The 90th Annual Conference of the Local Government Association of Tasmania (LGAT) was held on 28 and 29 May 2002, this time focusing on the role youth play both within the community and Local Government. Delegates from across Tasmania including elected members, officers and managers, young and old, converged on Hobart over the two day event to discuss a spectrum of youth related, as well as business orientated issues concerning local governance.
At the recent Local Government Managers National Congress, FOCUS invited delegates to nominate an individual or team from their Council who are excelling in their field and promoting the organisation’s corporate goals. FOCUS received many entries, and we thank all those delegates who entered the competition. Over the next six months, FOCUS will showcase the winners of the competition, one team and one individual each edition.
Honouring an election promise made by the Coalition parties, the Minister for Regional Services, Local Government and the Territories, Wilson Tuckey, recently announced a Parliamentary Inquiry into cost shifting by the State Governments to Local Government. In welcoming the Inquiry, the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) believes that this is an important step in clearly identifying and acknowledging the extensive role of Local Government in delivering services to communities. However, ALGA has expressed its concern that instances of cost shifting from the Commonwealth to Local Government have not been included in the Inquiry’s terms of reference.
Meeting in Darling Harbour, Sydney from 12 to 15 May 2002, some 600 delegates attended the National Congress of Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA). Preceding the Congress, LGMA was host to the International Best Practices Symposium on 10 and 11 May. Working in collaboration with peak Local Government professional bodies in the USA and New Zealand, LGMA presented five best practice case studies to over 200 delegates. Almost half were international delegates representing 12 nations.
New Zealand’s City of Manukau was the winner of the Australasian final of the 2002 LGMA Management Challenge. South Australia’s City of Playford and Marrickville Council in New South Wales were placed second and third respectively.
A project currently in place at Glenorchy City Council in Tasmania has older people within the community as its central focus, catering for both their health and well being.Eating with Friends is a project that aims to address social isolation and poor nutrition habits by developing innovative and cost effective ways for older people to eat with others.
The Chongqing Municipality is two hours flying time north west of Hong Kong. It serves 30 million citizens – and is thus the world’s largest municipal government. The city of Chongqing, with a population of 6.5 million, was the home of the national government during World War II. However Chongqing is significant for another reason, namely that it provides a litmus test of how regional China will cope with its accession to World Trade Organisation arrangements.
A community initiative developed by the LaTrobe Council in Tasmania is assisting in the small to medium sized businesses within the community. The LaTrobe Business Mentoring Program works on the principle that ‘building theperson helps to build the business’.
Governments all over the world are making noises about community ‘consultation’ and ‘engagement’. Nowhere is this more strongly manifested than in Local Government. Let’s look at some of the reasons for this, and think about some straightforward ways of addressing the issues.
ATSIC's Wangka Wilurrara Regional Council (WWRC) and South Australia's District Council of Ceduna held a workshop on 19 April, at the Far West Aboriginal Sports Complex to help define the future of their working relationship.
With road trauma being one of the biggest causes of death and injury for Aboriginal people in Australia, road safety agencies throughout Australia are delivering many road safety programs and driver training services into rural and remote Aboriginal communities.
Under the National Black Spot Programme, introduced as part of the Federal Government’s commitment to reducing the nation’s road toll, $44.5 million a year is available for road-related improvements to the year 2006. To date, the program has provided $227 million for more than 2200 projects around Australia.
Australia’s 2002-03 Migration Program recently announced by the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, Philip Ruddock, will be the largest and most highly skilled in over a decade, providing an increased capacity for regional migration and regional economic development. With a planning level of between 100,000 to 110,000 places, the 2002-03 Migration Program will be 12,000 places higher than the 2001-02 Program, which has a projected outcome of 93,000, and will continue to be a central contributor to economic and social development in all regions of Australia.
Council’s recent purchase of a Toyota Prius, a car with a low emissions hybrid petrol/electric engine, is being used as a promotional tool to focus attention on opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
In line with its long term strategic planning, Carrathool Shire is working to have its operations accredited to the world’s leading environmental standard, ISO 14001, by August 2002. To achieve the standard Council is required to develop and implement a strict environmental management system (EMS).
Over the past decade a number of new industries have moved into the Shire. In the two years to June 2001 almost $40 million worth of development applications were approved by Council. Most notable of these were the $19 million Namoi cotton gin near Hillston and a $4.25 million bulk grain handling and storage facilities at Goolgowi.
The recent growth of business activity in the Shire has been encouraged and supported by Council through infrastructure developments; improved telecommunications; and meeting the housing needs of an increased labour force.
Travellers heading north to outback Queensland or the Northern Territory along the Kidman Way will come across Carrathool Shire. With its diversity of wide open spaces and intensive horticultural activities, national parks, rivers, abundant wildlife, towns and villages, the Shire of Carrathool will certainly kick start every traveller’s outback experience.
In a response to the challenge of increased population and a higher demand for resources, the Riverina Coalition for Sustainable Energy and Renewables is being established. The big task for the Riverina Coalition is to support existing and planned projects; explore initiatives and opportunities in sustainable development; and establish an awareness and education program that informs the community.
Council officers in the City of Melbourne now routinely assess proposals for environmental, economic and social outcomes. Staff use checklists, templates and guidelines to determine the significance of impacts. These are then quantified and qualified to enable Councillors to make informed decisions regarding capital works submissions, proposals going to Council and corporate planning.
Using a long term approach, the Yellagonga Catchment Group (YCG) aims to improve the quality of the Yellagonga wetlands using a long term approach. YCG was formed in 1999 in response to the declining ecology of the local lakes and wetlands in Perth’s north west. Social problems associated with this decline included seasonal midge plagues and malodorous algae outbreaks.
