rather than a strict enforcement approach.
Grants are being made available to all councils to cover installation of signage, communication with affected stakeholders, and education and enforcement activities.
For further information about the new laws, please email the Department of Health. Contact Rosemary Hancock at the MAV for information about the grant funding arrangements.
Ballarat recognised for outstanding service to migrants and refugees
The MAV congratulates the City of Ballarat for receiving a prestigious Victorian Multicultural Award for Excellence.
The award was presented in recognition of Council CALD (culturally and linguistically diverse) Careers program which was delivered in 2012-2013.
Jointly funded by the Department of Employment and the City of Ballarat, the program involved working with 55 unemployed and underemployed members of the Ballarat CALD community to develop job-specific skills necessary to obtain work in various industry sectors.
The innovative program was hugely successful with 16 employment placements and a further four education placements into vocational studies.
Productivity Commission Inquiries - childcare and infrastructure
The Productivity Commission (PC) has released an Issues Paper which identifies a range of matters about the information and comments that are being sought on Childcare and Early Childhood Learning.
The MAV will be preparing a written submission and will call for input from councils shortly. Councils interested in preparing a submission can get information online.
For further information please contact Wendy Allan.
The PC has also released an Issues Paper into infrastructure costs. The MAV encourages councils to make a submission, given the importance of local government infrastructure.
For further details contact James Cleaver. Submissions are due by 23 December.
Smart Urban Futures
The MAV and Victoria Walks are convening a Smart Urban Futures: Building Liveable, Walkable, Sustainable Communities conference on 26-27 March, 2014.
The event will feature a range of significant local and international case studies and world-class presenters including Larry Frank (Canada), Rodney Tolley (UK), and Charlie Hales, Mayor of Portland, Oregon.
Topics will include the liveability of urban areas in the future and the increase of older populations in years to come.
Contact John Hennessey for further information.
The Energy Pipelines Cooperative Research Centre (EPCRC) is researching unauthorised interference with pipeline infrastructure to better understand potential causes, and identify remedies.
The EPCRC will interview pipeline operators, contractors and various councils who may have been involved, or have experience in such incidents.
If you are interested in participating in this project please contact Dr Vanessa McDermott of the Australian National University on (02) 6125 1995.
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