Speaking recently at the NSW Local Government Managers Association Annual Conference, Director of the Local Government Division in Tasmania, Marguerite Scott, said that the Bacon Government’s key Local Government reform has undoubtedly been its Partnership Agreement Program. Through this program, agreements between Local and State Government aim to achieve social, economic and environmental benefits.
A thorough investigation by Oberon Council into its various community sentiments is leading the way for the future direction of Oberon. Located some 150 kilometres west of Sydney, residents were invited to voice their opinions as part of a 12 month long investigation for Council’s Community Development project.
Corporate collapses together with Executives and Directors suffering less than convincing memory losses; conflicts of interest with auditing firms; Government travel rorts and general mismanagement; scientists enhancing research results; people in high places abusing their positions; even a national football club coming to grief after sidestepping the rules – the list goes on. As ethics and propriety are regularly being thrown out the window, it is little wonder the community is becoming increasingly disillusioned.
A Cricket Walkabout is West Wimmera Shire’s newest tourist project. It will highlight this area of Victoria’s important links with Australia’s cricketing history, being where Aborigines were first introduced to cricket by people from the local stations.
Having formed as a single organisation in December 2001, the Western Australian Local Government Association (WALGA) recently held its first Local Government Week Convention in Perth. The theme was Local Government – Heartbeat of the Community.
The Marion Cultural Centre will represent South Australia at national awards after receiving its third recognition for architectural design this year. It has joined the Adelaide Convention Centre and the National Wine Centre as winners in the best ‘New Building’ category at the Royal Australian Institute of Architects 2002 Awards in South Australia.
Ronneby, population 13,000, with 35,000 in the hinterland, was a centre for raw material processing. However, there was little R&D, no tradition of higher education, high unemployment, and the Volvo steel mill was closing with a loss of 400 jobs. A carefully selected group of local officials worked out a number of concrete projects which were presented to the Ministry of Industry. As Anders Nilsson explained, the most far reaching and daring project was the establishment of a centre for education, R&D and business related to software – the Soft Center.
A new food safety website is set to save millions of dollars and protect millions of Australians from food poisoning. The FoodSmart site developed by the City of Whittlesea, in conjunction with the Department of Human Services, takes food business proprietors step by step through the process of preparing a Food Safety Program specially adapted for their business.
At the 2002 Local Government Managers Australia National Congress in Sydney, FOCUS invited delegates to nominate an individual and team from their Council who are excelling in their field and promoting the organisation’s corporate goals. In this edition we showcase two more of the competition winners.
South Australia’s Southern Mallee District Council has established an accommodation facility to cater for seasonal workers and visiting groups to the area. Located within the town of Parilla, it contains six individual rooms that can accommodate two people per room. Each room has a wardrobe and air conditioning.
Eurobodalla Shire Council in New South Wales, has developed a computerised Roads Risk Management System to address the removal of Non-Feasance defence. The May 2001 High Court ruling now imposes on Councils, as road authorities, a widened scope in their duty of care to all road users.
Queensland’s Department of Local Government and Planning has released the 2000/01 edition of Queensland Local Government Comparative Information. This report, which is produced in partnership with Councils, provides a comprehensive collection of efficiency, effectiveness and quality of service indicators for key Local Government functions.
A new framework for national land transport infrastructure planning and funding was announced recently by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson. AusLink aims to introduce a longer term, integrated approach to land transport planning and funding, replacing separate arrangements for road and rail. To date, there has been an absence of a national strategic approach to an integrated road and rail network.
A recent advertising campaign encourages people to find out about the hundreds of Commonwealth services available in regional areas. The Commonwealth Regional Information Service campaign, launched on 4 August, is aimed at informing country Australians about Commonwealth programmes and services they can access ranging from online health information to grants.
The national network of Area Consultative Committees (ACCs) provides an important link between the Federal Government and rural, regional, remote and metropolitan Australia. The network effectively covers the whole of Australia. As volunteer community based organisations, ACCs respond to issues in their regions and provide a vital link to government on local, social and economic conditions. ACCs work in partnership with the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DoTaRS) and are non-profit, community-based organisations funded by the Commonwealth Government.
The Department of Transport and Regional Services has brought together a number of natural disaster relief and mitigation programmes in its Natural Disaster Management Section. An outline of the Federal Government’s initiatives in this area follows.
The Rural Council Youth Project has been part of significant change in rural and regional Councils’ response to young people in Victoria. Councils’ commitment to improved policy, planning and practice is recognising the central role of youth in rural renewal. The Rural Council Youth Project was funded under the Local Government Incentive Programme, a $7 million two year Programme available in 1999-2001.
The Staff Exchange Program between Pine Rivers and Bulloo Shire Councils has proven to be a worthwhile program. It has enabled staff from both Councils to gain job skills and an insight into each others communities. Pine Rivers, population 124,000, is located on Brisbane’s northern fringe while Bulloo Shire, with 600 residents, is situated 1,000 kilometres west of Brisbane.
Clarence City and Glenorchy Councils in Tasmania have developed an innovative CD that is hoped will assist medical practitioners to understand the requirements of work activities, leading to better pre employment medical assessments and return to work programs.
A two week stint working on a bushland management project at Lord Howe Island has provided Brad Curtis, from Melbourne’s Maroondah City Council, with skills that will enhance his work at Council. From late June to early July this year, Maroondah City Council’s Bushland Coordinator and Team Leader Parks and Gardens, Brad Curtis, worked on a bushland management project at Lord Howe Island, located 700 kilometres north east of Sydney.