A practical web-based resource to help Local Governments conserve biodiversity is currently being developed. Councils are encouraged to contribute toward the Toolbox, which will be completed by October 2002. The Toolbox idea was initiated by the Biological Diversity Advisory Committee and is being developed and produced by Environs Australia with funding from the Natural Heritage Trust Bushcare Program. The National Local Government Biodiversity Education Steering Committee, comprising representatives from Local Government and other agencies, is guiding the development of the Toolbox.
In what is believed to be a first for Victoria, the City of Whitehorse has launched a new initiative that rewards people for building energy efficient homes.Council is offering a free building permit, worth approximately $500, to all new five star rated single dwellings built in Whitehorse over the next two years or until mandated by law.
At a recent municipal conference in Geraldton, the Western Australian Minister for Local Government and Regional Development, Tom Stephens, urged Councils to improve their complaint handling processes. The Minister’s call follows a statement by the State Ombudsman of the need for a lift in performance by Councils when dealing with the sensitive and sometimes difficult complaint handling process.
As part of the Wingecarribee Our Future Environment (WOFE) program, Council, backed by community support, has included an environmental levy to fund environmental projects. With approval from the State Government, a special rate was raised to generate $500,000 per year over three years from 1 July 2000.
Whyalla in South Australia is located in a semi arid region. It relies solely on water pumped by pipeline, some 400 kilometres from the Murray River. Due to the City’s heavy reliance on this system, Council has introduced various initiatives to reduce its dependency on this precious resource.
The Northern Shoalhaven Reclaimed Water Management Scheme (REMS) is one of the largest and most complex water recycling schemes undertaken by an Australian water authority. A partnership between Shoalhaven City Council and the Department of Land and Water Conservation, the aim of REMS is to reuse up to 80 per cent of reclaimed water from six Shoalhaven Wastewater Treatment Plants.
Western Australia’s Shire of Ashburton’s Environmental Health Strategy will allow environmental health needs in Aboriginal communities to be identified and managed more efficiently. By focusing on major influences, such as the management of the physical environment; biological hazards; and chemical hazards, environmental health outcomes will be enhanced.
Thuringowa City Council’s Mountview Park Detention Basin is a storage area for flood waters during peak flooding events, providing for sediment and pollutant removal from the stormwater. It has also created an innovative, community oriented open space area in an existing parkland.
The Marion and Mitcham Environmental Education Project aims to improve the environment through the education of business, community and Council. The Cities of Mitcham and Marion in South Australia have identified the need to educate, assist and advise businesses within the area, with the aim of improving their environmental performance and minimising the impact of their activities.
The Wollondilly Roadside Reserve Strategy, a three year Natural Heritage Trust funded project, was developed by Wollondilly Shire Council in New South Wales and the Natural Heritage Trust to produce management plans for rural roadside environments. The main aim of the strategy was for sustainable, natural and informed management of roadside environments, to benefit the community ecologically, economically and socially.
Large scale engineering developments have been cognisant of community values and tolerances of engineering versus the environment for several decades. Environmental concerns at local level have introduced an appreciable trickle effect through to Local Government level.
Manly Council has received over $1 million of grants and support to develop an innovate pilot stormwater reuse treatment train in the Manly Ocean Beach Pine Street Catchment under the Environment Australia Urban Stormwater Initiative. The project is a joint initiative between Manly Council and Environment Australia and is funded under the Commonwealth Government’s Urban Stormwater Initiative Program and Manly Council’s Environmental Levy.
In June 2000, the City of Casey held a garden makeover competition as part of its activities for World Environment Week 2000. It is a unique garden makeover due to its use of recycled materials, both from within the resident’s own home and garden, as well as from other sources.
The City of Melbourne has reaffirmed its commitment to the continued development of a sustainable and healthy urban environment by endorsing a set of tenets to be known as the Melbourne Principles’. Lord Mayor, John So said the ten draft principles were drawn up at the Building Urban Ecosystems Conference held in Melbourne in April.
Melbourne’s Bayside City Council is taking action to ensure that the new North Brighton Children’s Centre has the cleanest playground in town. As part of the extensive planning and management process, Council commissioned soil testing to ensure that there were no potential health risks for the children who will be using the centre.
The Green Globe 21 Benchmarking is awarded to travel and tourism communities and operators, in recognition of their abilities to demonstrate environmental, social and economic responsibility. Last October, Queensland’s Douglas Shire became the first in the Asia Pacific region to be awarded the Green Globe Benchmarking.
The City of Darebin is offering its staff interest free bike loans as part of Council’s Green Travel Plan that aims to encourage staff to ride to work. Launched in July last year, the Green Travel Plan (GTP) is part of Darebin’s Integrated Travel Plan (ITP), entitled ‘Going Places’.
The offensive smell and remnant contents of waste disposal bins are a widespread problem in most municipalities. Flats, restaurants, schools, businesses, and in fact anywhere where there are bins, particularly in confined areas, are all prone to suffer the off putting odious smell, and unpleasant lack of hygiene, associated with bins in need of a good clean.
Covering an area of almost 19,000 square kilometres, with a population of just under 3,500 people, Carrathool Shire is located about halfway between Adelaide and Sydney and about 500 kilometres north of Melbourne. Despite this apparent isolation Carrathool Shire Council has taken on a leadership role in environmental management.
Council believes that infrastructure support and an environmental management system are the two vital elements for increased growth and prosperity. Although the population of Hillston has increased in recent years, the fact that other areas of the Shire have experienced a decline is a concern to Council.
The Local Government and Shires Associations of NSW (LGSA) are calling on the State Government to show real commitment to the environment by introducing container deposit legislation (CDL). The LGSA have undertaken a CDL campaign coinciding with World Environment Day on 5 June this year.