With 2002 designated as the Year of the Outback, various Councils and communities are celebrating what makes their locality special. As the year unfolds, Outback areas are showcasing their people, achievements and local attractions through numerous events, exhibitions and festivals. Founder and Chairman of the year, Bruce Campbell MBE, said 2002 is an opportunity for the Outback to develop its infinite potential and recognise the achievements of its people.
In Wollongong, the Lake Illawarra Water Ski Championships were cancelled as the $50,000 public liability premium for the one day event could not be raised. Bayside City Council’s Hampton Street Festival was also cancelled. Mudgee Shire faced with a $5,000 premium cancelled last year’s Christmas Carols. Similarly, Bombala Shire no longer runs its local growers’ market. For the Southport Olympic pool, premiums have leapt from $7,800 to $66,000 in two years. In Cairns, the Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre was notified by its insurance agent that its public liability cover would not be renewed. The Centre has obtained cover with a new broker but the premium increased 500 per cent! So, around the nation, the list of events and services to be cancelled, and the hike in public liability premiums goes on. With Local Governments and community groups forced to cancel a variety of events, the effect on communities large and small is profound. In its submission to the recent Ministerial Meeting on Public Liability, the Australian Local Government Association clearly put the case that social capital is being eroded and community cohesion weakened as a result.
A major problem being faced by many rural Councils is the lack of doctors, medical facilities and services within their region. One such Council that faced this situation was Queensland’s Kingaroy Shire Council. To address this issue, Council implemented a strategic approach to ease the situation.
Originally established in 1982 as a closed mining town, Jabiru in the Northern Territory is planning its twentieth birthday celebrations. The town owes its existence to the 40 year lease agreement between the Commonwealth Director of National Parks and the Jabiru Town Development Authority (JTDA) drawn up in 1981. Known as a head lease, the agreement covers the 13 square kilometres of the town of Jabiru. Renewal of the lease for a further 40 years is due in 2021.
I am often asked for advice on how to access funding available within the federal system. My clients have a healthy degree of cynicism about dealing with Canberra, but they realise that the Federal Government cannot be ignored in many areas. But the States are important players too. Alan Wood, Economics Editor of the Australian, wrote an excellent piece last year titled ‘billion dollar business welfare’. It was about government handouts and State bidding wars. To give a feel for the scale and nature of the assistance, I have borrowed some of Alan’s examples, and added a few of my own. The following list of Commonwealth/State assistance is not complete and some of the figures are ballpark estimates because the true figures are not divulged.
Everything you wanted to know about Local Government across the Commonwealth and more. In March, the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) launched the first ever Commonwealth Local Government Handbook in London. The Commonwealth Local Government Handbook 2002 contains profiles detailing the Local Government system in nine Commonwealth countries - Australia, Ghana, India, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa, Uganda, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe, with case studies of innovative reforms in Local Government structures and services throughout the Commonwealth.
The All Nations Park, Darebin City Council’s new open space project, creatively transforms a piece of land that has undergone many changes over the years. The All Nations Park was developed with the vision of a landscape made up of locally relevant materials and themes reflecting the cultural diversity of Darebin.
Many speakers at the recent national conference on racism at the Sydney Opera House on 12-13 March, made the point that tolerance is a value we still need to aspire to. Intolerance has reared its head most recently in vilification of asylum seekers and the sometimes violent post September 11 ‘retaliations’ against Muslims and their property, including mosques.
Councils across Queensland are preparing to join in the celebrations of Local Government Week 2002 to be held from 13 to 19 May. Coordinated by the Local Government Association of Queensland, the Week has proved its worth in helping Councils raise awareness of their role in the community.
An initiative of the Flinders Island Tourism Association, www.flindersislandonline.com.au is showcasing Flinders Island and the Furneaux Region to the world via the world wide web. Initially designed as a tourism website, Flinders Island Online has been broadened to promote other local business ventures.
With over 120 spectacular beaches, finding one just for yourself is not hard. Add to this rugged ranges, world-significant wetlands, abundant wildlife and flora, crystal clear blue seas, some 52 islands to explore and a pleasant climate throughout the year, Flinders Island is undoubtedly one of Australia’s best kept secrets. But every paradise has its limitations and for the 940 or so Flinders residents isolation is an issue. With the advent of the electronic age and the Internet, communication has certainly been enhanced.