A recent census of Australia’s Councils identified cost, lack of time as well as the inability to release staff as the major barriers facing Local Government organisations in relation to training and development. Also of concern was the failure of some training providers to clearly identify needs and develop workable solutions which are of value to the whole organisation.
Last year, the Local Government and Shires Association of NSW (LGSA) and the NSW Department of Public Works and Services (NSW Supply) joined in a strategic alliance to benefit all Councils in NSW. Full details are available on the LGSA website at www.lgsa.org.au. The alliance allows Councils to tap into the buying power of NSW Supply, the biggest purchasing organisation in the State.
The City of Playford is one of three finalists in the South Australian Training Awards – Employer of the Year. The other finalists are Kimberley-Clarke and Ausbulk. The award sponsored by Channel Nine recognises employers who have demonstrated outstanding commitment and excellence in the provision of employee training programs.
Local Government managers can enhance their professional skills and qualifications through Monash University’s Department of Management. Supported by over 80 academic staff, the Department has the experience and resources to help managers further their capabilities, with programs that stress strong industry relevance and provide a sound theoretical and practical base for developing and assessing management options. This year alone, over 1,100 managers have taken the exciting step of choosing one of the many graduate programs available in the Department of Management.
The Centre for Pavement Engineering Education (CPEE) provides value added higher education programs for the pavement industry. By facilitating the transfer of information between academic institutions, road authorities, private companies, research organisations and others involved in the pavement industry, CPEE ensures its graduates possess the high level of practical knowledge and skills demanded by the industry.
Victoria’s Wellington Shire has established District Advisory Networks (DANs) to improve Councillor to community communication and consultation. With 43,000 people across 11,000 square kilometres of diverse communities, the Shire suffers from the tyranny of distance. Volunteers act as a channel between Council and the community to bring people together.
With change being a constant presence in Local Government, the development of a Change Management Manual by Gold Coast City Council is helping to guide staff and Council through dynamic changes. A staff survey in 1999 identified concerns regarding change, including communication and consultation and its coordination, planning and monitoring. As a result Council established a project team to address these concerns. This team worked with a consultant to develop a Change Management Manual. Council staff were involved at every stage of its development.
Intending candidates for the March 2004 quadrennial Local Government elections in Queensland will have the opportunity to obtain a detailed insight into the role and responsibilities of being a Councillor before deciding whether to nominate for the elections. From October this year, the Open Learning Institute (OLI) of TAFE will offer Australia’s only tertiary level course for prospective Councillors.
Using Transport SA’s CD-ROM titled The Road to Worker Safety, the City of Port Adelaide Enfield is providing training of parks and road maintenance staff covering statutory obligations and safe practices. The CD-ROM is being used by all who work on roads in SA inclusive of Local Governments.
RMIT University’s Centre for Regional and Rural Development (CRRD) has recently been established in Hamilton, western Victoria. A substantial initial donation from locals Helen and Geoff Handbury, who wanted to see a university set up in Hamilton, led to RMIT winning a grant of $3.125 million from the Victorian Government’s Regional Infrastructure Development Fund to establish the University presence, including the CRRD.
The WorkPlace website is an entry point to every aspect of employment information. The site assists all Australians by providing information on employment, government assistance, labour markets, working condition, careers, training and volunteering. The site is broken down into topics that will take you straight to the information you need.
Principles and examples of best value, continuous improvement and benchmarking, were just some of the topics covered at this year’s LGPro Vision 2005 – Maintaining the Momentum Conference. Held in Melbourne on 15 and 16 August, delegates heard from a number of keynote speakers who provided their expertise on the topic of Best Value.
Understanding issues impacting on young people and making decisions best able to address these is not easy. To assist Councillors in this role, the Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) will stage a series of one day seminars titled ‘Young People and Local Government Workshops’. The workshops aim to raise awareness and enhance Councillors’ understanding of opportunities, best practice examples and resources available to assist their Council in engaging with young people.
The Inquiry into Local Government and Cost Shifting has commenced and the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration has received submissions from Local Government organisations, Councils and interested parties. There has been strong interest in the Inquiry so far. Over 250 submissions have been received from Councils and others interested in Local Government.
For the first time this year, the Australian of the Year Awards will bring together the Australian of the Year, the Young Australian of the Year, and the Senior Australian of the Year. Also new this year, the Local Hero Awards will recognise local people who make a difference with their contributions and achievements in their local community.
The $100.5m flagship Sustainable Regions Programme, the major initiative under the Stronger Regions, A Stronger Australia statement announced by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport and Regional Services, John Anderson on 29 August 2001, is now well underway.
The Federal Departments of Environment and Heritage, Family and Community Services, Health and Ageing, Industry, Tourism and Resources, and Transport and Regional Services, are proud to sponsor the 2002 National Awards for Local Government. The Awards highlight the excellent work being done by Local Government in communities across Australia to improve business practice within councils and service delivery to their communities. We are proud to announce the Category and Commendation Winners for 2002.
Mosman Municipal Council has over 500 volunteers involved in a wide variety of programs. Volunteering is given a high profile by Council and is recognised as a vital and important component of this community.
If you’re considering academic qualifications to improve your future career options, several programs offered through the School of Social and Workplace Development at Southern Cross University are worth a look. These degrees are tailored in terms of content, design and delivery to address the existing and potential needs both of industry and of students wishing to position themselves well within modern organisations.
The pressure is on for English Local Government as Central Government seeks to achieve a step change in performance for poorly performing Councils. Comprehensive Performance Assessment is being introduced in phases to publicly illustrate individual Council performance in a range of poor to excellent. Incentives and penalties are also being introduced to provide a pressure for change.