President of the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) Councillor John Ross points to a range of key areas where Local Government will continue to play a vital role in shaping community life as we enter this new millennium. He lists regional development, environmental issues, reconciliation, accessible transport, drug and alcohol abuse, safer communities and infrastructure provision to name just a few of the major policy areas that will define our future.
While we are being told the Australian economy is thriving, many people do not share the same rosy perspective, particularly in rural and regional Australia. The Annual State of the Regions 1999 Report, prepared for the Australian Local Government Association by the National Institute of Economics and Industry Research, unsurprisingly revealed large disparities in the distribution of benefits from the economic 'boom'.
As the challenges and opportunities this new millennium brings are taken on board, a united approach by Local Government has never been more vital. Any deviation from this, which allows divide and conquer tactics to step in, will spell disaster for Councils and the communities that are reliant on them.
A second National Waste Educator's Conference, titled Waste Educate 2000, will be held in Melbourne. The vision of Waste Educate 2000 will be 'to provide opportunities for Waste Managers and Educators to share insights, ideas and resources for the development of sustainable solutions to the waste management challenges facing all communities in the new millennium'.
Facing the challenge of major structural change in its traditional industries, Whyalla in South Australia has taken on the task of developing new economic opportunities by capitalising on its natural advantages and improving its environment.
Frog focus in Botany Bay
Botany Bay City Council, in partnership with Taronga Park Zoo, is spearheading a program which aims to save Australia's endangered frog species. The project, titled 'Frog Focus Botany', has school students and other local groups supporting the program by collecting scientific data and assisting with improving habitats.
Are businesses in your region unable to find suitable skilled workers? Is your community interested in attracting business people who are prepared to establish a new venture in your region? If the answer to either of the questions above is "yes", the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) may be able to assist Š DIMA works towards enriching Australia through the entry and settlement of people. It works in partnership with Local Government to boost regional development in Australia.
A new program launched in October aims to fulfil two of Hume City Council's highest priorities. The Small Business Falls Prevention Program further extends Council's commitment to a safe community. At the same time, it provides a service for local businesses to help reduce costs and adds to the incentives for establishing in Hume.
The opening of a new system for extracting reusable material from the waste stream has brought a new direction in landfill education for Hume. Since December, residents driving into the City's Bolinda Road landfill at Campbellfield have been directed around a circular road where they can deposit an extensive range of reusable or recyclable items in marked bays.
The development of the 1999-2005 Corporate Plan marks a new era for Hume City Council. The change is marked by the desire to ensure Council is a customer driven organisation delivering quality services at all times.
Situated on the northern fringe, Hume City provides visitors with their first glimpse of the greater Melbourne metropolis, whether they arrive by car along the Calder or Hume Freeways or fly into Melbourne Airport at Tullamarine.
A vast investment to improve the appearance of Hume and raise community pride was vindicated on 2 December 1999 when thousands of Hume residents, students, Council staff, and local businesses turned out to give the City a makeover.
Hume City Council has taken on the role of supporting the community to achieve outcomes which are beyond Council's direct influence. It is doing this by assisting concerned members of the community to advocate on their own behalf.
Hume City Council welcomes industry to the City but refuses to accept that having thriving industry means accepting an eyesore. Accordingly, Hume has embarked on a concentrated effort to improve the industrial landscape through targeting areas on a precinct basis.
Hume City Council is one of just 25 organisations world wide having World Health Organisation (WHO) accreditation for its initiatives in promoting community safety. It is a pioneer in a field where Local Government is increasingly expected to give leadership.
Staff development has provided the key to increasing access to Hume's recreational facilities. The City has taken the view that people with disabilities are better served by having greater access to a wide range of services rather than relying on special programs.
With one of Melbourne's largest communities of newcomers, Hume has dedicated part of its extensive greening program to special activities for ethnic and refugee communities. The program helps overcome significant barriers which confront non English speaking groups in their new country.
The biggest single program Hume has undertaken since its inception in 1994 is the City Improvement Program. When Hume developed its current Corporate Plan it determined to take account of resident concerns identified by surveys. These indicated improving the appearance of the City and upgrading its footpaths as main community concerns.
An emphasis on economic development is paying off in Hume. Currently boasting $317 million of commercial and industrial construction for the period 1997-1999, Hume has the highest level of investment in this sector, of any Victorian Municipality outside the Melbourne CBD. The City is experiencing a boon in both small and large investment.