Cooperation needed to strengthen communities

The Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV) has called on all political parties contesting the November state election to support initiatives that make local communities stronger, more resilient and better connected.

MAV President, Councillor Mary Lalios, said, “We want to see partnerships, policy reform and program commitments from the next Victorian Government that respond to some of the public health and safety challenges impacting on communities.

“A stronger emphasis on prevention initiatives would help to reduce harm and the public health costs associated with electronic gaming machines.

“Councils require a greater say about where poker machines are located to protect vulnerable communities.

The current system favours applicants and requires a council to prove there is ‘no net detriment’.

“Legislative changes are needed to reverse the system and require the applicant to meet the economic and social impact test that their application is beneficial to the local community.

“We also seek the State to introduce new harm reduction measures, such as imposing a $1 maximum bet limit, reducing gaming venue operating hours and lowering the daily cash withdrawal limit from EFTPOS facilities at gaming venues from $500 to $200.”

“Victoria has also experienced Australia’s biggest population growth ever over the past year, primarily due to overseas migration. We welcome new arrivals to Victoria, with councils providing a range of programs.

“We call on the State to work collaboratively with rural and regional councils to develop a settlement plan that links to regional employment and economic development opportunities.

“Councils would welcome the opportunity to work in partnership with the next Victorian government to deliver a range of initiatives that strengthen our community safety, health and wellbeing,” she said.