The Roaring Forties howl across the nine hole course on Bass Strait’s Flinders Island. The wind is so strong that many of the trees are permanently bowed. Perhaps it is because of the wind that this course has only been parred once in its 40 year history.
Killiecrankie diamonds are still to found on Flinders. But if someone finds one, a visitor or a local, they have to send them away to get the faceted and polished. One enterprising bunch of locals fossicks for these beautiful gems, and then they send them overseas to get them cut. Imagine if there were someone living on Flinders who had the skill and the passion to hire out sieves and shovels; to teach visitors what to look for and how to look for it; who shared their thrill when they found something; and who helped them smile even more by cutting and setting their find into an heirloom that means more than any purchase ever could.
Campaspe Shire Council identified local roads as one of the first services to go through the Best Value process because of the low customer satisfaction ratings. In addition, Council decided to consider parks and gardens plus buildings in the same review.
The NSW Government’s Sustainable Energy Development Authority (SEDA) and the Coffs Harbour City Council are pleased to be hosting the second annual regional sustainability seminar series on 23 April 2002 at the Norm Jordan Pavilion at Coffs Harbour Showground.
Landholders in Queensland’s Crow’s Nest Shire have the opportunity to apply for funding of natural resource management projects on their property, through the Shire’s Natural Resource Management (NRM) Small Grants. The aim of the grants is to assist landholders in achieving positive natural resource management outcomes for their land and the Shire in general.
“The need to use our resources more efficiently is more paramount than ever before,” said Chief Executive Officer, Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA), Chris Champion. “It is timely to revisit how we plan the management of our assets, and again review the way services are delivered to our communities.
Road authorities now owe a duty of care to users of roads and footpaths. Recent High Court decisions indicate that the authority ‘is obliged to take reasonable steps’ to inspect the condition of its assets and know about ‘latent dangers which might reasonably be suspected to exist’. Turning this to a positive, the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australia (IPWEA) considers that a disciplined, proactive inspection system is a key element of a good maintenance management system. Documentation is also an essential element.
The Australian Local Government Association will host its National Locals Road Congress in Toowoomba on 28 - 30 July. The Congress brings together Councils from across Australia with their major stakeholders to discuss funding for local roads.
The City of Port Phillip scooped the Savewater! Awards presented in Melbourne in March. Council won the highest award, the Minister for Environment and Conservation’s award for contribution to water sustainability, plus the urban government organisation award for greywater and stormwater recycling at Inkerman Oasis in St Kilda.
Improvements in vehicle management at Tasmania’s Clarence City Council has led to the development of the Vehicle Coordination and Management System also known as VECOM. VECOM allows users to book Councils fleet online. It is efficient and coordinated, recording all the details necessary to better manage a fleet system.
While increasing pressures threaten our urban trees, South Australia’s City of West Torrens’ innovative approach to greening promises to provide attractive shady avenues well into the future. Three years ago, Council embarked on a major street tree research program that has already added over 30 new varieties to the City’s streets. Changes to urban development standards in the 1990s and the permitting of larger homes on smaller allotments, effectively reduced the space available for gardens and trees.
Trethewey Industries’ exposure to the waste compacting market over the past four years has equipped it to develop machines which exceed customers requirements. Over the next two months, Trethewey Industries will be introducing their new product.
Hervey Bay City Council is believed to have created a Queensland first when it corporatised its water and wastewater management unit, Wide Bay Water, in January this year. It did so with a clear focus on marketing the award winning organisation’s proven expertise to other authorities. Wide Bay Water Corporation (WBWC) is currently enjoying international demand for its consulting, keynote speaking and technical services.
In light of the recent waiving of non feasance by the High Court, road authorities across the country have found themselves more exposed to litigation. Councils are now required to provide evidence that assets under its care and control are systematically inspected with defects clearly identified, risk rated and prioritised for remediation.
A computerised hydraulic model has been developed for the Dubbo sewerage system. Wet weather stormwater inflow and infiltration of the sewerage system, resulting in pump station overflows, sewage spills and sewage discharge, led to significant costs for Council. Council was also looking for a new approach to the inspection of sewers.
