President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA), Councillor John Campbell believes that 1998 is shaping up to be a very important year for Local Government. The Constitutional Convention scheduled for next month provides a great opportunity for Local Government. ALGA has written to all Convention delegates and the Chairman and Deputy Chairman urging that at least one day be set aside for discussing wider changes to the Constitution beyond that of Head of State.
This special full colour national edition of FOCUS marks our second birthday as a national publication. 1997 was another great year. Coverage included a variety of issues impacting on Local Government, some new, some perennial, as well as best practice examples demonstrating how Councils, large and small, city and rural, are striving to deliver optimum service to their communities.
When a duly elected sphere of government and the local communities they represent are disregarded, this not only flies in the face of the very essence of our democratic system, it defies commonsense. That Local Government has not been invited to be part of the intergovernmental group working to implement Greenhouse gas reduction must take the cake for 'thinking globally but ignoring locally'!
For some years the Australian Centre for Environmental Law (ACEL) in the Faculty of Law at the Australian National University has presented a series of successful short courses on issues concerning contemporary environmental law and policy. Of particular interest to employees in Local Government will be a course presented by Dr Gerry Bates on 12-13 May 1998 titled Environmental Responsibilities of Local Government
Carbon sink for central Qld Backed by Rockhampton City Council, the Capricornia Electricity Corporation Ltd, CAPELEC, and Flight West Airlines Pty Ltd, Central Queensland school children will issue an international Greenhouse challenge to children worldwide. Spearheading the move for children to plant a 'carbon sink for Central Queensland' is the Children's Tree Planting Project Inc, with work getting underway last month at a new aged care facility in North Rockhampton.
Following agreement with the National Office of Local Government late last year, the Local Government Community Services Association Australia (LGCSAA) has launched its National Best Practice and Benchmarking in Community Services and Community Development Project.
In December, the Senate Community Affairs References Committee reported on its inquiry into housing assistance. The inquiry seemed to us an opportunity to explore some more creative ideas, and we were particularly interested in the role which Local Government might play. The fact that Local Government is rarely brought to the table for any government policy development is a serious problem in this country, most particularly in relation to housing.
When the Japan Local Government Centre opened in Sydney in 1994, it became the sixth overseas office of the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR). CLAIR aims to promote international exchange and cooperation through its overseas offices located in New York, London, Paris, Singapore, Seoul, Sydney and Beijing.
While many may be unaware of it, most Australians are highly familiar with Bayside scenery. From the early days of European settlement, the picturesque clifftops and beaches of the area have provided inspiration for writers, sculptors and painters, most notably those of the Heidelberg School.
With an ageing population, it is imperative for Bayside to provide a range of services catering for the widespread needs of older adults. As well as activities provided at Senior Citizens Centres and traditional Council support services, Bayside provides programs which aim to bridge any service gaps older citizens may experience.
Young people in court Brighton Courthouse is set to receive a heavy influx of young people. This is not due to an increase in youth crime but, as a place where local youth can meet and join in various activities.
Waste management is an issue for all municipalities but can weigh particularly heavily on coastal areas where inadequate waste management can adversely affect local waters and beaches. Bayside has adopted a comprehensive strategy which aims to promote reduction in the overall volume of waste generated and improve disposal methods.
Preserving the natural features, which provide Bayside residents a quality environment, is an important task for Council. A Coastal Strategy has been developed for what is probably the most precious asset of Bayside, its beach and foreshore.
Bayside is situated along 17 kilometres of Port Phillip Bay. Stretching from Brighton to Beaumaris, it boasts some of Melbourne's most spectacular coastline and beaches. Comprising the former Cities of Brighton and Sandringham, along with parts of Moorabbin and Mordialloc, Bayside offers a range of activities and lifestyles.
Residents and visitors to Bayside's Hampton Beach precinct were treated to a spectacular show in October 1997 when they witnessed a sand dredging operation restoring the eroded beach to its former splendour. Over the years, the beach had gradually washed away. Under a comprehensive masterplan for the area, a total revamp is planned including recreating the beach.
When Victorian municipalities were forced to amalgamate many people feared the loss of a sense of identification or sense of place. This may have been the case at Bayside with Brighton and Sandringham both having long traditions of local representation and distinct identities. The natural link provided by the coast and seaside flavour has proved a uniting force. The advantages of gaining economies from merging assets have delivered many benefits for the whole City.
With the establishment of Council's Corporate Centre at Sandringham, the more traditional Brighton Civic Precinct is also undergoing a major transformation. Many under utilised and poorly maintained buildings have been revitalised providing a vibrant new hub of community activity.
Competitive tendering has freed Council from the role of sole provider of services. Council sets the priorities for service provision. So long as the right quality and costs are present there is no reason why Council should necessarily carry out all services itself.
Bayside is the only Local Government authority taking part together with 15 other organisations in a national benchmarking study being conducted by the Australian Quality Council Other participants include Swinburne University, Toyota Australia, Centrelink and the State Revenue Office. The study will look at how different organisations measure customer satisfaction.
With private golf courses, such as Royal Melbourne, Victoria and Cheltenham, and three other courses owned by Council at Brighton, Sandringham and Elsternwick, together with its coastline, golf and sailing are the most prominent leisure pursuits for many Bayside residents and visitors alike. In the near future, these activities will bring large numbers of international visitors to the City.