Earlier this year the United Nations Division for Sustainable Development issued an invitation and strong support for Fremantle to become the second world city to host the United Nations Car Free Day series. The first being held in Bogota, Colombia, in February 2002. Shed Your Car Day encourages people to use alternative ways to get around their city to promote the environmental, health and social benefits of reduced car use.
The IPWEA (NSW Division) will host the Public Infrastructure Forum on Tuesday 14 March 2002 at the Parkroyal Parramatta. This event promises a stimulating discussion of key management issues and updates on current regulations, with top presenters.
Flinders Council includes some 52 islands comprising the Furneaux Group of Islands along with other islands in east Bass Strait. They stretch from the north east Coast of Tasmania to within 16 kilometres of Wilson’s Promontory on the Victorian coastline.
Like most regional communities, Flinders Council has a large area with a dispersed population and a small rate base. Local Government services provided on the two main islands, include some 386 kilometres of sealed and gravel roads. Urban services in Whitemark (population 170) and Lady Barron (population 130) include kerbs and gutters, footpaths, and an untreated water supply. Drinking water comes from household tanks.
Commencing operations in February 2001, the Area Marketing and Development Office (AMDO) aims to increase visitors to the region and encourage more people to move to Flinders Island. It is helping local businesses improve what they do and their market penetration.
As a microcosm of Tasmania, Flinders is suffering a loss of young people with its demographic profile showing a marked drop in the proportion of people aged 15-34 years. To help turn this situation around, the Area Marketing and Development Office (AMDO) was established early last year.
Flinders Council has a very close relationship with its community. While other areas need to work hard to build community spirit and encourage participation, willingness to work together and volunteerism is second nature for this island community. This is vital as, due to its location, Flinders has few opportunities to resource share with other Local Governments. This means Council is very much reliant on its own initiative.In 1999, when the Tasmanian Government announced that it wished to negotiate new partnership agreements with Local Government to enhance service delivery, Flinders was one of the first Councils to put up its hand.
A fertile environment of spacious rich land, predictable weather and crystal clear seas, with an abundance of marine life has resulted in vibrant and growing primary industries on Flinders Island. The region is based solidly on farming and fishing industries, which employs 30 to 40 per cent of the workforce. Beef, lamb and wool is sold to places throughout Australia and overseas, contributing to our national export market.
Flying out of Essendon airport with Island Airlines, the plane tracks east of Melbourne’s CBD then follows the suburban beaches down to the Mornington Peninsula. There are great views of Westernport Bay and Gippsland coastal towns through to Wilson’s Promontory. At the Promontory, you head out over the ocean and the first of the east Bass Strait islands come into sight. One of the islands of the Kent Group you fly over is Deal Island.
As well as flying three times a week out of Melbourne and Traralgon, Island Airlines flies from Launceston to Flinders and return every day of the week. Flying from Launceston, the Furneaux Group soon dots the seascape.
With magnificent surroundings and pristine environment, adventure activities can always be had on Flinders Island. The Furneaux region provides for excellent scenery, but delve a little deeper and you will find yourself discovering abundant wildlife, tranquil beaches, and a rich historical past.
Honeysuckle Development Corporation is transforming Newcastle’s once industrial harbour side land into a place where people will work, live and relax. The Corporation was established in 1992 with State Government funding of $100 million to contribute to the regeneration of the City.
The City of Gosnells is tackling the issues of urban growth, taking a leadership role in the implementation and development of new urban growth models, which balance the social, environmental and economic objectives of the City. Gosnells is located some 17 kilometres south east of Perth CBD and has a population of 85,000. It is the fourth largest municipality in WA in terms of population, but ranked thirteenth in terms of revenue. Consequently the City is tackling strong growth pressure, an average of 73 new dwellings a month, with limited means.
A campaign to rid Boroondara of graffiti is proving to be a success as hundreds of residents take advantage of a free offer of paint and graffiti removal kits to remove graffiti from private properties.
Through a coordinated program comprising the Stormwater Ambassador Project and Environmental Assessment Project, Maclean Shire Council, in New South Wales, is successfully raising community awareness of the issue of stormwater. Council’s Stormwater Awareness Campaign commenced in 1998 and has been continually bringing stormwater related issues to the awareness of the community. It specifically targets school aged children, as well as local businesses.